November 26, 2015
Coquihalla Pass, BC
About a month ago I did my first trip to the famous Coquihalla Pass and ascended two of the tallest objectives in that area – Vicuna Peak and Guanaco Peak. From the summit of Vicuna Peak I was impressed by a huge slabby wall about 1-2 km to the west – the NE Face of Alpaca Peak. It’s apparent that the NE Face would offer some (maybe even unclimbed) rock routes but as a peak-bagger what actually interested me was the easiest route up this mountain. Basic Google search led me to the conclusion that the broad S. Slope and SE Ridge is a mere “walk-up” and can even be done in winter conditions. The approach is often done via a long ridge traverse from Zupjok Peak.
A not-so-often November high pressure system provided me a good opportunity to get this trip done. After traversing over Zupjok Peak and Llama Peak I immediately focused on the primary objective of this trip. The broad SE Ridge appeared to be indeed nothing more than a “walk-up”, but upon close inspection I realized there’s one steep roll about halfway up the slope that might be a bit “interesting”. Given the extremely crusty/icy conditions and the fact I left my ice axe at home I opted to bypass it about 50 meters to the left (west). There’s still a bit of steep treed slope to traverse/ascend but after regaining the ridge I was back on easy terrain.
The view of Vicuna Peak just kept improving as it’s getting sharper and sharper as I gradually approaching the summit. The actual summit was quite broad and I had to wonder around to soak in all the views. Unfortunately for me it was cold and very windy (and I forgot to bring my balaclava on this trip), so I couldn’t linger too long up there.
Now what I had to do was basically retracing my steps back along the ridge up and over the summits of Llama Peak, the unnamed bump and then Zupjok Peak. It’s an easy process as all I needed was simply following my tracks (without even having to think about the route-finding). I even on purposely slowed down a bit as the views were pretty mind-blowing and I didn’t quite want to leave them behind. But eventually I had to get back into the trees and then it’s a fast process plunging down the snow. The final few kilometers of walk along Ottomite Road was not inspiring though and felt much longer than what I remembered from this morning.
I think my round trip time was around 7 hours or so but I didn’t have to do much post-holing at all thank to the bullet-proof base layer. It’s a fairly moderate day out and I’d for sure recommend this trip to strong snowshoe parties, and by the way, despite the terrain is fairly easy you should save it for a good-weather day otherwise you’ll regret…