October 27, 2015
With a “Pineapple Express” approaching towards this weekend Simon and I decided to head out on Tuesday taking advantage of possibly the last day of this warm fall season. A low-elevation, forested summit north of Whistler unofficially named Cougar Mountain was brought to the discussion as we weren’t too keen on anything major. Its proximity to some of the bigger peaks nearby would guarantee some great views.
This was rather a lazy day out but to avoid the horrible rush-hour traffic we still decided to head out early by 6:30 am from West Vancouver. In less than 2 hours we made to Whistler and the trail-head was right by the “welcome post” north of the village (1-2 km before Wedgemount Lake turn-off). There’s very minimal information about this trail other than a few posts on ClubTread, but apparently it was in a great shape. Following the flaggings (and tire tracks from dirt bikes) we gained elevation fairly quickly through the forest. The canopy wasn’t nearly as thick as I was expecting and we got a few great viewpoints along the way.
As we approaching the twin summits we slowly lost the trail (and the flaggings). The true summit was on our right (East) but micro-terrain brought us to the left one first (West). Visually it’s difficult to tell which was the higher one so we opted to ascend both (plus we had lots of time to kill). We picked a direct line up a granite bluff with a few tricky moves. The views were awesome especially towards Rainbow Mountain but there’s a bone-chilly breeze blowing from the north. Thankfully there’s enough sheltered place to get out of that wind.
After spending enough time on the west summit we turned our attention to the true one. The terrain between the two summits were bluffy and offered some interesting route-finding and scrambling. Following the terrain we descended the north side of the west summit to the col and then ascended the north side of the east peak. There were a little bit of bushwhacking along the way along with a few moderate scrambling sections. I also ended up having to backtrack a bit to find a reasonable way. There’re a few high points on this summit plateau and we ascended them all just to be sure. We again, spent a long time killing time but the views weren’t as good as the west summit.
Eventually it’s the time to head down. Instead of retracing our ascent route which was way too circumventing we opted to explore a direct route off the true peak. In short time our route was blocked by a vertical cliff but thankfully we came prepared with a 30-meter scrambling rope. A dead tree was used as an anchor and after hand-lining/rappelling down this band we resumed the descent. There’s another cliff but we were able to find a scramble route by traversing to down-climber’s right. Into the gully between the two summits we had to deal with some brief, but heavy bushwhacking before we were able to climb out of this gully to join the trail. The rest of this hike-out was uneventful.
As usual for a weekday trip avoiding Vancouver’s evening rush hour was crucial so we still had to kill some time. We went to Squamish’s MacDonalds for some food before stopping by Porteau Cove for some pictures.
Overall this is one of those trips that turned out to be “more than expected”. Despite its lowly status, the summit offers incredible views. The hike itself was not short (since you start from valley floor) and then near the summit there’s plenty opportunity to pick your own route. A good way to wrap-up this amazing October.