Edge Peak (White Dyke)

October 21, 2018


Golden Ears Provincial Park, BC

Although not the highest in the immediate vicinity the rugged spire of Edge Peak is well considered as the hardest summit in Golden Ears group. There are three known routes on this peak and some degree of rock climbing, bush thrashing and complicated route-finding is required no matter what. It seems like most parties chose to ascend via the White Dyke on NE Face and descend via a bushy traverse either northwards to Golden Ears or southwards to Blanshard Needle. The scrambling on White Dyke is reported to be “classic” and my interpretation of the difficulty is “BC 4th class” type of adventure, with generally solid holds. I had previously climbed Blanshard Needle on a separate trip but never paid a visit to the main summit of Golden Ears so the route decision was easy.

An ascent of Edge Peak via White Dyke had been on my radar for a while but for some reasons the trigger was never pulled. This was no longer the case until this past weekend. A dominator high pressure system had been settling over Pacific NW for over two weeks producing summer-like temperatures along with extremely dry conditions. This is very unusual for late October but I wouldn’t complain about it. Lily was keen to get on another technical climb before the monsoon season while Vlad and I had been tossing around this route in the last several years. The only downside was the logistics associated with Golden Ears Park’s gate hour. It has switched to “winter mode” after Thanksgiving and would open at 8 am and close at 5:30 pm sharply. There’s no way could we finish the climb within 10 hours but the recent beta from a friend’s trip stated that we could call the gate-keeper even at midnight to unlock us.

Edge Peak – Golden Ears Traverse route. GPX DL

Vlad had left a car outside the gate just in case the midnight phone call couldn’t go through because he absolutely had to be back home on time for Monday’s work. The three of us then squeezed in my Corolla and went for the West Canyon trail-head. We eventually managed to start the plod at around 8:30 am. As non-alpine as it seemed this was the earliest we could humanly do. The first hour was a mundane hike on a flat trail with minor up-and-downs and upon hitting a tight corner the trail gradually ascends into an area known as Alder Flats. We past a couple campers at the flats and left the main trail heading up one of the several dry creek beds. I didn’t do much research but by following the previous party’s GPS tracks we ascended the rightmost creek bed and this helped us avoiding any form of bushwhacking. That big alluvial fan leading to the base of White Dyke has some loose rocks and seemed to take forever. We even got off route at the base of the White Dyke by staying too much on the climber’s left side. After trying a few moves on the nonsense I backtracked and went around. I did find a slabby, but “class 2” only route but then I had to set up a top-rope anchor for Lily and Vlad who got themselves stuck in the middle of a steep strip of moraine. They had to essentially batman up the fixed rope and this unplanned pitch costed us at least half a hour valuable daylight time.

Hiking up Golden Ears trail.

Our first view of Edge Peak.

Merging into one of the dry washes now

Vlad heading up the alluvial fan underneath Edge’s NE Face

Plodding up. The rocks here are loose

A sideways shot to show the increasingly steep terrain

Passing a gigantic boulder in the gully

Ascending into a “rock garden” now.

The only photo I took that shows the obvious White Dyke.. It looks steep…

This was our off-route pitch due to my terrible route-finding error.

Lily finishing this off-route moraine pitch.

Vlad simply opted to batman up the rope.

The sketchiest spot of the entire White Dyke climb is supposed to be at the bottom and upon close examination we decided to properly pitch it out. Meanwhile I also swapped my footwear to rock shoes and because of that I volunteered to lead this pitch. I did not find this pitch “easy” at all despite what other trip reports indicate. The texture of these rocks is slabby with a lot of holds being “down-sloppers”. There is also virtually nowhere to place natural protections without using pitons. I did clip in a rusted piton but that’s already after the hardest moves, and a .4 sized cam in a thin crack higher up. The rock shoes were the game changer and despite some hesitations along the way it didn’t take me long to reach the top anchor. I then belayed Lily and Vlad up on separate strands. From there onward we unroped proceeding in the easier, but still stiff 3rd-4th class terrain with huge exposure. I did not switch the rock shoes back to trail-runners until much higher up when the slope angle started to ease off. The terrain then transitioned to mostly class 2-3 and the scrambling was no longer scary, but rather fun and enjoyable.

Me leading the crux pitch at the bottom of the dyke. Photo by Lily Q.

Lily climbing up the crux pitch…

Vlad stemming up a stiff 4th class step after the crux pitch.

Me and Vlad climbing up unroped now. A mistake isn’t an option. Photo by Lily Q.

Vlad pulling up another strenuous step.

Upwards and onward. The dyke’s getting mellower gradually

The ascent of NE Face “White Dyke” was very foreshortened. The GPS technology wouldn’t lie, that despite what appeared we had to gain a huge amount of elevation. It was fun though so I wouldn’t complain about it… At one point we traversed along a broad bench climber’s left and then ascended onto the “upper slabs”. The route-finding became complicated again but I don’t think the microscopic route selection would matter much here. The slope angle was tame overall and any line would go at “class 2-4”. The line we picked was mostly 3rd class with one or two 4th class moves thrown in for a good measure. Our next break was after toppin’ out on the NW Ridge in the sunshine.

Lily continuing leading the dyke

Taking a break on this middle bench.

