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alpine ice w/1 day of Van

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How much alpine ice is there w/1 day of Van? I'm looking for climbs that are 1-2 days door to door. Lots, a few, rare or none is specific enough. Are they summer or winter mountaineering routes. Anything else I need or should know would be great too.

Thanks Sean

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lots, summer and winter

you must like slide alder. because the approaches to nearly every alpine ice climb is thru the green bastard

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Thanks for the response. Is there a guide book or just word of mouth and some adventure? Are these fourweek drive logging road routes or something I can get to in my 2WD and hike in? I've flipped through Alpine Select but there seems to be very few ice routes. Any help in finding more info would be great.

Thanks again for the quick response.


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Mt matier, a bit north of whistler is a good alpine ice face that is a reasonable weekend trip from van. no 4wd as you park right off the hwy. Nice trail in via the trail that goes by 3 nice lakes. camping right on the upper lake. climb up through the ice fall for a couple pitches to gain the glacier, then hike the glacier, preferably on the left side which is smoother, then over to the face, crawl through the schrund and up the 40 degree face for 3 ro 4 pitches. good descent down skiers R of the route and back to camp. There is another approach (that I haven't done) which bypasses most of the glacier too. Maybe someone else can help you with that. It is in the select guide. I thougth that this route is very cool, like a mini athabasca.

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There is certainly alpine ice within a day or a day and a half of Vancouver.


Much of the info on such is by word of mouth or acquired through mileage in the hills. Alpine Select, while a great book, tends to be somewhat rock-centric. The photos in the book however offer hints as to what's out there.


Fairly's book in my mind is no longer a good investment. Your money would be better spent on Gunn's scrambling guide to SW BC. The latter is vastly more up to date on approach info (critical on the Coast as it changes with logging plans) and has photos (beta). Travel super-light, hammer up some of his high points and look around. There's a world of white out there that can't be seen from the roads below. Gunn's scrambles also cover some intriguing areas off the common climbing radar.


Another book investment that I'd recommend is the "Backroad Mapbook" published by Mussio Ventures. It's painfully expensive at 40.00, but it provides a clear understanding of where stuff is in our complex landscape.


Overall, the alpine ice here is harder to see and somewhat harder to get to than the CDN Rockies or the Sierras, but it isn’t nearly as bad as some suggest. I’d recommend figuring stuff out by starting with routes that have reasonable trail access.


The normal season is rather short. September and October seem to offer prime alpine ice conditions. November rains quickly dump a meter of snow in the mtns and serve as a reminder that it’s time to go skiing.



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Maybe someone else can help you with that.
Matier NW face is a good call. The other access is via Keith's hut in Cerise Creek. Also some glacier travel required, but no slide alder. You could probably do it in a long day with some headlamp hiking.

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wedgemount area:

wedge NR and NF routes

Y couloir on parkhurst

rethel couloir on rethel

owls couloir

NF weart


central garibaldi:

NF castle towers

EF or NF garibaldi


chilliwack valley:

pleiades coouloirs

priest-coupe on rexford


joffre group:

3 couloirs on NF joffre

NW face matier

stonecrop gl. on slalok


whistler area:

NF fitzsimmons among others


further north:


NF Brew

NF Sampson

NF Crazy

NF Plutus

NF Meager


across the border

NF Shuksan

NF Baker

ne face redoubt



cheam range north faces

slesse couloirs

nf harvey

ne butt west lion

nf ossa

east face outram

sumallo cirque



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drew's hit most of the "hits", but watch out - the warmer weather over the past few years is melting routes out. for instance, Graham Rowbotham and I went up to repeat the Paymaster couloir on Crazy Mtn (Bralorne area) on Saturday, and it's GONE. the neighbouring "Plutocrat" looked to still be in. and the routes on Joffre seem to melt out early-ish now too. it seems like maybe some of these routes will revert to being summer (snow) climbs from being autumn (ice) routes - too bad!

aside from the printed guides, check out bivouac.com. it's like $20 to sign up, but there's quite a bit of good info lurking, and recent updates on access too.

cheers, don

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