This one has been on Katie and my radar for awhile since we started hammering out the Sunshine Valley peaks lately. The only 2 other reports on Clubtread are from Mr. Sunshine Valley SimonC and then MarkT who did 2 BCMC trips up this way many many years ago. Reports from a reputable peakbagger trying this access road without snow cover resulted in them having to turn back due to alder in the last couple years. 9km one way of logging road that isn't snow covered sounds miserable so if we were going to do it, now was the time. I messaged the other mountain wives. Mel and Winnie heard 19km of logging road walking and just shrugged and said sure "sounds good" I didn't tell them about the frigid creek crossing till about 9pm the night before though.
We had to park at the main bridge over the Sumallo River because it was still snow covered past this point. It was solid as a rock, but we know it would be soup later on and it was only just over 1km of walking to get to the on foot creek crossing. Later on, on our way back there was one bonehead stuck in the soup 30ft past the bridge.
We arrived at the creek crossing, I forgot my water shoes so bolted across barefoot, the rocks and coldness were painful, then I spotted a perfectly flat submerged rock and thought to myself "oh nice a flat rock, that looks abit more comfortable to step on" as soon as I did it was like an oil slick. I managed to save a complete dunking and thought I kept my boots above water cause they appeared dry. Once I got across and pulled out my left sock from my left boot it was dripping in water. "FUCK!!!!" then I turned the boot upside down and water came pouring out. That was super lame since it was below freezing and I didn't have spare socks. I will just say even though we had beautiful sunshine on the day, the temps and wind was still very very chilly. My left foot wasn't very happy with me for about 75% of the trip.
After the creek crossing I was abit grumpy so I put my snowshoes on and started the 8km logging road walk while the girls dried their feet and whatnot. The heavy snowpack was amazing, all the alder was covered except for very minimal sections. I just wanted to get this part over with so we all powered through this 8km stretch at our own pace " social distancing done right" As soon as we neared the end of the road 2hrs later the sun finally was shining on it. 2hrs , 9km of road it seemed like the perfect spot to take our first break.
There had been a freeze-thaw cycle going on for a couple days prior, the conditions were way better than we could have imagined. No punching through any crust, just cruising ontop. I had done my part in leading the logging road section, Katie and Mel were feeling strong so after the road they led the way up the steep slopes to get us into the upper valley. Every so often we would encounter soft windblown slab sections so they each took turns breaking trail. Winnie the new girl kept offering to help out but the seasoned vets kept plugging along in front. I was the lazy old guy just taking pictures and clips for the video. I also was carrying a shovel and rope this trip just incase which I'm going to say was slowing me down.
We are now getting into the upper valley sidehilling a slope when my sunglasses decided to go for a cruise down to the bottom of the slope. First the creek crossing and now this. I was having quite the start to the day. I didn't want to squint all day so I dropped the elevation to grab them. While down below I managed to get some shots of them crossing above and slowly pulling away from me. I figured I might as well just use this time to change into my swim shorts. This took abit of time and it was pretty hard to catch up to them until reaching the base of the West Ridge.
Finally a steep section on the West ridge slowed them down and I was able to catch up. Mel led the way up the awkward step where you had to straddle a sideways tree. The conditions were bomber for the MSR's to basically act as crampons on the hard snow. With the help of many veggie belays we managed to get over this section with relative ease. No need for ice axe.
After the step it was just a mellow cruise to the rounded summit where we now have to tap poles instead of high fives, or hugs or fist bumps. The views of the big boys never disappoint.
It's still not springtime yet, the wind was chilly and after a good chunk of time on the summit all our bodies were becoming quite chillled. We had made it to the top way faster than anticipated. The conditions made for quick travel, so much so that I suggested we go and do Mt. Green on a connecting ridge of Forddred maybe 4km away max. but not that much elevation gain. They just looked at me and said it's far and nobody was keen. That plan got shot down quite fast. Steven Song 2 days later would go up Forddred and then go do Green of course
On the way up it was all business, but with the prize in the bag the descent was all social time, we all hiked in a group, lots of smiles and laughs at some really good bumslides and some really bad ones. The logging road section went by pretty quickly aided by some chit chat. When we arrived at the creek again, we all just walked through in our boots, walked back to all our cars, jumped in A.S.A.P to get out of Sunshine Valley's area.
We found a wide open spot away from the residents and hung out having some drinks unwinding from the day. If anyone needs me, I will be moving to Bountiful B.C. with these mountain wives.