So here is abit of history on McConnell that Dru posted in the only report on this mountain on Clubtread. Marek and crew were claiming a first ascent until this newspaper article showed otherwise. Their trip was in the snow and the writeup made the whole trip sound awful with conditions and the ridge in general. I probably shouldn't have read the report cause it changed my mind to avoid the ridge and come at it from the Sunshine Valley Goldtip ridge this time with Ashkan. I warned him it was gonna be a brutal trip
We drove up the Sumallo FSR which I"m no stranger to and took the left road that leads upto the cabins and the gate. From the gate to the head of the valley it's about 3.5km. Why walk 7kms when you can bike it, so we brought bikes. I was up this same way on June 1st with Duffy and it was all dead and brown, 1 month later it was a fucking jungle. It was 7ft high prickles and alder and god knows what else. I wore shorts because I believe in sadomasochism. It was a rough couple hundred meters fighting our way up beside the creek that you will see in the video up above but eventually things opened up and we could scramble up the rock bluffs and hop on the snow whenever it seemed safe without falling in the creek below.
We made it to the col between Merge and Goldtip just over 2hrs which was pretty good considering the condtions. We turned left and started heading up Gold Tip and took our first break. Initially the plan was to avoid having to go upto 1900m so instead we started traversing but the cliffs kept kept getting worse so 1850m was the best we could do. I really didn't see a nice looking ridge that connects to Marmot, I know it's doable cause people have done Marmot that way. Instead we just started to head North instead hoping we could find a way off the ridge and drop down into the next valley over. Things were not looking good so kept heading North towards Goldtip until we finally found a break in the ridge.
It was the typical loose dirt, rock, treed descent, but the exposure wasn't too bad. Once we got away from the ridge crest we found the steep forest and abit of leftover snow to help speed things up. This section was about 550m straight down. Things were going fairly well until Ashkan ended up slipping on some wet grass in the start of a gully, he started sliding a few meters before coming to a stop thankfully as the gully was starting to form. We were surrounded by bush and strong trees I told him to forget the poles and make sure his hands on on branches at all times. We encountered only 2 bluffs that took minimal time to figure out a way down. Somehow Ashkan when throwing his poles down the bluff through it onto a tree somewhere and it got stuck. We spent too much time trying to throw rocks at it, I got mad and said fuck it and climbed back up the bluff and shook it loose.
We popped out of the trees into a nice meadow avy swath that was only full of tall grass and no alder and finally hit Lafourge creek. The mosquitoes were bad so we filled up our water, and cooled off briefly then carried on. This section from the creek to the base of McConnell was actually quite nice open travel.
At the base of McConnell we had a quick energy break and prepared for the 740m climb to the summit. It was mostly in the forest, it was fairly open, just hot and buggy. I was finally slowing down on the last 200m and Askhan's pace was dropping quickly. I would go a short distance and rest, and wait for him to come into sight, he was doing good at just trucking along at a steady pace though.
The upper portion of the mountain was open but it was only for a short time since the summit was so close. We came up the SE ridge and I saw the cairn. It's always nice to see a pile of rocks but this was one hell of a journey to get to and I was quite happy to touch it. I forgot to look inside for a bottle of champagne that the McConnell family brought up. Maybe Katie can have a look when she goes for it.
We were treated to views of Outram of course and all the usual peaks in the area. It took us longer than expected so we had our food, took our pics and I told Ashkan we had to leave by 3:30pm at the latest. It gave us enough time to recover but not a ton of time.
The descent was going all fine and we were about 100m from getting back to the base of the valley when I slipped on some hidden piece of slimy slippery bark. Both my feet shot out from beneath me and my ass landed along with both hands going down to protect naturally. Whatever I landed on was sharp and took a gash out of my right thumb/palm. Right away it was gross looking. Whipped off my backpack started ripping open bandaids and something to wrap it in. Normally I bleed alot, I'm pretty lucky that this stopped bleeding fairly fast. I knew we were on a tight timeline so as much as I wanted to just chill, I told Ash we gotta keep moving. This nice forest section that I enjoyed earlier in the day wasn't so nice, I needed to take one of my gel packs. Whenever I need to use one of these I know it's been a long day.
We arrived at the upper creek and I literally just sat right down beside it drinking from it and filling up the water all the while getting destroyed by mosquitoes. Me and Ash didn't talk he was on the other side of the creek doing his thing. We both knew what lay ahead of us. 550m straight up a steep forest. I felt some tightness in my hamstrings coming so I had to borrow some of Ash's Gatorade. Some sugar and electrolytes I was good to go and just wanted to get upto the ridge. Ash's pace was not doing well for our daylight. We reached the crest and got a look at the shadows on McConnell and then the setting sun to the West looking down into sunshine valley. No time to sit and watch the sunset, there was no way I was willing to head down the jungle and the creek via headlamp if could be avoid. I set a pretty intense pace down, boot skiing wherever I could find the snow.
We now hit the jungle still just barely doable without headlamp, going down was even worse than going up, you couldn't see your footing and we both kept tripping and falling I had to yell out to him so he could find me YUP YUP!! YUP YUP! was heard frequently. It was ugly but whatever we managed. All that was left was a traverse across the meadows and go try and find the bikes in the dark. Woops so much for a waypoint. We came upon the road and were only 3min away from where we left the bikes. It was a pretty fun bike back to the truck with headlamps. Our total time was 13hrs and 30min. and a shitload of elevation gain. Ashkan passed out hard in the passenger seat, I just put on some tunes and dropped him off at his car along Hwy 1. Next stop was the hospital in Delta to get stitches. I think I arrived around 1:30am in the morning, left by 2:30am, home by 3:00am, and my bed never felt better.