November 9, 2015
Gin Peak is the unofficial name of the small peak immediately on the south side of Rainbow Lake. It’s a fairly popular objective for skiers and snowmobilers approaching from Whistler Olympic Park while I ascended it as a bonus objective after finishing the nearby Rainbow Mountain. The approach I used was from Alta Lake Road along 21 Mile Creek (the traditional way to approach Rainbow Mountain).
From camp it appeared to be nothing more than a few hours’ plod via the obvious gully although I was expecting fair amount of post-holing. The snowpack also didn’t appear to be thick enough to cover the boulder fields. I initially ascended the connecting ridge on the climber’s right side (Hanging Lake side), and once there’s enough snow to at least partially cover the boulders I moved into the gully and grinded my way to what appeared like a high col. It turned out to be a large plateau area with the true summit on my left.
The plod to the true summit along the final ridge was longer than appeared. I had to ascend a few steep bushy steps and the final summit block was steep from all sides. I ended up traversing around it for almost 360 degrees before deciding on a bushy route. I think what’s underneath were large boulders so ascending those steep and loose was fairly strenuous. The view from the summit was outstanding though so it’s well worth the effort.
Coming down the summit block I just plunged/slid down a steeper line and it worked out nicely. I thought about exploring the plateau area for a bit but decided against it knowing I still had a long way to go as I wasn’t planning on staying another night. Retracing my tracks went fast and furious and I was back in camp in no time.
After a long break it’s time to break camp and pack up. I spent some time taking pictures at Rainbow Lake as it’s right at sunset, but after that the true slog began – the final 7.7 km plod back to the parking lot. The deep freeze from the previous night along with the colder temperature had made this trail extremely slippery which added to the “fun” factor… The creek crossing was proved to be particularly fun as those boulders that I used to hop across on the way in were all coated by a layer of verglass… After trying a few different ways I ended up having to take the boots off and ford the freezing water bare feet. It was very miserable… Back to the plod. I knew I was doing good on time but still, it felt like forever, and once eventually getting back to the logging road section there’s still a few clicks to cover (and a LOT of downhill too which was hard on the knees).
I eventually got back to the parking lot at roughly 6 pm and 2 hours later I was back home which concluded an excellent trip in the mountains for once again. Not sure if I’d highly recommend Rainbow Mountain + Gin Peak for average snowshoeers as it’s a arduous work-out but the view is excellent if you have clear weather.