Eastpoint Peak

April 2, 2020


Manning Provincial Park, BC

I wasn’t planning to go out on this past Thursday but I changed my mind at 10 pm Wednesday night after hearing that my friend Alan Blair had just packed down a snowshoe track to the summit of Eastpoint Peak. This is a medium-sized peak by Manning Park standard so not super attractive, so despite the fact it had been on my radar for several years I always ended up doing something else. There was no more excuse this time. I knew this would be a longish drive for squeezing in a “before work exercise” but I accepted the challenge nonetheless. There aren’t a ton of beta about Eastpoint Peak online and the (only two or three) detailed trip reports were summer ascents via west ridge on the old ClubTread forum. The west ridge made a lot more sense back in the days when the old mine road was drivable to the pass with “Claimstake Mountain” but nowadays just to reaching the pass involved 10 km of mind-numbing plod, making the ascent a fairly long day-trip. Al had apparently done his homework and explored a new route up the north ridge and I agreed that his found the most efficient route to reach this summit. This route only makes sense in winter or spring when deep snowpack covers the brushes.

In order to get back home on time for my afternoon work while still having enough contingency for a much-needed nap I decided to ascend the peak entirely in dark, watch sunrise on the summit and then descend as fast as I humanly could and ideally I would make back home for lunch. To achieve this goal I must leave home no later than 1 am. This further meant I wouldn’t have any sleep, which was painful and miserable but not a big deal. I did manage to finish packing and food preparation about half an hour before my planned departure time but instead of going to sleep I decided to kill time on the internet. Based on my past experience there’s no way could I fall asleep with only half an hour’s time left anyway… After some Youtubes I left home at 1 am as planned and started the plod at 3:30 am.

Eastpoint Peak via North Ridge. GPX DL

I had come prepared with earphones because I knew the battle against fatigue, darkness, coldness and the boredness of this initial road plod (with zero sleep and a tiring 2+ hours drive) would be the crux. I donned snowshoes right off the bat. Al and Ashkan’s tracks were very visible so all I needed was to put one foot in front of another. There was more elevation gain on this road than I had remembered from a couple years ago when I did Silverdaisy, Claimstake and Hatchethead Mountains. The grade was almost consistent uphill. I plodded at a moderate pace and finished the 5-km approach in 1 hour 20 minutes. The track then did a short but steep descent to cross Smitheram Creek on a solid snow bridge before ascending steeply up what seemed like a cutblock. Al’s group had made some nice switchbacks on the uphill travel and (smartly) chose to not follow the uptracks on the descent so the tracks were well preserved for me. A while later the cutblock gave way to the mature forest and the grade eased off a bit. At this point the track was paralleling the creek on the south side but soon bailed into the creek. The travel was nice and pleasant. Further up the creek became what appeared like a narrow mini-canyon with steep walls on both sides. One downed tree required me to detour on climber’s left side but other than that, the travel was still pleasant and soon enough, I popped out in a bowl. In the pitch dark I followed the nicely laid out uptracks zig-zagging up a slide path (35+ degrees) and then traversed diagonally rightwards into the next basin. The sky finally brightened up a little bit.

Approaching the upper section of this bowl.

The terrain was bigger than anticipated so I couldn’t help but to pick up the pace, crushing the next stage in a timely manner to top out on the north ridge of Eastpoint Peak. The exit of this bowl onto the ridge involved a long stretch of 40 degree snow. At this point the sky was bright enough to snap a couple more pictures but still a long ways from sunrise. I hadn’t taken any break yet but the coldness and the anticipation of a sunrise summit kept me pushing at a fast pace. I followed the tracks over a few steep rolls and then over the false summit with some minor elevation loss. The summit ridge looked steep but feasible. There were two odd, 45 degree stretch that required some detouring or “technical snowshoeing” with moderate exposure. I even grabbed a tree branch to haul myself over a tricky step.

Midway up the final 40-degree slope to exit the bowl.

Partway up towards the false summit. Looking back

The final summit ridge ahead.

Looking back towards the false summit and the brightening sky

Ahead would be the crux step – 45 degrees with some exposure.

The summit was still a ways away just when I thought I was there, but the terrain was pretty easy on the last 10 minutes. I reached the summit about 20 minutes before sunrise, exactly 3 hours after leaving the truck. The condition felt more January than April that I had to dress in all layers (including my storm-degree parka) and was still shivering in the cold. It sure felt like -20 degrees with windchill. I waited till the sunrise, snapped as many photos as I could but couldn’t linger any longer due to the coldness.

Hozomeen Mountain from the summit when I just arrived

After 10 minutes the morning colours finally showed up

Sunrise in between the Third and Fourth Brother Mountains

The tip of Silvertip Mountain on alpenglow

A closer look at Snass Mountain, with Snazzy Peak attached on right

The north face of Mt. Brice

Silvertip Mountain on alpenglow

Silverdaisy Mountain in foreground; Mt. Outram pokes behind

A wider shot of the sunrise behind Three Brothers Mountain

This is looking east towards the core of Manning Park

Shawatum Mountain in foreground, on alpenglow

Porcupine Peak at center shot, with Frosty Mountain behind

Another shot of Hozomeen Mountain

Me on the summit of Eastpoint Peak

That short vege-belay step was tricky to descend that I had to face into the slope and made some sketchy step-kicking on my snowshoes. There were some more tricky “technical snowshoeing” afterwards but nothing felt sketchy and soon I was back to the col. I rushed back up the false summit and finally was able to take my parka off. Then I rushed down the north ridge and then into the bowl. Plunging down the dry powder was super fun on the 35-40 degree snow and in no time I was down into the woods. For that steep canyon stretch I plunged on the dry powder on the sides of the wall and then simply jumped that downed tree. There’s some gradual descending following but the cutblock was also fun and furious with lots of plunging and gliding. I rushed the 5-km road exit in just over 40 minutes and made back to the vehicle exactly 5 hours after leaving it in the morning, listening to music the whole way…

Another photo of Mt. Brice

Claimstake Mtn. and its east face that I snowshoed down in 2015

Another photo of the morning sun.

Looking down the summit ridge. It’s quite steep at places…

Silverdaisy Mountain and the old mining road cutting across its slope

The NE Face of Eastpoint Peak has some huge terrain

A closer look at Mt. Dewdney

Morning sun behind Nordheim Peak

This is that long stretch of steep descent into the bowl

Another photo of Nordheim Peak

Looking back towards the false summit.

Down into the bowl now, looking back

Easy and soft descent on dry powder

Snass Mountain

I only touched the sun beams for 1 min and it disappeared again..

The typical terrain around here..

Looking back at the lower slopes leading into the bowl.

Fast forward. Down below the cutblock now.

Back onto the road.

The only stretch of this road that had some sunshine…

Looking back from the same stretch

Crossing Skagit River on a fat bridge

From the same bridge, looking downstream.

I made my trail-head transition as fast as I humanly could, had some fight against fatigue and did get back home before lunch time. It wasn’t even 11 am when I rolled in, which was perfect for making a (big) meal and then napping a couple hours before the afternoon work. This was once again, an excellent trip following tracks made by Al’s party. I hope more baggers start to explore lesser-known summits, and share their adventures..