With a week's worth of cloudy rainy weather coming up, I was considering whether to install new soffit vents in preparation for the house getting painted, or getting out there on a hike. I've been thinking of taking my kids up Golden Ears at some point but had no idea of the conditions other than a hiker I met two weeks ago while at the Alder Flats viewpoint on a family hike. The conversation went something like this:
"Did you summit?"
"Lots of snow?"
"Was there snow at the emergency shelter?"
"What emergency shelter?"
I didn't know what to make of that but in hindsight I guess the shelter was quite buried in snow. Hard to miss it though, I would think.
Anyways, the soffits could wait. I could do those in the rain anyways, right?
I grabbed my dusty mountain bike from the garage rafters, pumped up the tires, and loaded it into the truck. There was a chance of rain in the forecast and a few splatters on my windshield going west on Hwy 1 made me wonder if this was a good idea. On the way across the GE bridge I heard Jeff O'Neill on CFOX saying it was a monsoon in downtown Vancouver. I didn't really feel committed yet but I hate the feeling of turning back.
Well, I should have checked the bike over a bit more before I left. Shortly after departing on the East Canyon trail I found that my rear shifter didn't work at all! Oh well, it would be 5th gear all the way. The drip, drip, drip of weather didn't help. It was just enough dripping to be annoying, and not enough to have to wait it out.
On the plus side I hadn't seen anyone since near the parking lot and the isolation was appealing. I was thinking about Alex Honnold in Free Solo when he was trying to explain it to his girlfriend, how it was all about performance. You just need to push yourself to your limit once in a while.
Heading across the connector bridge. Looks a bit gloomy up there.
Snow starts as soon as you crest the ridge that connects with Panorama. Obviously there was a ton of snow up here still, much more than in April 2015 when I was here last. Snow was quite soft.
I got to the emergency shelter still surrounded by snow but accessible. I had charged my phone battery the night before but hadn't turned it on yet. When I did the time was 7:25PM! Say what? No cell service here so it couldn't sync and I had no idea of how quickly I was moving. I had left the parking lot at 9 so if I made the summit by 2 I'd be happy. I guess at this point I was feeling committed to going all the way.
Heading up from the shelter I was in clouds most of the time, and a gale was blowing over the ridge from the west. I was following tracks from a couple of other hikers with no spikes or poles. I was planning to go to the left of the leftmost knoll, which I think is the summer route, but the tracks went up the steep gully between the knolls. I figured I was comfortable enough to do the same. I had spikes on and some hiking poles which would probably bend in half if used in a self-arrest, but some good step kicking made it work.
As soon as I was on the summit ridge the notifications started pouring in. I checked the time: 2:20. Shoot. Not as fast as I thought.
Another 10 minutes and I was on the summit and back.
Coming back down was a bit more hairy than going up. Regretted not bringing an ice ax so I hugged the trees down the summit ridge. The steep gully freaked me out so I headed toward the summer route and the security of veggie belays. Further down I looked back to survey the routes I'd taken (green = up, red = down):
Funnily the weather cleared up after I started the descent so I snapped a few pics on the way down.
(Pics are via Flickr. Much easier than the CT photo upload, which always complained about a missing security token when I tried to upload the maximum of 10.
Pretty sore today but not bad for an old guy I figure
Thinking about Edge now.