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AlpineK

McBride Traverse

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The McBride Range is at the heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park. I first saw the mountains while I was skiing on the Spearhead Traverse. Like the Spearhead Traverse, a traverse of the McBride Range involves skiing up and down over rugged, glaciated peaks, but unlike the Spearhead a traverse of the McBride Range is longer and more committing. At most points on the Spearhead Traverse, you can bail out and return to where you started without too much work, but if you are forced by bad weather or events beyond your control to bail out on the McBride Traverse, you would face a 2 day hike through swamps and brush to reach a road.

 

I started planning to traverse the McBride Range in February. I wanted to try and do the trip in April, but bad weather and my original partner backing out forced me to wait until May. Thanks to CC.com, I got in touch with Jordop. He was also interested in the traverse; we got together for a ski trip to Wedge Mountain. We didn’t have much luck on Wedge Mountain, but we decided skiing the McBride Range was something we should try. We both wanted to find at least one more person for the trip, and after asking everyone we thought might be a good traverse buddy, Jordan’s friend John decided to go a few days before we were set to leave.

 

5/12/02

 

I met up with Jordan and John at Starbucks in Squamish. After a cup of coffee we drove Jordan’s car up to the Diamond Head parking lot and loaded all our gear into my truck. Jordan hid some beer in a stream near the parking lot; then we drove off to Whistler. At Whistler we purchased lift tickets for one ride up the mountain and headed to the top of the ski area. At the top of the lifts we traversed out to the backcountry gate, put on our skins, and skied out the Musical Bumps. The weather was nice, and by lunchtime we reached a hill above Russet Lake cabin. South, across the Cheakamus River, we could see the mountains we would be skiing on for the next few days. After lunch we skied around Fissile Peak and on to the Overlord Glacier. Our packs, weighted down with 9 days of food, started to take their toll on us, and we slowed to a pathetic pace. We made it up to the north shoulder of Overlord peak and decided we had had enough for the day and set up camp.

 

5/13/02

 

The weather forecast had predicted stormy weather, and sure enough we woke up to clouds, wind, and a little snow. The cloud ceiling was high enough, and we knew the route well enough to proceed onwards, so we packed up and headed over a col to the Diavolo Glacier. From the glacier we headed south to Detour Ridge and then skied down into the headwaters of the Cheakamus River. The snow conditions sucked; we were skiing on thick rain soaked snow with a crust on top. All of us ended up traversing and doing kick turns to descend into the valley. Once in the valley, we skied over a ridge and down to the Cheakamus River. We skied along the river in the rain; there were enough snow bridges that we only had to take our skis off once to cross the river. Eventually we made it to the McBride Glacier and skied up into the clouds. We set up camp after we got above the snow line and the clouds got so thick we couldn’t see a thing. Dinner that night was miserable as the snow continued to fall.

 

5/14/02

 

Listening to the snow fall all night didn’t give me a lot of hope for moving on in the morning, but about 7AM John yelled to us from his tent that he saw some blue sky. Sure enough we got up and made breakfast as the clouds slowly started to dissipate. We skinned up the McBride Glacier to a saddle just below the summit of Mt. Sir Richard. All of us thought the north-facing slope we were climbing would be a great ski run, but unfortunately we didn't have time to make a run. We did have time to summit Sir Richard though, so John and I hiked to the top. From the shoulder on Sir Richard we traversed along the top of the Ubyssey Glacier into a whiteout. We stopped and ate lunch and looked at the map; eventually the clouds broke and we found the correct slope we needed to ski to reach Wolverine Pass. The ski down to the pass was nice to start, but down lower on the slope the sun had turned the snow onto thick, deep slush. We set up camp when we reached the pass and dried out our gear.

 

5/15/02

 

The skies were partly cloudy when we woke up. We had breakfast and started climbing up the slope out of the pass to the Forger Glacier. The snow was very icy from the nighttime temperatures, and we had a difficult time keeping our ski edges in the snow. We were traversing at the top of a big slope, so our lack of traction had us a little scared. Eventually we reached a plateau on the glacier, and the skiing got much easier. We got to a high point on the glacier and traversed and then skied down a nice slope to Drop Pass. After lunch at the pass we skied up to a ridge crest. Once on the crest we saw a huge build up of clouds to the west; thinking we were in for some bad weather we dug up big tent walls and got ready for some bad weather. The storm stalled out to the southwest of us, so we had a pleasant dinner and laughed at our fortifications.

