December 27, 2015
Pemberton / Lillooet Lake Road, BC
I don’t think this little summit north of the Lizzie Creek Cabin attracts much attention from hikers/skiers but it served well as a bad-weather objective for Alex, Ben, Alan and myself on the Day 3 of our Christmas – New Year ski trip. We were tired from the arduous approach and the ascent of Long Peak on the previous two days so slept in. The weather was actually better than forecasted with only some light flurries. The visibility was actually pretty decent so we increased our ambition from the lowly Tarn Peak to Whisky Peak. We had previously studied the few possible approach options and opted for the longer (but gentler) one vis White Lupine Ridge.
Ben and Alex had done this approach to the nearby Anemone Peak and Tabletop Mountain two years ago around the same time in bad weather so they knew exactly where to go. We more-or-less followed the Arrowhead Lake’s outflow drainage but ascended more to the left upon reaching an open boulder field. We came around the left side of Arrowhead Lake and then ascended through a gully feature. Just before reaching Heart Lake we took a sharp turn towards climber’s left and aimed for the upper bench below Anemone Peak. Unfortunately for us the weather had gone worse during the day and the light was very flat making some interesting skinning not knowing how steep the terrain was… A steep gully was ascended to break the immediate cliff in front of us, and then we traversed leftwards along the upper bench to the highpoint on White Lupine Ridge (in a blowing blizzard).
From the map it appeared to be mostly gentle downhill along White Lupine Ridge so we de-skin’d and ski’d down. Other than some minor up-and-downs it was mostly cruise sailing. Ben and Alex led the way which greatly helped me making out the slope angle in this flat light condition, and then it came that steep north facing slope just before dropping to White Lupine/Whisky col. It “felt” super steep and wind-loaded, but with Alex dropping in first we all got down with no mishap. The skiing was pretty difficult and I took a face plant, unfortunately…
And then it’s finally the time to ascend the actual Whisky Peak. A small bump surprised us with more rolling terrain but after that it was entirely uphill travel. We stayed mostly on the open terrain in the sparsely treed forest and the summit was reached in short time. Of course the visibility was zero but it’s time to enjoy some skiing…
Skiing down the slopes on Whisky Peak was quite fun and in not time we were back to the col and then it’s time to slog back up White Lupine Ridge. Now we were skinning up that big slope and I greatly appreciated how steep it actually was. About 2/3 of the way up I ended up taking the skis off and boot-pack up. The other guys managed to skin entirely up but not without some tight switchbacks and interesting kick-turns. I just found it’s easier to boot-pack straight up a slope that steep.. We followed White Lupine Ridge upwards but soon deviated from the ridge crest as we’d made the decision to ski down the huge south face directly back to the cabin. The weather improved and we all enjoyed the longest, and the best run in this trip. Looking back I couldn’t believe I actually ski’d that face. But well, I think with all the trips I did in this month I’m slowly getting better at skiing…
This was a fairly short day from the cabin, but wasn’t quite as easy as expected. There’s still massive terrain involved and lots of up-and-downs. The weather for the next day was supposed to be clearing up and we decided on Shields Peak, and en route we’d bag Tarn Peak first. (It’s right there, so why not)..