March 26, 2016
Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC
Glacier Pikes is a twin-summit volcanic feature in the heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park. It’s not a particularly big mountain by any mean especially when comparing with its neighbours (Mt. Garibaldi, The Sphinx, etc.), but does appear “interesting” (like a pair of rabbit ears) when viewing from Garibaldi Lake. Folks doing the classic Garibaldi Neve ski traverse would go right by its base, but not many people actually bother to ascend the peak.
But skipping this peak wouldn’t be an option for peak-baggers like Alex, Michelle and myself, and instead of combing with the Neve traverse, this was done as the 3rd objective of a pure peak-bagging trip, after successfully ascending and skiing the nearby Deception Peak and then The Sphinx in the previous day.
Given the somewhat unstable weather forecast we opted to start very early. A 5:30 am wake-up call was in the order but forcing the temptation of being lazy was quite a tough work in the morning. Thankfully Alex was super motivated and eventually dragged us out of the camp when it’s just bright enough to not use head-lamps. Alex did most, if not all of the trail-breaking and I have to say that as we slowly approaching the Pikes they started to appear more and more impressive than what I was expecting.
The left (east) pike was the true summit and we aimed for its south-east ridge. There’s a bit of steep skinning to gain the ridge and once cresting the ridge top there’s a big WOW moment waiting as the views were simply amazing in the sunrise hour. The final 20 m to the summit was a boot-pack up a rocky ridge with a little bit of exposure.
After spending some time soaking in the views we had to come in realize there’s still a long way back home. Skiing down from the ridge back to camp was fast and furious in the morning powder. Another half an hour was spent packing up and we all enjoyed another great run down Sentinel Glacier, although the last part was kinda icy and crusty at places. The following 1.5 hours or so was a tedious plod across Garibaldi Lake that nobody was looking forward to. The skin tracks were still icy so Alex and I opted to push across without skins which proved to be a faster way. We took a lengthy break on the other side before resuming the return.
From here we had to put the skins back on and the trail near Lesser Garibaldi was just as shitty as I thought it’d be. We stayed on the summer trail and it traversed around some very steep forested section with lots of micro up-and-downs. It also got fairly icy so that near the outlet of Lesser Garibaldi I had to remove my skis and boot-pack. I took a short-cut down the steep forest aiming for the lower lakeshore but immediately sank to my waist in the isothermal crap. I wallowed through nonetheless (downhill anyway) and got my boots completely soaked.
And then it’s time to think about the Barrier. Alex had the idea to ski the Barrier which I didn’t know what to expect. Michelle warned me that it’s a pretty bad and committing line but I managed to ignore her warning, so down the Barrier we went. Right away I realized that it’s indeed pretty difficult with some huge run-outs and lots of steeps. The snow was also in a shitty icy and crusty condition with lots of avalanche debris embedded. Michelle and I had to remove our skis for once again and down-climb facing inwards for one roll, but the rest of the skiing down into the valley wasn’t actually that bad (as the sun was slowly softening up the surface). Lower down we followed a set of ski tracks from likely the previously day and had no further issue to rejoin the main Garibaldi Lake trail at kilometer 2.5, and then it’s the final boot slog back to the car.
Overall this was a very successful and productive weekend bagging three somewhat less often ascended peaks behind Garibaldi Lake. This is one amazing area that I’m never get tired of the views. Speaking this objective, the Glacier Pikes is definitely more than what we originally thought. It’s quite a good-looking peak and certainly not just a bump as appeared on the satellite images. The summit also involves a bit of scrambling and offers one of the best view of the Mt. Garibaldi massif. And now with a high pressure system building up towards the beginning of the following week you know that something GRAND was starting to get tossed around…