Cypress Mountain -> Furry Creek in two days this past weekend.
14 peaks summitted - MAR UNN NUN LIO THO ENC JAM DAV MAG FAT HAT DNE + (DNE 2 & DNE 3)
The gap has been connected! After a few seasons of hard work from Ian Robertson and Chris Porte, we were able to connect the dots and hopefully help progress the future of the Howe Sound Crest Trail North extension. The end goal is to have a route to Whistler, but first things first we wanted a route to Squamish that avoided having to drop down to Porteau Road and the sea to sky highway before extending up to Mountain Lake Hut area.
Nicholas Blair and I started with overnight bags from Cypress at 6 AM while getting absolutely drenched. The clouds moved away just as we got to St Marks, but the brush was soaking. After bailing and losing my water bottle Nick and I tagged the summit for the first time lol. Not worth it. The true summit is a little bushwhack above the viewpoint and is very uneventful.
The next few hours were great and we tagged the usual suspects along the trail. South and North Unnecessary peaks, the Lions which were soaking and Thomas Peak. We weren't willing to risk climbing the West Lion as we both have already, but a party of 5 in Vans thought it was a good idea to climb it. Around 10:30 we dropped off the trail right below Thomas Peak to the little tarn lake to the north east. From here we followed flags down the creek all the way to the summit of Enchantment Peak. The crux is a little waterfall drop to get to the boulder field below. Here you turn left and traverse the boulder field towards Enchantment. A small bushwhack down and up gets you to the plateau before the final easy scramble. Really fun route and easy to follow so thanks for those who did good flagging. First new peak the both of us have stood on in a year (well besides MAR) and it felt great!
To get back to the HSCT we didn't want to retrace our steps so we cut across at ~1320m along a nice bench with vegetation with cliffs above and below. In about 30 minutes we reached the HSCT in the boulder field below the knolls. There is some mild bushwhacking and navigating but easy-peasy. Would recommend this route for anyone going the opposite direction or doing a loop like us.
We slowly went up and down James and David Peak and had a nice long lunch. The rope between the gap along James is broken FYI so don't use it. Up to Magnesia meadows we were sad to see no berries. After having some water and dropping the heavy packs in the meadows, we went up to the summit of Magnesia Peak which was more technical than I thought which made it worth the side trek. Head up the col directly north from the hut, and drop down 25 meters diagonally down and then head straight up to the boulder field to avoid some technical scrambling. You will see an old heli pad before making the summit which is best accessed from around the left side. From here we dropped down, got massacred by our lovely mosquito friends and made our way to Hat Pass. We reached the Hat Tarn at 6:30 and made our way up Fat Ass and to Hat for the 11th peak of the day! Both peaks provide stunning views and is roughly a 1 hour sidetrack off the HSCT.
From here it was headphones in - dinner at the Brunswick Lake hut and then continued to Deeks Lake just before needing the headlamps. After a 14 hour day we were ready for sleep, set up our respective tents and crashed. FYI if you don't want your shoes wet you have to schwack around the mini Brunswick Lake and long jump across the outflow crossing the trail. There were a lot of people here, it looks to be getting very popular.
The next day we cursed our knees as we made our way up the Deeks/Windsor col. Please bring clippers next person, the blueberry bushes are getting a bit overgrown in a few places (but no where close to what we would see later that day). We made our way to Deeks North East (a subpeak of Deeks Peak across from Windsor) and it was a fun ridge walk! Flagged the whole way and easy. Here we dropped down into the unknown to summit Deeks North East 2 which is significantly more treacherous and untouched by few. DNE 2 would provide us with some good quality adventures. We flagged the route from here on out and it was super chill terrain to the base of the scramble as long as you are comfortable with some bushwhacking. To climb the peak, go to the left across a bench to find slightly better rock and hand holds. There's a good amount of exposure with mostly class 3 scrambles. Along the way, there are a few class 4 moves required but the proper route is flagged to avoid anything too bad. Going down will be more interesting and technical, but Jose Collado did it without coming up first so its doable (i'd recommend a helmet). The scramble is 120 meters and is best described as Hanover difficulty level but with rock more like Brunswick.
From the summit of DNE 2, which has a nice sized cairn made by Ian and Chris, turn left and then right to go down a small chimney which is flagged. Head down below the cliffs and from here you have an opportunity to go directly down to the lakes visible below or follow our track. We arrived at the DNE 3 "Gap" just as Ian Chirs and Jose appeared across from us with rope, drills, whiskey and much more! With eyes from both sides it took us an hour but we eventually found a point in the gully that made its way up to the peak. It made it worth for Nick who had carried 20m of rope from Cypress all for this. We rejoiced, and soon Jose was on his way to retrace our route back to Porteau! Rope was permanently installed coming out of the gully and in another place which was mossy class 4 scrambling otherwise. This place will require further work but it goes! Ian dropped off some whiskey and a book at the summit tree before we headed back to his car at the gate by the Furry Creek golf course.
The next two hours can only be described as Ian and Chris gracefully moving through a field of roses, while me and Nick somersaulted behind them down steep fields of blueberry bushes lol. Okay a bit dramatic but it was a lot of fun trying to keep up and make our way down. They did an excellent job at managing to stay on route as we descended and even found a ton of their original yellow flags they had placed. Luckily the bushes softened the impact and we made some progress. I could not believe how many mushrooms we saw - seriously this is the place for an avid mushroom picker to go. So much stuff. This area will definitely benefit from some serious trail work but if two goofs with 25 pound bags can do it, so can others. To be fair Nick just got back from completing the Camino de Santiago in 20 days so he ain't a goof. This is not a place to follow for the casual hikers who are looking for a view. You should be comfortable with route finding, bushwhacking and difficult scrambling, but as more people access this area it will be doable for a lot more.
Climbing down/up to DNE 3
Climbing up to DNE 3
Summit of DNE 3 with Ian, Nick and Chris
Typical terrain coming down
6 km of logging road back to the car.
We got to the car at 6 pm marking an excellent weekend in the mountains. I was so excited that the route actually went, but we could not have done it without the amazing beta and countless hours spent from Ian and Chris. IF anyone is wanting to duplicate this (which I recommend on a non-rainy weekend) please message me for a GPS track! Thanks for reading my lengthy post, that's enough hiking for me and Nick this year.