Date: July 31 – August 2, 2021
Location: Place Glacier
Partners: Brittany, Will
I am getting a little older and a little less motivated and that’s okay. For the August long weekend I wanted to head north of Pemberton and scramble some or all of Beaujolais Peak, Sockeye Horn, Chipmunk Peak, and Canine but my tolerance for pinstriping is low and some research revealed that the East Hope Creek FSR is very bushy.
On Friday evening we pulled the chute on driving up the logging roads off the Hurley and turned our attention to the Place Glacier between Pemberton and D’arcy. Rather than tens of kilometers of rough roads, we parked 100 m off of the paved Pemberton Portage road at a gravel cul-de-sac.
As usual, we were using Matt Gunn’s Scrambles guidebook but most of the weekend we found the descriptions just a bit off in this area. I usually find this guide very easy to follow but I was either misunderstanding the route descriptions or his descriptions were a little more vague than usual. The first confusion was at the very start where Matt describes a gate before the train tracks but there is only one after. It’s plastered with a few ‘Private Property’ and ‘No Trespassing’ signs so we walked the train tracks for a bit until we hit a sandy trail that led to the hydro line cut. I think you can probably just pass the gate but I understand the approach begins on private property so I would recommend being respectful and exercising good judgment.
We wandered our way next to Place Creek until we picked up the pink flagging of the trail. The trail kicks up steeply and climbs next to a surprisingly big waterfall until an eventual crossing on a logjam. On the opposite side of the creek there was a bit more bush to pass through before a second crossing returned us to the original side of the creek. More wandering through a forest full of meandering streams and fresh grey gravel (some recent land slips?) popped us out in a rocky basin below the glacier.
With the views much-improved, we scrambled slowly up the rock steps on our way to the two glaciology huts. The guidebook shows the glacier terminating at a lake but in the last 15 years since it was published, the glacier has receded and created a new lake above the original.
We staked a claim to the smaller of the huts and went to bed early, pretty tired from the 1300+ meters of ascent in 4 or 5 kilometers. In the morning there was a strong wind and bouts of fat raindrops. Cirque Peak is described as a difficult scramble so we were waiting for the weather to clear but by the time it did we had lowered our sights to Mt. Gardiner. We scrambled the peak in the opposite direction as described in the guidebook, stopping for lunch at the col with views to Mt. Oleg and a short side scramble to the first subpeak south of the col.
On the return to the hut we went and checked out the toe of the Place Glacier rather than cross the creek between the two lakes as we had on the way up. From afar it looked covered in sand and we thought it would be easy to walk across in our boots. After a few test steps and a lack of full confidence, I bailed on that plan and forded the creek at the toe. Will managed to cross the toe and skip the ford.
As we cooked dinner we watched a bear get out of the lower lake after a little swim and shake off. It ambled along the lakeshore until I startled it and it started running up the rock slabs away from us. Once it was over the ridge beyond, we never saw it again.
We also inspected the larger hut and read the log book. We learned that the Place Glacier has been actively monitored for years as part of an international tracking effort.
After another long sleep, we had our second lazy breakfast and packed up. The trail was no faster on the descent on account of losing the trail once (entering the forest for the first time below the rocky basin) and the steep, loose grades lower down near the waterfall. The temperature was ratcheting up as we descended and was in the mid 30’s by the time we got to the car, ready for a swim at One Mile Lake and the drive back to the city.