Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Mission, BC, Canada.
Interest: Borrowing or lending?
The Stein serves up another slice of humble pie, Caltha Peak
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. T. S. Elliot
For several years, I've had the ambitious idea of going into the Stein and linking all the scrambles in one monumental push. Last year, I made an attempt and limped away with Shields Peak in an exhausting 24 hour push. This year I went for round 2.
Nate picked me up after work on Friday. We battled long weekend traffic, and with a pit stop in Squamish, we arrived at the trailhead at 9 pm. Neither of us is a stranger to night hiking, we quickly geared up and hit the trail.
There's not much to see in the dark, the old road is just as long, boring and monotonous as ever. We must of been wearing jet packs as we covered the 12km to Lizzie Lake in 2 1/2 hours. We'd brought sleeping bags but no tent so we just threw down open bivy in the campground, I slept on the same table as last year, warmer in a sleeping bag this time but the table hasn't got any more comfortable.
Morning came soon enough, we had a leisurely wake up around 6am. Packed, fuelled, and moving at 7, we got a good sweat going on the climb from the lake to the "gates". Through the "Gates of Shangri la", we reached the cabin just after 8. A mini break here to fuel and set course, off towards Tundra/Caltha.
Up past the waterfall, around Arrowhead Lake, up again above Heart Lake and below the scramble peaks of Anemone and Tabletop. We gained the ridge east of Tabletop Mtn and realized the scale of this place. The alpine here is huge.
The drop to Cherry Pip Pass looked big and we knew a few hours after that descent, we'd be coming right back up. There are no straight lines in the Stein, horizontal or vertical. Despite the short distances the map and GPS were showing, it took until noon to reach Caltha Lake. Another break to fill out water, we decided on trying Caltha Peak.
Up the trail that leads towards Figure Eight Lake, as that trail flattens and wraps around the mountain we turned off and headed up. Soon we picked up cairns and roughly followed them. The route on Caltha isn't very difficult technically or in route-finding so in 2 hours we're on top.
I'm pretty knackered at this point so we decide against descending towards Tundra Peak. We reverse our ascent, stopping for dinner at Caltha Lake. We grind up to Cherry Pip Pass, where we see the first people since leaving the truck. More relentless uphill from Cherry Pip towards Tabletop mountain. We lose the sun here but it's plenty bright with moonlight.
We take a higher line, closer to Tabletop than the morning. It looks like a great scramble from this side and I really want to get on it, but it's just too late and dark. We pick up the trail and continue down in the darkness. At 10 pm, after 15 hours of near continuous movement, we drop our packs, pull out the mats and sleeping bags and crash for the night beside Arrowhead Lake. Despite our tired state, the bright moon and then a bazillion stars are seen between sessions of snoring.
Up the next morning, we pack and find a group camped beside us. Down the trail past the cabin where another party is gearing up for their day. Down to Lizzie Lake and then earbuds in, thankful my phone still has some battery life for the long slog down the old road. We arrive at the truck around 11am, for 21 hours of moving time total on the trip. Only one peak again but again I leave with plans to return, hopefully with better tactics for my linkup.
*my only good photos are panos, which this site won't let me post. If I get some good ones from Nate, I'll throw them up.
The greatest signature ever, tribute.