Cinder Cone

November 3, 2015

1910m

Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC

Cinder Cone is a small dead volcano near Helm Pass at the heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park. It’s smaller than any other mountain nearby but does offer some great views. The pyroclastic rocks are super prone to erosion and in summer time there’ll be tedious slog on treadmill scree no matter what route you take, so the best time to ascend is in winter when covered by snow. I did it in early November combing with the nearby Empetrum Peak when the snow was just deep enough for snowshoeing. Later in the season those slopes would offer some great skiing too.

Ascent route for Empetrum Peak and Cinder Cone

Ascent route for Empetrum Peak and Cinder Cone. GPX DL

Since I approached via Helm Creek trail from Cheakamus Lake side I decided to attack its nearby NW slopes – a more direct, but much steeper route than the normal SW side. The plod was longer than appeared but the low Sun angle had made some interesting lightings on the snow ribs. There’s one flat plateau between the two major rises then I was on the true summit (the highest point of the crater).

Cinder Cone seen from Cinder Flats

Cinder Cone seen from Cinder Flats

At the base of the slopes

At the base of the slopes

The slopes that I gonna ascend

The slopes that I gonna ascend

The low sun angle

The low sun angle

Gorgeous snow formation

Gorgeous snow formation

My reflection on the snow ribs

My reflection on the snow ribs

Looking down at my tracks

Looking down at my tracks

Looking back towards Cinder Flats

Looking back towards Cinder Flats

Above the second rise

Above the second rise

Almost at the summit, looking back towards Empetrum Peak

Almost at the summit, looking back towards Empetrum Peak

The Black Tusk

The Black Tusk

Panorama of the summit crater. Click to view large size.

Panorama of the summit crater. Click to view large size.

More than 6 years ago I hiked Opal Cone by Diamond Head area and these two have quite a few similarities. The best way to explore a volcano was to circumvent the summit crater and I’m super glad I did so for both ‘Cones’. I opted to traverse clockwise and from the far side I got some exceptional views of the Helm Glacier. That brought back some memories from my 1-day Castle Towers ascent about half a dozen weeks ago.

Starting to traverse the crater

Starting to traverse the crater

Looking back

Looking back

Helm Ridge/Helm Peak

Helm Ridge/Helm Peak

A zoomed-in view of Helm Peak

A zoomed-in view of Helm Peak

The toe of Helm Glacier and a frozen glacial lake

The toe of Helm Glacier and a frozen glacial lake

There're quite a few crevasses above the headwall on Helm Glacier

There’re quite a few crevasses above the headwall on Helm Glacier

Gentian Peak

Gentian Peak

The Black Tusk and the summit crater

The Black Tusk and the summit crater

Helm Glacier on the show

Helm Glacier on the show

Another frozen tarn

Another frozen tarn

A few more crevasses on Helm Glacier

A few more crevasses on Helm Glacier

Me on Cinder Cone

Me on Cinder Cone

Another picture of me on Cinder Cone

Another picture of me on Cinder Cone

Castle Towers that I ascended in September

Castle Towers that I ascended in September

The upper stretch of Helm Glacier. Castle Towers looms behind

The upper stretch of Helm Glacier. Castle Towers looms behind

The crater

The crater

Whistler Mountain

Whistler Mountain

Sun is getting low

Sun is getting low

Panorama of Helm Glacier and surroundings. Click to view large size.

Panorama of Helm Glacier and surroundings. Click to view large size.

Panorama of the summit crater. Click to view large size.

Panorama of the summit crater. Click to view large size.

Eventually it’s the time to head home as the Sun was getting low. I easily plunged-step down the soft powder beside by uptracks and in no time I was back to the Helm Creek trail. From now on it’s a pure slog to get back to the parking lot. Just before it’s time to take the snowshoes off I had to pull the headlamp out. Then ‘shoes strapped on my pack, down the switchbacks, across the Cheakamus River and finally the uphill plod.

Sun beam

Sun beam

Time to head down. Nice to soft powder..

Time to head down. Nice to soft powder..

Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain

It's clearing to the north. Ipsoot Mountain on left

It’s clearing to the north. Ipsoot Mountain on left

The upper rise and my tracks

The upper rise and my tracks

The last bit of sunlight

The last bit of sunlight

Looking back up my tracks

Looking back up my tracks

Dusk

Dusk

One last view from the cone

One last view from the cone

Looking back towards Helm Pass (R)

Looking back towards Helm Pass (R)

Whistler Mountain

Whistler Mountain

Wedge Mountain looms behind

Wedge Mountain looms behind

Evening glow on Whistler Mountain and part of the Fitzsimmons Range

Evening glow on Whistler Mountain and part of the Fitzsimmons Range

Into the forest...

Into the forest…

Tired but satisfied. The Cheakamus River FSR was heavily pot-holed and I carefully negotiated my way back to Sea-to-Sky Highway and in less than 2 hours I was back home. Overall I’d highly recommend both Empetrum Peak and Cinder Cone to pretty much anybody looking for some great views. Garibaldi Park never fails to amaze me and I’ll be back here sooner than later for some of the other objectives.