Iago Peak

December 12, 2015

1737m

Coquihalla Pass, BC

Iago Peak is the high point directly above the Great Bear snowshed and is a popular winter objective on the Coquihalla. The summit is barely above treeline and the standard route from Iago/Zupjok col via NE Ridge involves minimal avalanche risks. In stable conditions its broad north slope offers some of the best ski runs in that area. The original objective for this Saturday was the lowly Mara Peak by Manning Park ski resort but upon meeting with Ben and Matt near Abbotsford we increased our ambition in search for some better ski objectives. Nobody had done Iago nor Great Bear except for Ben but he’s happy to do them again showing us where the best ski runs were.

Iago Peak and Great Bear Peak ski routes

Iago Peak and Great Bear Peak ski routes. GPX DL

The weather was better than expected as we started our trip from Zopkios Rest Area. The initial approach follows the deactivated Ottomite Road which is the same as for Zupjok – Alpaca traverse that I did a few weeks ago. One creek crossing proved to be tricky on skis and we all had to take the skis off, but other than that it’s mostly cruise sailing to the broad, forested Ottomite/Zupjok col. The section from Ottomite/Zupjok col to Zupjok/Iago col involved some tight forest but with Ben leading the way I didn’t have to think too much about the route-finding.

Yak Peak from the parking lot

Yak Peak from the parking lot

Markhor Peak from the parking lot

Markhor Peak from the parking lot

Skinning up the Ottomite Road

Skinning up the Ottomite Road

Crossing the tricky creek

Crossing the tricky creek

The broad area near Ottomite/Zupjok col

The broad area near Ottomite/Zupjok col

Could see our objectives - Great Bear (L) and Iago (R)

Could see our objectives – Great Bear (L) and Iago (R)

There’s one interesting boulder field to ascend near the start thank to the low snow coverage but other than that the ascent via NE Ridge was nothing more than a mere plod. Alex and Ben did most of the trail-breaking on this day and I felt pretty beat even just trying to keep up with them. The summit was easily reached but some weather was moving in from the north-west. It’s apparent that if we only do Iago and Great Bear that’d be a very short day so after waiting for Matt to come up to the summit it’s time to make some decisions.

This is that boulder field

This is that boulder field

Matt ascending the boulder field

Matt ascending the boulder field

Typical on the NE Ridge

Typical on the NE Ridge

Good view of the Anderson River Group

Good view of the Anderson River Group

Alex plodding up

Alex plodding up

Arriving at the summit

Arriving at the summit

Looking down towards the highway and Coquihalla Pass

Looking down towards the highway and Coquihalla Pass

Ben knew this area very well so we just followed him. Instead of traversing to Great Bear Peak we did our first run down the broad N. Flanks of Iago Peak and it’s proved to be one of the best runs I’ve ever done. The snow condition was just ideal – no crust, no slush, just fine powder. There’s one steep gully near the top but the terrain soon levelled out to be mostly “intermediate” sparsely treed slopes. After finishing this run we put the skis back on and traversed back to Iago/Zupjok col, and then re-ascended Iago Peak following our skin tracks.

Skiing off the summit of Iago Peak

Skiing off the summit of Iago Peak

Alex dropping into the north bowl

Alex dropping into the north bowl

Me skiing down the north slopes

Me skiing down the north slopes. Photo by Alex

Skinning back up Iago Peak after finishing our first run

Skinning back up Iago Peak after finishing our first run

Back to the summit

Back to the summit

Could see Vicuna Peak this time (left of center)

Could see Vicuna Peak this time (left of center)

Me on the summit of Iago Peak

Me on the summit of Iago Peak

The weather had improved a bit – still overcast but no flurries. Our next objective was Great Bear Peak.

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