Date: July 23, 2016
Location: Coquihalla, BC
Partners: Will, Christian, Riley
Distance: 9 km, ~1000 m gross elevation
Time: ~6.5 hours
Will and Peter were in town and I wanted to do a good scramble somewhere I hadn’t been before. Since Will had taken Peter up the Chief on Friday, he ended up a bit too broken to join us for the scramble on Saturday.
A Markhor-Needle enchainment was not something I already knew people did, but flipping through the guidebook made a simple Needle ascent sound too short to bother with the drive. I had been up here skiing in April where we ascended Markhor to the base of the summit scramble, skied back to the highway, then ascended Needle to its summit scramble, so I checked if a summer enchainment was possible.
Several blog resources showed that it would be a pleasant multi-hour scramble between the peaks with two short, exposed sections amidst lots of quality second and third class scrambling.
The ascent was straightforward. Some blogs indicated an abundance of bushwacking to gain the alpine on Markhor but we found very little in that regard by following the path of least resistance uphill. Once we reached the summit of Markhor the trail seemed mostly obvious since you follow a ridgeline which connects Markhor and Needle. The descent from the summit of Markhor is easiest down a wide crack slightly on the (skier’s) left of the ridge. Two cruxes are widely reported elsewhere, one is an exposed downclimb to a notch. There was rap tat here and we had brought a 20 m rope but everyone was comfortable without using it.
The second crux was on the final ascent up to Needle. It is a short section with some very large holds that are held on with a prayer. Be careful of trundling this loose stuff onto your partners.
Once we reached the summit of Needle, we simply followed the well-beaten trail back to the highway. While we didn’t see a single person between leaving the highway and reaching Needle Peak, we saw several dozen on our descent. We also didn’t see much of the surrounding peaks (Yak, for example) due to a pretty heavy dose of clouds. Overall, the enchainment gives some peacefulness in a popular hiking area, greatly increases the total amount of scrambling, and hands you two nice summits in one relatively short day.