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[TR] Blackcomb to Pemberton- Wedge Currie Traverse 2/28/2004

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Climb: Blackcomb to Pemberton-Wedge Currie Traverse


Date of Climb: 2/28/2004


Trip Report:

I’ve been working on a traverse in segments of Garibaldi Park for the last couple years. The last segment left was to traverse from Blackcomb ski area to Pemberton. Pemberton is really low elevationwise, so I figured we needed to do the traverse in a spell of good weather in February so as to have the maximum snowpack at a low elevation. Last Wednesday I hadn’t even thought about the trip till Dave Parker sent me a PM asking about skiing on the weekend. I started looking at forecasts, and it dawned on me that this weekend was a good time to do the traverse. Since Dave couldn’t take Monday off I had to flake out on skiing with him. I talked to a couple folks, and Jeff H came through with the motivation and a free Monday.


Jeff and I left Seattle on Friday evening and crashed in Squamish for the night. The worst part of these trips is getting a backcountry ticket from the ski area and riding the lifts with large packs. Fortunately things went smoothly registering, and we didn’t have to deal with too many gapers while riding the lifts.


Saturday 2/28


At the top of the lifts we traversed to the backcountry gates and found ourselves in a crowd of skiers headed out into the backcountry. Everyone else was day touring, and we left them all when we headed down the valley towards Wedge Pass. At first we were following some old ski tracks but then they disappeared. I was starting to think we were in the wild until we discovered that we were on the main helicopter flight path into the Spearhead Range.


Leaving Blackcomb



Wedge in clouds



After following the drainage for a ways we headed up the main valley and reached Wedge Pass about 2 PM. From here we started the big uphill grind, 4000’ to Weart Pass. The climb started out in tight trees; eventually we reached treeline and started following a bench to the right. Unfortunately we didn’t head right soon enough, and we found ourselves cliffed out from reaching the pass. We ended up climbing up as high as the pass before we found a break in the cliff band, and then in the flat light of darkness we skied (sort of) down to a basin below Weart Pass. During the run I lost feeling in all of my fingers. We started setting up camp and all of my fingers started to thaw out at once. I could barely concentrate on setting up the tent; however feeling eventually came back into my fingers and we settled into camp.


First Camp




Sunday 2/29


During the night the sky cleared, and we woke to blue skies. The touring was nice, we skied by Wedge and Lesser Wedge Mountain and up to a peak above the Mystery Glacier. We first skied to the west side of the peak, but we found ourselves at the top of a corniced ridge. After looking things over we skied to the east side of the peak and found a nice slope to ski down. The slope and the snow on the Mystery Glacier were especially good! It was starting to get late, but I wanted to do one more climb both to get it out of the way with, and so we could have a camp with morning sun. Just as the sun set we reached a plateau at about 8000’ on Hibachi Ridge and set up camp.


Looking back at the Spearhead Range



Wedge and Lesser Wedge



The Owls



Sunset shots







Monday 3/1


I had been dreading this day from the beginning of the trip. The weather wasn’t solid and we had to travel through the highest terrain of the trip; a white out could really shut us down. Also I knew the descent into the valley was going to suck. The morning dawned mostly clear but there were some clouds covering areas we had to traverse through. We skied to the west side of Hibachi ridge. As we climbed around the ridge the clouds started to lift, and we reached the saddle on the north side of the ridge with good visibility. From here we followed a cornice ridge on the Mount Currie massive. Eventually we passed the worst of the terrain and reached the final climb up a broad dome to the high point of the trip at 8,300’. On reaching the top I couldn’t see over a transition in the slope. Being super paranoid about cornices I dumped my pack and spent a while skiing around to get a vantage point over the upcoming slope. After looking the slope over I decided that it would go, and Jeff and I skied down it into a basin. We traversed and did a short climb to a new northeast facing drainage and then skied to a notch above a lake. At this point we skied through the notch and into a basin that drained to the north. Another descent through nice powder took us to another lake at tree line.


Hibachi Ridge



Looking back along the traverse



Pt 8300'



End of the alpine




From this point I knew things were bound to get worse, but at first the skiing through the trees was really good, however things changed as I expected. The trees got really tight and we found ourselves sideslipping and kickturning through steep terrain inbetween two creeks. After a lot of crap the slope flattened out and we made better headway through some big timber. I saw a clearcut and I figured there must be a road in the clearcut, so we made for it. Sure enough there was a road at the bottom of the clearcut, but we ended up skiing through about 10 creek drainages over rotten snow. Jeff had a few snow bridges collapse on him. After what seemed like hours we reached the road, but the snow was a nasty breakable crust; we were forced to snowplow down the road.


Subalpine hell


Just about the time it got dark we reached the mainline and found a 5-km sign. The road went on forever with a number of climbs but some nice downhill segments. Eventually we got to a paved road. Unfortunately my truck was up at Whistler and hitchhiking on a road with no traffic was useless. After talking it over we strapped our skis on our pack and hiked to the gas station in Pemberton. I left Jeff and all our gear at the station and started hitchhiking. Even on the main road there was virtually no traffic, so I waited a while, but I did get a ride from the third car that drove past.


Anyway I picked up my truck at Whistler, drove back to Pemberton, picked up Jeff, bought a bunch of greasy food and headed south.



Gear Notes:

Ski crampons helped out at a couple spots wont notice it


I also used a double sleeping bag that worked out pretty well


Approach Notes:

Snow is rotten at 3,000' but not too bad.

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Thats fuckin awsome... I was up there at the same time, but my trip wasn't nearly that cool! Gummbyin along with all the other gapers... The snow was all nice a fluffy up high sunday morning eh?

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I had visions of you guys shut down for days (or biting it in that massive avi slope in Gravell Creek) Way to push on rockband.gif


Now you gotta do that whole thing and link 'em! the_finger.gif

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