Vlad stepping up another 4th class move on the upper route

Lily working her way up the typical slabs

This is the “upper slabs”. A bit airy but very fun.

At last, the scrambling was over.

A zoomed-in shot of Lily hiking into the sunshine

Topping out on the NW Ridge shoulder. Time to ditch some gears

This was my first ever close-up view of Golden Ears

Upwards and onward we ascended steep heather slope along NW Ridge to the base of that infamous “chockstone chimney”. Vlad went ahead stemming up the middle of it while Lily and I avoided that move by climbing the left side vertical wall on blocky up-sloping face holds. Our routes merged at halfway up the chimney and the upper half still involved a few 4th class moves on face holds. Above the chimney we ascended a mix of steep heather and 3rd class rock exiting climber’s left back onto the ridge proper. The last stretch leading up to the north (false) summit was easy, but then I was surprised to see a higher (true) summit to the south.

Vlad and me heading for the squeeze chimney.

Lily hiking up some steep heather slopes

Vlad starting up the chimney climb

Vlad higher up in the chimney…

Looking down at Lily climbing the chimney

Continuing up this is Vlad dealing with another tricky move

Lily working her way up the same 3rd class move

Exiting the chimney area now onto more heather slopes

Back onto the NW Ridge proper, looking down to see the shadow of Edge Peak

Vlad ascending onto the false summit

No excuse for the wicked that we absolutely had to traverse there in order to tag this summit… Without any lingering I started down the ridge narrowing into a knife-edge. The exposure was real and the width was at most 1-2 feet although the scrambling was at most “3rd class”. The climb up the north side of the south summit was straightforward and in 5.5 hours since leaving the car we were celebrating on this rewarding summit.

Lily descending the south ridge of the north summit

Another shot of Lily descending the false summit into the saddle

A closer look at the knife-edge

Summit Panorama from Edge Peak. Click to view large size.

Blanshard Needle is another tough scramble in this area

The twin summits of Golden Ears

Looking up the Gold Creek valley towards Mt. Judge Howay

Lily approaching the true summit of Edge Peak

Robertson Peak on the skyline one of the several SW BC’s “Ultras”

The infamous Mt. Judge Howay is of course an “Ultra”…

Mt. Robie Reid isn’t quite an “Ultra”, but prominent enough to be a “P4K”…

Stonerabbit – Ratney – Bardeen Group with Mt. Urquhart behind

The Old Settler on the skyline

Mt. Baker on the southern skyline with the valley inversion

The massif of Mamquam Mountain

These are some very obscured peaks – Old Pierre Mountain and Remote Peak

The equally obscured Katzie Massif on Stave Glacer

The northern end of Pitt Lake with some very remote country behind

Me taking in the views with Blanshard Needle behind

Me on the summit of Edge Peak

Our group shot on the summit of Edge Peak

The plan was to bag both Edge Peak and Golden Ears so we couldn’t afford lingering too long on this summit. After half an hour’s stay we leisurely started the traverse back to the false summit. To get down the NW Ridge we actually didn’t have to touch the cairn on that false peak but we did no nonetheless just to be sure. There’s no obvious anchor above the chockstone chimney so after a bit of discussion we just opted to down-climb, and that was pretty fun. Lower down we thrashed through some krummholz and did two consecutive 30-m rappels off the ridge’s nose. Both rappels were near vertical and the second one had a tricky start as we had to literally rappel through a batch of krummholz… But it’s manageable. The last stretch of the descent down into Edge/Golden Ears col had the worst bush thrashing but I wasn’t sure whether or not we stayed on the best route. The ridge got so dense that we had to bail down the west side in search for some open ground. That was no fun but once down, all of the difficulties’ behind.

Lily hiking back across the saddle towards the false summit

Vlad dealing with a bushy step

Looking over Evans Peak towards the forested plateau of Mt. Crickmer

Another view of Mt. Judge Howay and Mt. Robie Reid

Another view of Golden Ears

Vlad descending from the false summit

Looking down the entire route of NE Face’s White Dyke

Descending easy heather slopes

Me down-climbing into the chimney. Photo by Lily Q.

Vlad and Lily down-climbing the upper chimney

Lily stemming down the lower chimney.

Back onto the easy terrain on Edge’s NW Ridge

All of the sudden we were facing the first vertical drop…

Me leading down the first of the two full length rappels

Vlad on Rappel #1

Vlad on Rappel #2

Finishing the two rappels and back on non-technical terrain

Lots of bush thrashing in the next stage

Happy to have exited the timbers

Lily exiting the woods and down into Edge/Golden Ears col

Upwards again this is Vlad with Edge Peak behind

Vlad and Lily hiking up to join the main Golden Ears trail

Without wasting any time we soon started the upwards ascent to join the main Golden Ears Trail for an ascent of Golden Ears. I’m an odd one who did Blanshard Needle and Edge Peak before Golden Ears leaving the most popular one at the last. Upon reflecting the ascent of Edge Peak via White Dyke I would agree that this is a classic line that deserves to see more traffic but do expect a long day. The climbing is the typical “BC Coastal 4th class” that doesn’t get too much harder than the other routes I did in the same grade (Rexford, Habrich, East Lion to name a few)…