Quick note on alternative route for Garibaldi Lake Circumnavigation
There are plenty of useful threads on here about the Garibaldi Lake Circumnavigation route, so I won't add any more from my own trip other than this short note with a possible alternative for the section between Gentian Pass and Sphinx Bay. The usual route (and the one I have done in the winter on skis) is to traverse out of Gentian Pass to the 1850m level of Polemonium Ridge, and then drop through steep trees and talus slopes to Sphinx Bay near the hut.
This route works, esp if you can link the talus and avoid the steep forest, but this section is out of character with the rest of the circumnav which is mostly in the alpine. It also leaves you at the lake-end of Sphinx Bay, with a sometimes deep ford of the creek. It also means Castle Towers is a long detour. I decided there must be a better way - less bush, an easier ford and closer to Castle Towers.
The route I took last week, which with hard-won hindsight beta is, I think, preferable:
- from Gentian Pass, ascend Polemonium Ridge to the 2100-2200m level. There are some amazing camp sites at this elevation close to the ridge crest, and if there is still snow patches up there, there will be water. A pretty good Day 1 campsite.
- from the 2100-2200m level, there are a number of easy-to-find choices of scree gully or even steep heather slope to drop down into the bowl that is west of Castle Towers, that runs along the SE side of Polemonium Ridge (see pic). The gullies take you down easily to the bottom of this bowl at 1850-2000m and you can follow the bowl easily out to its outlet where the creek bends south at 1850m.
- from there, the creek drops more steeply, but it is easily and lovely to follow for another 1/2km.
- at around 1780m, the creek drops into a steep gully, over a roll-over, forcing you to the left and over the roll-over. Traverse a little further descenders left towards a sloping and sloppy meadow. Follow as far down as it makes sense, then cut left again into the forest
- traverse down and left through the forest for perhaps 200m where you will pop out into a new talus slope. This is where you need to pay attention and check out the attached pic.
- from this talus slope, traverse left (south) 400-500m above the obvious mass of slide alder until you emerge onto a boulder field that stretches all the way to the valley floor. Do not make my mistake and descend too early into B4/5 hell.
- at the bottom you will need to choose whether you can ford the creek where you emerge (around 1500m) which makes it easy to traverse below or above the highest lake in the valley over to Deception Gl, or whether you need to drop down to the big lake to ford (like I had to).
This route adds 3 hours or so to the entire circumnav, but puts you in a place for a nice campsite high on Polemonium Ridge, spitting distance to Castle Towers, and is generally a much more aesthetic (alpine) route from Gentian to Sphinx Bay.
Other circumnav route notes:
- I can't think of many advantages doing this route counter-clockwise. A clockwise route, starting up Pano Ridge, will put you going the right way on all the big ascents and descents.
- there are some potentially confusing route suggestions from Table Meadows to the Clinker-Price col. Keep it simple and follow the creek bed marked on the map all the way from its base at 1650m (just past the gully separating Table Meadows from Price) to the col. No bush and except for the last 100m of scree (that pops up just above and east of the col), is pleasant (but steep and hot!) heather walking.
- This is a nice, easily accessible and moderate Coast Range alpine hike that for most of it feels pretty remote and is certainly not busy. No glacier travel required, and no technical sections either. A solid 2 days, or more reasonable 3 day trip (with time to bag Castle Towers and a few others).
Last edited by stinkyclimber; 08-08-2017 at 07:46 PM.