Great Bear Peak
December 12, 2015
Coquihalla Pass, BC
This peak is only marginally lower than the nearby Iago Peak and is also directly above the Great Bear snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (hence the name). In good snow conditions these two peaks offer some great ski runs in the region and are easily accessible via the deactivated Ottomite Road. Alex, Ben, Matt and I took advantage of the conditions so after ascending Iago Peak twice we finally decided to traverse to Great Bear Peak.
The descent from the summit of Iago Peak down to Iago/Great Bear col was short, but very steep and bluffy. Some rocks were still not fully covered yet and the snow was a little bit icy. While the other skiers all went down with style I had to take my time side-slipping as I couldn’t do tight turns on steep terrain… The ascent of Great Bear Peak from the col was easy, and this peak offers some better view down towards the Highway than its neighbour.
Now it’s time to ski off Great Bear Peak. In a few seconds I realized what we were aiming at was the huge NE face that we saw earlier… Oh well… The snow was good, but not the greatest (icy at places) and the terrain was probably more than 40 degrees at its steepest and fairly long and sustained. The other skiers all went down in seconds but there’s no way I could commit to the turns here given my limited skiing experience. A few kick-turns and some long side-slipping traverses solved the problem, and the skiing down the lower face was great. We then continued down the run until it’s getting bushy, and the next section was the worst in this trip – bushwhack traversing back to Ottomite/Zupjok col. The rest of the descent was uneventful with mostly fast cruising.
The storm finally came in at this time but thankfully we were almost back to the parking lot. The snow came pretty heavily and I was glad we didn’t have to ski in that weather… Driving back to the city it was pouring rain for pretty much the entire way. Weather for Sunday wan’t looking too promising but we were still going out..