Russet lake late August...
My pal Bob and I had a plan to do a three day trip up to the alpine and get up a peak of some kind on the middle day.He came up with Russet lake and I found some scrambles up there so all that was left was to find a decent weather window.
Last week of August showed bluebird so Bob got our back-country passes together, reserving our camping at Russet lake as this area is in Garabaldi park.Our plan was to take the Whistler gondola and peak chair up and hike across to Russet lake from there, a 14K alpine jaunt with some easy up and down. We parked at lot 4 in the spots reserved for Garabaldi hikers. 65$ for the lift ticket but if you have the cash it beats hauling full packs up. We are in our mid sixties now with enough backcountry suffering under our belts ,nice to get a break going up!
Getting off the peak chair you quickly leave the international tourist scene behind and descend down and around Whistler summit to the south-east via the High note trail. This takes you on a scenic alpine traverse across Whistlers south side with Chekamus lake far below. It was a hot day on that south side so we brought a lot of water though we did find a late summer creek or two.
After a few hours we intersected with the Musical bumps trail. This is also very scenic, the Sound of music imagery came to mind. After a couple of hours traversing this alpine wander we came to the intersection with the Singing pass trail,our 3rd day return route back to the village.
It was late in the day and I saw my first big, fat marmot chowing down on some of the local alpine vegetation. Carefree they seem, not worried about my presence. Not long after I saw the new Russet hut, at first glance resembling a James Bond villians lair. Not really in operation yet but will be bringing the backcountry a little closer to Whistler soon. Maybe not a bad thing, a euro-style winter hut.
After 5 1/2 hours we reached the lake just as the shadows were hitting the lake. We found a nice spot with a rock wall to mitigate the wind which we knew could be cool at 7000 ft. Probably 20 people camping there but didnt seem crowded. Theres an old style hut to store food and some folks slept in there.
Next day we went out with the plan of going up Fissle peak. Ive often looked up at this prominent peak from Whistler village. We went up the approach with the plan of doing Gunns route 1 which is a steep scree scramble to gain the upper ridge. About half way up the scree we bailed as we weren't really feeling it, gets a little bald and slippery. We looked at route 2, more my taste as I don't find steep scree enjoyable. After a quick recon, we decided to go up Whirlwind instead which looked easier.
This was a very pleasant hike up on Whirlwinds south ridge, mostly moderate scree with a crossing of a glacial snowfield in the middle. The snow-pack was well established, late summer snow so we felt little trepidation without glacier gear.
Of course,the view from the top was spectacular. Overlord is right there. Looking at the remote mountains of Garabaldi from the north was truly humbling.So close to Vancouver yet another world.
Back to camp and a great evening of star gazing combined with a few libations we brought. A bluebird day turned into a inky black clear night sky with the wonders of all of it for us to ponder.
Day3 and we loaded up and broke camp. We came down the Singing pass trail, well established and a steady easy downhill all the way back to the village via the Fitzsimmons creek drainage. This was around 14K down also, all easy downhill through the forest. All bridges were in good shape and we met a guy doing maintenance and chatted.
Back in the car and off to Squamish for a beer and a burger and back to Van. 3 days well spent!