Date: January 15, 2017
Location: Mt. Outram (just west of Manning Park)
Partners: ET and Kenyon
Distance: ~18 km (1800 m elevation gain, 2461 peak elevation)
Time: six hours up, two down
Resources: Exploring the Coast Mountains On Skis
BC has been enjoying a prolonged cold spell which has kept snow on the ground in Vancouver since December 5. With clear, cold weather forecast to end early in the week, there was an opportunity for a winter ascent of a mountain in sunny weather with good stability. It doesn’t hurt that little precipitation and hammering winds have rendered a lot of the skiing “sporty”.
Mt. Outram is a good objective in these conditions since it has excellent prominence (about 1000 m) and a relatively low start point of 670 m. Since the areas east of Vancouver typically receive a little less snow then points further north, this season gave us the opportunity to skin starting from the highway and also enjoy relatively hassle-free skiing back at the end of the day. Eric and I had also caught a good glimpse of the mountain the previous weekend on an aborted attempt on Mt. Forddred.
There is very little to report in terms of the ascent. We followed the marked trail with little difficulty up to the creek crossing at 1500 m as described in John Baldwin’s book and other resources online. Our only potential mistake was trying to follow the drainage before crossing the creek. It seemed that we spent much more time on steep sidehill and bush than if we had rather crossed first. After stunted progress to somewhere past the forking of the creek into two arms, we dropped down to the south arm and crossed (entirely snow-covered) and ascended to the more open basin on the indistinct ridge that separates the arms. It was four hours to this point with very light trailbreaking the whole way up.
After our second lunch break we ascended the last steep section. I needed to kick steps in the severely wind scoured pitch while Kenyon was able to ascend with ski crampons. Avoiding the large cornices on the east lee slopes, we skinned the scour to the top by 2:00 and checked out some pretty stellar views of Judge Howay, Robie Reid, and a dominant Mt. Hozomeen. There are some minor objective hazards to avoid on the way. One spillway has potential to carry you over a cliff in the event of a fall and two narrow chutes drop away from the summit ridge about 20 meters from the south summit. Both of these features may cease to pose a concern in different conditions. The wind prevented a dallying loaf around the summit and we quickly skied back to the protection of the trees and eventually the car without any need to dig out skins.