 

5/16/02

 

After breakfast we skied west along the ridge top in sunny weather. The ridge had a series of bumps we had to cross. Everything went smoothly until we got to the last bump before Hour Peak. From the top of the bump we could see steep slopes and cliffs, but we couldn’t see all the way down to the next saddle. John took off, and Jordan and I followed him. We got to a slope with cliffs below us; John was out of sight. After looking around I found a safe, but steep, slope. Without a pack I could have skied it, but with my backpack I ended up sideslipping down it. On reaching the saddle in the ridge we looked back, and I spotted John, with his skis on his pack, face in to the slope, kicking steps down a scary looking pitch. John caught up with us, and we had a good laugh about the descent. From the saddle we circled around Hour peak, then traversed and climbed up to a notch between crosscut ridge and Mt. Luxor. The weather was nice, but we noted a ring around the sun, and as the day wore on the wind picked up. We skied to Gray Pass and then up to the Bookworms. John took off on his own and climbed Mt. Carr, while Jordan and I skied down the Sphinx glacier and then up towards Sphinx col. We set up our tent, and just as we were making dinner it started snowing and blowing. The rest of the night it stormed.

 

5/17/02

 

To our surprise, the clouds lifted in the morning, and instead of hanging out in the tent all day we packed up and skied away. We had a nice run in new snow down from Sphinx col to the Sentinel Glacier; then we skied up to the Glacier Pikes and down on to the Garibaldi Neve. Clouds rolled in as we climbed the Neve, and we got to the high point of the crossing in flat light with the clouds swirling around us. The ski down the south side was good, but amusing, due to the flat light and lack of features. We eventually reached the Gargoyles and started to climb up to Paul Ridge. The climb up was a little scary due to the warm snow and evidence of some large wet snow avalanches; we managed to reach the Elfin Lakes cabin at the top of Paul Ridge without incident though. After a break at the cabin we skied out Paul Ridge and then had a fantastic ski out the trail right to the parking lot and Jordan’s car.

 

We got the car going and drank some of the best tasting beer I’ve had in a while and then we drove up to Whistler and my truck. After collecting our vehicles we drove down to brewpub in Squamish. We found ourselves a table and ordered some beer. While sitting at the table I looked over at the adjoining table and, much to my surprise, there was Dr. J and Capt. Caveman!

 

All in all we had some good weather, some good skiing, and the company was good too. I give two big thumbs up for the trip, and I’d like to thank CC.com for facilitating the whole thing!

 

Check out the photos McBride Photos

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Unlike Peter, I enjoyed your trip report. And congrats on the traverse. Way to go, Alpine K!

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quote:

Originally posted by mattp:

Unlike Peter, I enjoyed your trip report. And congrats on the traverse. Way to go, Alpine K!

Ditto, the pics were GREAT!!! [big Grin]

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I dont know who Epstein is but guess he lurks a lot after figuring out that one.

 

I can say I enjoyed sluggin brews with ya and then Brayshaw.

 

Oh yeah the climbing. Yeah ok granite up there. Mountains well here is Highlander's photo from last week -

 

joffre1.jpg

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quote:

Originally posted by salbrecher:

I think the last picture is Atwell Peak
[Confused]
. Nice pics though
[Cool]

 

After looking at the map I think your right.

 

Edited by AlpineK

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A good tip for doing long traverses: put beer in the cars at both ends, but make sure the beer at the finish is better than the beer at the start so that there's incentive to finish the damn thing and not bail and go back to Whistler for all the hot tub girls!

 

Anybody know what the deal was with Fred walking back along the highway into Squamish north of Alice Lake with a large, stupid hat on?

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Ah, what can I add to K's TR? Some highlights:

 

1. The unfortunate gentlemen setting out for a traverse of the Spearheads with SEVEN days food.

2. Finding a brand new Lexan shovel atop one of the Musical Bumps, but then getting an attack of the Karmas and leaving it for the poor snowboarder who lost it there.

3. Trying to eat burritos in a howling wind and snow storm on the McBride Glacier [Roll Eyes]

4. Sitting atop the Gatekeeper wonderinf where the hell we were only to have the skies part Biblically to endow us with one of the most awesome runs down into Wolverine Pass.

5. The north ridge and west face of Pitt. Huge.

6. Incredible Garibaldi granite. The southeast face of Davidson (2 Spagnut routes I think) is awesome. Kicking myself for not bringing a pair of slippers and some nuts for the Minute Hand; if this were anywhere near a road, it would be swarmed worse than Diedre! Looks a lot like Eichorn Pinnacle on Cathedral in the Sierras, if you've ever seen it.

7. Crosscut Ridge, say no more.

1655_crosscut.jpg

 

8. Oh, and, of course, seeing Capt. start on his third pitcher by the time I left the Brewpub!

 

[ 05-20-2002, 06:25 PM: Message edited by: jordop ]

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good job K and jordop. looks like it was a fun 5 days!

 

in the Mt Garibaldi #2 picture the low sub peak on the left that isn't blocked by clouds is the Tent.

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