November 26, 2015
Coquihalla Pass, BC
Zupjok Peak is a small summit surrounded by the Coquihalla’s jagged granite spires. This peak itself is not really an interesting objective but is often used to access the much-bigger Alpaca Peak a few kilometers back along the ridge. The ridge traverse would make a “moderate” winter objective without too much of complex terrain. It seemed like a great idea for this past Thursday as I was low on motivation, but the weather was too good to stay home.
After forcing myself to wake up at 5 am I quickly made my way eastwards along Highway 17, Highway 1 and then Highway 5. It’s all fast travel and I made to the parking lot by Zupkios Rest Area at the Coquihalla summit just after sunrise. It was cold and windy so I started the hike immediately. The first part would be following the deactivated Ottomite Mountain Road for a few kilometers and I had to put snowshoes on right from the start. The trail was packed down by previous snowshoeers so that’s a bonus for me. Their tracks continued down the other side of Zupjok/Ottomite col and I got confused as whether to keep following or not. It just kept traversing as opposed to ascending and entered some bushy terrain and I wondered if those guys really knew where they were going.. Or maybe they were going for Iago / Great Bear Peaks. But anyway, I left their tracks and started ascending straight up.
It turned out that I never came across their tracks anymore so they must have gone up Iago Peak or they just went for some snowshoe touring. From where I left their tracks the ascent was a mere plod up the broad SW Ridge, although steep at places. There were intermittent flaggings marking the route helping the route-finding although I found they weren’t necessary in winter conditions. The snowpack had a hard crust layer that my Lightning Ascents could bite firmly on, allowing some fast uphill travel. It didn’t take me long to arrive at a few opening areas at roughly 3/4 of the way up where I took my first break.
The rest of the ascent was fairly uneventful but the views just kept opening up towards each direction with the granite spires by Anderson River Group stealing the show. The actual summit was partially forested so I had to wonder around a bit to soak in all the views. The rest of the traverse appeared to be fairly long but mostly open ridge walk.
Unfortunately the wind was bone chilly so I started descending the other side soon, focusing on the next objective.