Trip: Hope BC - Cruel Pools Trip Date: 02/09/2019 Trip Report:
Since moving to Bellingham at the beginning of last year I'd been pining for Hope - ice didn't seem to come in last winter, though the snow riding was pretty good locally. This winter had been looking bleak, replete with rain-on-snow events at Baker and sunny January days on rock in Squamish and at Mt. Erie.
All that changed with a little help from the recent arctic outflow down the Fraser. Leaving the car with the thermometer reading 0 degrees F last Sunday at Coquihalla Summit for a ski tour, the cold was tangible. Driving back down the 1 on the way home, signs of ice were everywhere and the forecast ahead looked promising.
Last Sunday, 3 Feb 2019:
After many midweek texts and emails and internet bat signals, plans were made. Hope springs eternal.
I'd read somewhere that Cruel Pools was like the "This House of Sky" of the Fraser. I had gotten on the latter last November and the comparison is certainly apt. Pitch after pitch of fun, mellow ice up a narrow and twisting canyon, each next pitch invisible until topping out and turning a new corner.
The ice was mostly perfect, thunker, plastic in many places, thick enough for 10s and 13s and maybe a 16 here and there. We soloed the first two steps, belayed a narrow chimney, and continued upwards, alternating between belayed and off-belay climbing.
Pitches varied in length between 10 and 50 meters, separated by short walks up the snow covered creek bed.
After some time, we arrived at the final pitch described in a 2005 CC trip report and found the likely WI4 pitch to be guarded by a thin eggshell and unlikely topout. To the left, an alternate finish appeared to offer at least 3 or 4 more rope lengths of similar climbing, provided one wanted to put up with a short pitch of frozen moss to get back to the ice.
Satisfied with the mileage and altitude achieved, we commenced what in the Rockies would be a casual, bolted descent. In this corner of west coast ice however, a variety of rappel anchors were employed, including various frozen logs protruding from the creek, one naked thread, a rock horn, and a rock pinch. In a combination of 7 or 8 single and double rappels we unfortunately left 3 pieces of tat. Future parties would be advised to bring their creativity to descend the ascent route, as the ice was not often thick enough for proper v-threads.
Driving home, we couldn't help but stop a number of times to gawk at the numerous lines of all lengths and difficulties spilling off the hillsides. As the authors of the West Coast Ice write, this would be Mecca for ice climbers, if only winter was 5 degrees C colder and two months longer. One can hope.
Ice climbing gear, screws to comfort, emphasis on short screws. Two ropes recommended for descent. Approach Notes:
Obvious pullout and drainage past 2km marker on Silver Skagit Road. 5 minute walk to climbing.