Sunday, August 25, 2013

Buchan Bay (Okanagan Mountain Park)

Crappy weather in Rogers Pass kept us closer to home this weekend. Eager to get some exercise we made a short overnight trip to Okanagan Mountain Park. We did a similar trip last June except that this time we stayed at Buchan Bay rather than Commando Bay.

Wild Horse Canyon aka The Fire Swamp was much drier and less buggy than last year. There's some great potential for rock climbing along the canyon walls although the approach would be a little gruelling.

We must have seen about 20 grouse. They would explode out of the undergrowth and scare the life out of us every time. If they just stayed still we would never see them. It took about 4 hours to get through the canyon and onto the open plateau above the lake.

Alpine umbrellas were occasionally called into action.

Dinner was enjoyed under the tarp as we watched the sun go down on the opposite side of the lake. The next morning dawned clear and warm.

We had a nice swim, chatted with the neighbours, packed up, and returned home by late afternoon.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Lunette Peak

A couple of weeks have passed since we climbed Lunette Peak. With my rose-tinted glasses at the ready I can finally begin writing this one up.

Calling Lunette a 'peak' is pretty generous since it's really just bump on the south ridge of Mount Assiniboine. However it is listed as an official 11,000er so some amongst us must needs climb the darn thing. That being said I'm very glad it is on The List because it's worth climbing this peak just to visit such a beautiful place.

Our trip began with a lovely hike along Assiniboine Creek that included a groovy log crossing complete with hand rail.

After a few hours we reached Lunette Lake and had the first views of our ultimate objective. The lake is a worthy destination in it's own right.

From the lake we made our way through steep brush, across a couple of avalanche paths, ground our way upwards over nasty scree, and finally arrived at this superb bivy site perched on a mossy plateau 6 hours after leaving the car.

The next morning we ascended from the bivy site over more awesome scree before donning crampons for this long and thankfully snow filled gully.

Exiting from the gully the expansive west face opened up above us.

It was here that we first encountered cairns marked with prodigious quantities of flagging tape. Initially we were grateful for the help, but soonthere were so many cairns festooned in bright pink tape that we became dismissive of them. We joked about what type of climber would place flagging tape every 20 metres. Little did we know...

Up we went, winding our way along rubble strewn ledges, until reaching the snowfield that lead up to the Assiniboine-Lunette cCol.

Here the threatening weather finally took a turn for the worse. At the col the wind was howling and the light rain turned into a driving snow that quickly soaked through our pants and gloves. This was definitely a low point. We knew we were close to the summit but the dripping wet rock and swirling snow confounded us. We wandered back and forth for quite a while trying to find an easy way up.

After a good hour of this the wind began tugging at the mist. It lifted just a little bit before settling back thick and heavy. Then in a matter of minutes the clouds lifted completely, giving us just long enough to find the now obvious way to the top.

We didn't dawdle. A few quick photos before rapping off the summit block back down into the mist and the rain. Once off the snow it was amazing how quickly we lost our way in the featureless wet scree. Now we begged to find more of the flagged cairns which we had rejected with disdain on the way up.

Well, it wasn't quite that dramatic I guess, but we had our moments.

Each cairn we stumbled across was treated like a long lost friend before we eventually got below the clouds.

That's about it except that SWINE MARMOTS ATE MY PACK!

Cresting the final rise before the bivy site we looked up just in time to see two enormous marmots beating a hasty retreat. Pots and pans were strewn about and my pack had been dragged out from the vestibule into the pouring rain. The buggers had just about severed one shoulder strap and generally had a good gnaw on the rest of it. This sorely tested 20 years of vegetarianism! But with the tarp up, soup in our bellies, and with a good dent made in the wine (Ross you are a hero) all was eventually forgiven.

To sum up, Lunette Peak itself is somewhat of a chore, but if that's the excuse one needs to visit this beautiful area, it's well worth the effort.