October 5, 2015
Manning Provincial Park, BC
Snass Mountain is one of the bigger objectives in Manning Park, an area in the BC Cascades dominated by rolling terrain, giant hills and non-technical mountains. I hadn’t done any peak around here before so making at least one visit was surely in the order before winter comes. I have to say I wasn’t quite in the mood of getting out immediately after the 2-day Phelix Creek peak-bagging trip, but weather was too nice to stay home… This objective wasn’t supposed to be a long one thank to the well-built trail system, but did involve 1500+ meters of elevation gain…
After a very non-alpine start (7:30 am from home) I drove out eastwards along Highway 1 then Highway 3. About 2.5 hours later I was already on my way up the Dewdney Trail. This was a relatively flat trail travelling on the valley floor and 2.5 km onwards I’d take the narrower and steeper branch – Whatcom Trail to the right. There’s not much to document about this trail other than a few bushy traverses through avalanche slide paths and the fact it seemed to keep going on and on forever. I could feel the distance and height gain I just covered in the previous two days. My legs weren’t happy and my mind was tired but at this point I had already committed to this ascent…
A few hours later I arrived at the col NW of my objective. Ahead the trail continued dropping down to Punch Bowl but that’s not where I was going. Instead I took a sharp turn to the right, changed my footwear to mountaineering boots then up the vegetated NW Ridge. There’s a bit of steep grass and scree to overcome at the start, a bit of light bushwhacking and then a bit of scrambling along a narrow ridge and soon I was standing on the first highpoint. The ascent to the false summit looked like Rockies’ styled scree bashing and I was right. The texture of the rocks felt more sedimentary than what I would expect from the BC Coastal mountain ranges.
From the false summit I got to see the pointy Snazzy Peak to the left. This was my first time seeing this interesting pinnacle and I think I’ll have to come back for it at some point. The true summit appeared fairly impressive along the ridge but it also showed the amount of ground I still had to cover. I was very beat (both physically and mentally) but at this point I really had no other choice other than sucking it up, and half an hour later I was on the top, soaking in the 360-degree views. I took a lengthy break regathering my strength before committing to the descent.
The descent was much faster than expected. Within 1 hour I was already back at the col. Boots off and sneakers on I was ready to game for the long hike-out. It’s also more pleasant than what I remembered from on the way in, although still fairly mind-numbing. Two hours later I arrived back at the parking lot and this concluded a fairly good day up a relatively mediocre objective.
Overall I can’t say I’d highly recommend Snass Mountain as a scramble objective. It’s a fairly long day out (roughly 25 km distance and 1500 m elevation gain), and the ascent is nothing but a long plod. The majority part is monotonous and there’s very minimal hands-on section. However, I have to say it’s a great viewpoint in Manning Park with most of the bigger peaks from Coquihalla Pass down to the North Cascades visible on a clear day, and nonetheless it’s a good peak to bag and a fairly big day for a work-out. And now with some rainy weather it’s time to rest up…