November 15, 2015
North Shore Mountains, BC
Mt. Strachan is the highest peak in the southern portion of Cypress Provincial Park and because of the ski hills one can easily drive up to elevation of 900+ m on a paved road, making it one of the easiest hikes in the North Shore. It’s a great objective when I don’t have enough time, energy or motivation and the ideal time is off-season when the snow makes some more dramatic views. This past Sunday was one of “those days” that I didn’t want to push too much. I wasn’t even planning to go out initially but once I saw clouds beginning to lift up in the morning I made the spontaneous decision to head out. My mom could join since it’s a Sunday trip and after lunch, off we went.
Apparently we could start snowshoeing right from the start but it’s also appeared to be heavily tracked by snowmobiles, snowshoeers and (mostly), hikers. In fact, we had to park fair a ways back in the parking lot thank to the hordes of people getting out. We didn’t want to take a chance so strapped the ‘shoes on. There’re infinitely many ways to get up this summit and we picked the easiest one – up the Collins run (a green line). Well, we were following the snowmobiles and previous parties’ tracks anyway. We did take one short-cut near Hollyburn/Strachan col on our way to the top of “Lions Express”. There’s a small down-hill following before the final rise towards the south summit.
Now what we needed was nothing but following the road up (in this case, keep following the snowmobile/snowshoe/boot tracks). Higher up there were a few switch backs and since we were wearing the ‘shoes we took a few short-cuts to save some distance. After a while we reached the top of the next chairlift. Turning right following the broad ridge we soon reached the south summit. Some clouds were rolling in but it appeared they gonna dissipate soon.
Getting to the north (true) summit was the real adventure of this trip. There’s a steep descent off the south peak into the col and the terrain was too steep for snowshoes. We soon took them off and booted down the slope. Thankfully the parties ahead had made the steps for us and even that it was fairly icy. Ascending the other side was again, steep and icy but didn’t impose too much of a problem to us. We waited for almost an hour on the summit and the weather was indeed getting better and better. The clouds rolling in and out made some dramatic views.
Eventually it’s the time to get down. We paid extra caution on the slippery slopes from the north peak down to the col and then up the other side. Once we got back to the south peak the tricky stuffs were over. Now there’s about 1 hour before sunset so I made the call to wait for more pictures. Unfortunately a layer of clouds rolled in obscuring all of our views. We did wait for 1 hour but it was no good, so went down. Lower down we got out of the cloud layer but it was already too late for the sunset (but OK for some dusk and night views).
Mt. Strachan turned out to be an excellent half-day outing. It was actually my second time up here. A few weeks ago I went up there solo hoping for sunset and low clouds scenery but got nothing but white-out. I didn’t bother with the true summit nor did I bother to write a trip report. I’m glad I came back for the views.