Shulaps Peak

October 16, 2022


Gold Bridge, BC

Shulaps Range occupies a large area immediately to the north of Carpenter Lake and east of the Chilcotin Mountains and Shulaps Peak is the highest in this area. The official name is misplaced on the maps as it’s well accepted that the high point of this range, about a kilometer to the south-east is the “true” Shulaps Peak. It’s unfortunate that most of the peaks in this range, Shulaps Peak included, are broad and dome-shaped that offer no technical difficulty whatsoever. The biggest attraction of this peak might actually be the prominence (over 1300 m) and because of that, I’ve seen Vancouver-based, or even internationally-famed peak-baggers coming from abroad to claim this summit. The prominence is also the primary reason why I planned this trip, but isn’t the sole reason. For once in a while I would like to pay a visit to this area despite the long and contrived drive, mostly for a change of scenery.

It seems that most parties use Jim Creek to the west to access (at least on the internet) but that approach requires a nasty traverse and/or elevation loss on the east side of the col immediately south of the peak. After evaluating the maps I decided to take the Brett Creek approach from the south which avoids any “class 3” or loose terrain. Sarah R. and I had been talking to get out over the weekend. I threw out a few suggestions and I was surprised that she didn’t rule out Shulaps Peak due to the lack of technical climbing. Vlad also messaged me and I was also surprised that he wanted to join, as a day-trip to Shulaps Peak would require more driving than hiking, hence breaking his own “rule”. Sarah offered to take her monstrous truck imported in from Japan. There are three ways to get to the area and each has its own merits. I insisted to take Hurley-Carpenter route in favour of robustness but we talked about taking the Mission Ridge-D’Arcy route (shortest) on the way back home to scout it out for future references. While driving northwards I ordered some burritos from Sunny Chiba in Squamish for dinner. I forgot to buy sandwiches for breakfast but I did bring a stove and some spicy ramen. The drive was overall uneventful and as expected and Sarah drove generally faster than me. We were even able to drive up the narrow spur road at the start of Brett Creek trail to shave off at least half an hour’s work in the morning. This spur road definitely required a high clearance and 4×4 vehicle.

Shulaps Peak via Brett Creek. GPX DL

Sarah has an excellent sleeping set-up in the truck that made me feel as comfortable as at home. Poor Vlad had to sleep in his own tent in the cold. There’s a lot of condensation in the morning. We all got up at around 6:40 am and managed to start the plod an hour later. The trail in Brett Creek drainage was in some excellent shapes but we soon learnt the reason, as this area seems to frequent horse traffics. Nonetheless the plod up Brett Creek trail was boring and monotonous, but because of the excellent trail conditions we also dispatched elevation and distance more quickly than I thought. We started the hike at 1300 m elevation and joined Shulaps Traverse trail at at horse camp just under 2000 m elevation. There seemed to have multiple trails in the next zone and we somehow took a wrong one. The correct bearing was to take the leftmost trail with some elevation loss upon reaching any intersection, that we learnt later on the return. The wrong trail soon took a sharp right turn going towards the opposite direction that we wanted, so we left the trail, thrashed across some drainages with dense vegetation, and did a side-hill traverse across boulders to get back into the upper Brett Creek drainage. We then had no problem plodding up the grass and meadows in this drainage and this section finally had some Chilcotins feel with broad valleys and tall walls.

Vlad leading up the boring ass approach trail.
Looking back through a gap in the trees towards Mt. Williams in Bendor Range
Breaking through the trees and this is the typical scenery at treeline
Bushwhacking unnecessarily thank to an error in route-finding
We also had to traverse across this tedious slopes of boulder fields
Finally back on route, Vlad plodding up the vast grass slopes
Sarah and Vlad started to do some rock picking
Me and Vlad plodding up the Brett Creek valley
Upwards and onward….
Sarah plodding up. The trip finally started to become scenic at this point
Our objective, Shulaps Peak looms over 700 vertical meters above
Vlad and Sarah soldiering on…

We ditched some unnecessary gears and I swapped footwear from trail runners to mountaineering boots at the base of our ascent route. The packs suddenly felt much lighter as I had brought too much redundant gears for contingency purposes. To get out of this cirque surrounded by Shulaps Peak and its south peak we had to deal with some steep terrain, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked from afar. The entire scramble could be done in the realm of “class 2” but we on purposed picked some 4th class steps for fun. Above the steep parts we plodded into the “upper cirque” with a significantly foreshortened slope leading upward into a shallow notch on Shulaps Peak’s east ridge. The wind picked up dramatically once hitting the ridge, but it wasn’t cold and we also finally ascended above the smoke layer that had been obscuring the views earlier in the day. The plod up the east ridge onto the summit was definitely the highlight with great views towards all directions. At this point we made the decision to omit add-on summits as they all seemed rather boring, so we might as well do a long stay on the high point to soak in our first Shulaps Range experience.

