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[TR] Garibaldi Lake circumnavigation - Panorama Ridge - Gentian Pass - Sphinx Glacier 2/20/2015

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Trip: Garibaldi Lake circumnavigation - Panorama Ridge - Gentian Pass - Sphinx Glacier


Date: 2/20/2015


Trip Report:

We took an advantage of the nice forecast to ski around the Garibaldi Lake just south of Whistler. In my view this is a nicer and simpler trip than Garibaldi Neve, similar terrain but there is no need for the car shuttle.


The road is dry and open all the way to the trailhead. But upon arrival we were a bit surprised to see so much glass in the parking lot. There seemed to be remnants of car break-ins in all the parking spots. Quite disgusting.


The Rubble Creek trail is mostly snow free all the way to the 6km junction, some patches of dirty snow and ice start around 1400m. We stashed our hiking shoes at the junction and skinned to the W shoulder of Panorama Ridge where we set up a nice camp. Everything was idyllic until about 1 AM when it started blowing hard. I worried about our 3 season tent poles breaking.


Saturday morning we barely managed to take the tent down and set out toward the summit of Castle Towers Mountain. Travel was difficult, most of the snow was hard crust with isolated windslab patches. Lots of stomping the edges in, specially on the step parts. By the time we reached the top of Helm Glacier we were somewhat behind but still hopeful we could make the summit. Skiing down to Gentian Pass was great dust on crust, easy turns just like on the groomers, maybe even easier.


Skinning up Castle Towers was however hard again and by the time we down climbed the short couloir at the top of Polemonium Ridge it was clear we had neither time nor energy to ski the summit. A bit of disappointment but at least the wind finally died down and the views were spectacular.


We crossed over to the Sphinx and enjoyed another easy ski run, almost effortless compared with going up. A late afternoon climb to Sphinx Pass was rewarded by another ski run from the pass. Skiing Sentinel Glacier sucked because of rain runnels between 1800 and 1600m.


The UBC Glaciology Hut was in good shape and empty and we took advantage of that.


Sunday morning we climbed toward the Table Mountain, skied down toward Mt. Price, had a bit of difficulty crossing the deep ravine, steep slopes with not a lot snow made for difficult route finding. The following climb toward Mt. Price was a scorcher: full sun, no wind.


From the col between Clinker Peak and Mt. Price we followed someone's tracks along the summer route which they (and consequently we) promptly lost resulting in a bit of bushwhack. In hindsight the winter route via Price Bay over the lake would be much better choice.


We skied and walked between Battleship Islands back to the junction, hiked out and were grateful for the adventure, the views and the fact that nobody broke into the truck overnight.


Photos and Google Earth screenshot:


Gear Notes:

skis, skins, boot and ski crampons , ice axe, rope and glacier kit (not used)


Approach Notes:

Continuous snowline is around 1500m, that is just around Garibaldi Lake elevation. The lake is frozen and was skated over between Battleship Island (the outlet) and Sphinx Bay (where the VOC Burton Hut is). The ice thickness is reported to be 15 cm (unverified).

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