Me and Mel haven't been out since Jan 1st, I told her about my last trip up Steep Peak and how I saw a ridge connecting Darkside to Windfall and it would be a good challenge. It was supposed to be me, Mel, Ashkan, Cheyenne and Donal, By 5:30am rolled around for the meet up at the church it was just 3. Me, Mel, and Donal who Mel knows. 23km RT - 1828m Gain - 11hrs car to car.
Starting temp was -18, alittle better than the previous trip of -23 in the same valley the week prior. 2 overnight cars and few other groups showing up at the 8:30am starting time. For Darkside you don't need to go all the way to the lake, once the obvious steep straight up slope that takes you to the upper ridge comes into view just aim for it. Lower down I couldn't find the uptrack so straight up the powder we went. Eventually we found the track to stomp on
It's pretty relentless the whole way from the bottom to the summit of Darkside. Donal was struggling since he doesn't own MSR's, and Mel just flew in from Cancun the night before and was on minimal sleep. This meant trail breaking in sinking snow for me for about 90% of the trip.
Once at the top we found a spot out of the wind to look at the ridge to Windfall and wait for Donal.
The distance as the crow flies is not that many km's but there are about 3 substantial gains and then drops.
Donal made it to the first drop but decided it wasn't wise to carry on so he waited in the sun for abit, then slowly wandered back to the top of the first bump. you can see the avy release on the SW face of Windfall, it happened last Sunday where a slab cut loose 30m above him and carried him 300m down. Ribs and back injured with S&R getting him according to Avalanche Canada.
Me and Mel carried on noticing our pace slowing down. We talked about a turn around time just to be on the same page of possibly hiking out in the dark and pressed on.
The camera didn't come out very much along the ridge, Mel dropped her pack on the final push to try and gain some extra speed. It definitely was a grind but arriving at the summit was worth a smile. A high five, a photo and not much time to linger we started back down.
The main uphill section was a real kick in the nuts, we both needed to take a break and get some food in us for it. Even reaching the top of this one, still meant another uphill back to the top of Darkside where the shadows started to appear on Windfall.
Our timing worked out quite well, got to see the sunset from Darkside, then caught up to Donal as we flew down the avy slope in knee deep powder watching the 1 day early full moon rise and light up the snow. The headlamps went on a the base for the forest section, but once on the logging road out weren't needed because the moon was so bright. Usually the trip down isn't that exciting but between the sunset and shadows and moon it was better than the trip up.
Four Winds bombers for beer and a few Hey Ya'lls were ice cold for the drive home.