Me and Vlad started to take harder lines for fun…
Vlad contemplating a class 4 variation. Vlad opted out but Sarah and I opted in.
Vlad then scrambled around on unstable terrain
Sarah plodding up.
Me tackling a optional “green slabs” step
Sarah following me up the optional slab step
Plodding into the upper draw now
Sarah and Vlad with Shulaps Peak’s south peak behind
Me plodding up the vast terrain in the upper draw
The very foreshortened slopes in the upper draw took a long while
We finally started to ascend above the smoke layer. Mt. Truax in the background
Discovering a cool, but dying glacier on the north slopes of Shulaps Peak
Vlad leading up the broad east ridge, battling the winds
Sarah plodding up the east ridge with bunch of “Shulaps East Peaks” behind
Me high up on Shulaps Peak east ridge
Vlad on the east ridge.
Sarah shows the scale of the terrain here. The peaks are easy, but big.
Summit Panorama from Shulaps Peak. Click to view large size.
I scrambled all the way to that spot for Instagram shots.
Sarah approaching the summit of Shulaps Peak with Yalakom Valley behind
This is the typical Shulaps Range terrain. Chilcotins behind on the far horizon
Looking towards the west end of Carpenter Lake where Gold Bridge is
Another photo of me doing my Social Media thing, with Mt. Truax behind
Vlad on the summit of Shulaps Peak with Big Dog Mountain in the far back
Sarah looking north from the summit
Our group shot on the summit of Shulaps Peak

The decision was made to retrace the exact route that we took on the ascent with the exception of that boulder field part. The descent off the upper mountain took no time as the scree was fun to plunge down. The descent of the steep parts required some caution as the terrain was blocky and loose. We then took a long break at the gear cache before resuming the easy descent down Brett Creek drainage. Lower down I led us descending a straight beeline towards Shulaps Traverse trail to avoid that boulder fields or any unnecessary side-hilling. This route was not entirely free of bushwhacking, but was overall much quicker than the one we took on the ascent. I then let Vlad to set the pace down the trail and we plodded out in about an hour or two. Again, this trail was very boring and I wished that I had brought my earphones for music. The bright side of finishing a hike early in the day was to see the views on our drive-home. The drive around Carpenter Lake itself was very scenic so we stopped numerous times to be tourists. We then drove up and over Mission Ridge to Seton Portage and then D’Arcy. The conclusion was not obvious. This route has much shorter distance on gravel, but the parts on gravel was worse than the Hurley. I think if I were to choose I would prefer the 3rd option, to go through Lillooet via Hope, but that’s also because I live in the Fraser Valley instead of the North Shore. We eventually got back to Pemberton at dinner time and I got back to White Rock at 10:30 pm. This trip turns out to have 12 hours on the road for me, for 7.5 hours of hiking. Worth it? Hell yes!

After about an hour we had to start descending…
Sarah and Vlad doing their rock picking again.
Vlad leading us down the broad east ridge
Descending the typical scree slopes into the “upper draw”
Sarah plunging down with Rex Peak behind
Sarah descending that steep zone with the south peak behind
We took another long break at the gear cache
Sarah starting to descend Brett Creek valley
Sarah with the steep slopes that we just descended
Vlad and Sarah with Shulaps Peak behind
As you can see, this valley was scenic and easy
Water sources were plenty. I brought too much water on this trip…
Plodding through a field of high grass
Whacking through fall colours was kind of cool though.
Almost back to Shulaps Traverse trail
Vlad then setting a slow but steady pace down the trail
Sarah hopping across Brett Creek
The typical scenery on the trail.
The descent was a dusty fest thank to the month-long dryness
Me plodding down the monotonous trail.
Back to Sarah’s truck. We parked at the highest possible spot
Carpenter Lake has some beautiful colours
Carpenter Lake scenery from the drive-home