I haven't been into Garibaldi since 2013, a time when just going up Panorama ridge was ruinous to my stamina. Boy, how times have changed! This is well recorded territory around here, so I'll skip most of the boring parts.
I've been quite antsy lately, not having climbed a real mountain since my shitty St. Helens trip last June. With the fire on the Mamquam having ruined my plan of slaying Meslillooet & Dunkeld, and being unable to find any info on Pyramid, I decided I'd go climb Castle Towers instead. Knowing I'd want to go fast, my overnight pack weighed in at a whopping 15lbs, including water. Stoves? Wassat? I'll run on Landjaeger and Cookies, thanks! Hit the Helm Creek trail at 5:30 on friday night, and bivvy'd just below the top of Helm Ridge around 8:30. I woke up at 4am to see the milky way with the naked eye: a rare and most welcome treat. Packed up and peaced out at 5:30am.
I hoofed it up to the base of Helm peak just before dawn broke, concurred with my copy of Scrambles that it is a miserable thumb of choss not worth 30' of climbing (hence the .5 in the title), and booked it along the ridge towards the towers. The patch of the Corrie Glacier which crosses the ridge towards that peak has almost fully retreated this year. If I hadn't been alone and had brought my axe I'd have bagged Corrie along the way, but there was just enough left to make me wary. I suspect another two or three years of this heat and it'll be completely clear.
Crossed Fuscian along the way, did not realize at the time that this was a thing, thought it was just a particularly scrambly bump on the ridge.
Passed a tent in the saddle at the head of helm glacier, they were still snoozing in the early morning so I skiied down the scree and dropped my gear in Gentian Pass at 8am. Wouldn't see another human until I hit the top of Panorama the next day. Kind of crazy, really, figured there'd be at least one other group doing the towers!
Set up my tarp & overnight gear, tied my food in some trees, and headed up Polunium. What a wonderfully gentle ridge that was, super chill walking all the way to the top with the exception of that rather exposed downclimb in the notch. Good stuff. Topped out at 12, discovered the pipe for the summit log had a massive hole chewed in it and was empty, was super choked I had nothing to scrawl my name on for future posterity. I'm not into freeclimbing so the true summit can wait until I drag a friend up there. (I ran into a group on my way out of Helm campground who said they were planning on doing the towers in two weeks, asked them to bring a replacement log w/ziploc bags, and tape the pipe shut again!).
Took my time getting down, ran into a massive flock of some kinda grouse high up on Polunium. Back in camp at 4pm I ate dinner, crawled into my tarp, and promptly slept for the next 12 hours straight.
Sunday morning I awoke to no wind, and thus bug clouds of biblical proportions. Wolfing down some cookies for breakfast I hastily packed everything up and hoofed it west at 7am to a scree field just below the gargoyles on Gentian ridge. The bugs followed me almost all the way up. When they finally cleared near the top, I paused to switch into shorts from my pants and watched my tarp fall out of my bag and bounce a good 500' down the scree. I blew a good 45 minutes looking for it, to no avail, and I know the marmots will make bedding of it long before anyone else decides that sidestepping up that vertical scree slope is a good way to get out of the pass.
Hit the summit log on Gentian, skied down the ridiculously loose talus slope towards Panorama, and ate lunch with the crowds around 10:30am. Glissaded down the Panorama snow patch, bearing hard left to avoid the open glacier with gaping fissures in it, noted that there was a recent glissade trail which ended abruptly in said fissures. I sure hope they're alright!
Fired up from my long sleep, and noting the day was young, I decided to crank out the Black Tusk before leaving, so I headed over there and stashed my overnight pack in the trees a short ways up the lookout trail. Topped out the tusk at noon. That is assuredly the shittiest and most dangerous pile of rotten ass rock I have ever climbed, and I have no desire to ever go up there again.
On descent I got stuck in the tight notch below the summit for nearly 20 minutes as a group of terrified chinese tourists milled around trying to get up. Bonus: as I was traversing beneath it to gain the trail down I was nearly conked on the head by an avalanche of debris from above, as some dumbass was kicking rocks down a deathchute and onto the trail below.
Ran into a Ranger on the trail, apparently there were two of them on staff there for the weekend but one finished their shift on Saturday and one on Sunday, which seems a bit of a foolish way to assign staff for one of the busiest times of the year.
Anywho, hauled ass out of the park and got back to my truck at 7pm and discovered my feet were thrashed. These Scarpa's have like 1500km on them now and they are just refusing to not destroy my feet no matter what measures I take.
I'm pretty stoked, though. 50km, 4500', and 4.5 peaks in 2 days is solid in my books!
(I have plenty of pictures, but my house is currently 33* inside and I can't turn my PC on to edit them in Lightroom. I'll add them later in the week when this heat wave breaks.)