Glacier Pikes

March 26, 2016

2145m

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.

Ascent route for Deception, Sphinx and Glacier Pikes

Ascent route for Deception, Sphinx and Glacier Pikes. GPX DL

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.

Skinning up in the morning with Deception Peak and The Sphinx behind

Skinning up in the morning with Deception Peak and The Sphinx behind

Alex leading the way approaching the East Pike

Alex leading the way approaching the East Pike

The lower West Pike is actually more impressive from this angle.

The lower West Pike is actually more impressive from this angle.

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.

It's sunrise time!!

It’s sunrise time!!

Alex gaining the ridge

Alex gaining the ridge

Michelle following up Sentinel Glacier

Michelle following up Sentinel Glacier

A zoomed-in view towards Mamquam Icefield and Mamquam Mountain

A zoomed-in view towards Mamquam Icefield and Mamquam Mountain

Our first view of Mt. Garibaldi showing its tip catching some sunbeam

Our first view of Mt. Garibaldi showing its tip catching some sunbeam

Looking west towards the rugged Tantalus Range

Looking west towards the rugged Tantalus Range

Here's the summit of Glacier Pikes. Boot-packing required

Here’s the summit of Glacier Pikes. Boot-packing required

From the summit, looking down over the lower West Pike towards Garibaldi Lake

From the summit, looking down over the lower West Pike towards Garibaldi Lake

Mt. Garibaldi

Mt. Garibaldi

The Sphinx which we bagged the day before

The Sphinx which we bagged the day before

Michelle approaching the summit

Michelle approaching the summit

A zoomed-in view of the NE Face of Mt. Garibaldi - the route that we climbed in the previous trip

A zoomed-in view of the NE Face of Mt. Garibaldi – the route that we climbed in the previous trip

One last view of Mt. Garibaldi massif along with Warren Glacier

One last view of Mt. Garibaldi massif along with Warren Glacier

The Table in the foreground

The Table in the foreground

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.

Alex returning along the summit ridge

Alex returning along the summit ridge

Back to camp after a very enjoyable run down Sentinel Glacier

Back to camp after a very enjoyable run down Sentinel Glacier

Passing a massive crevasse

Passing a massive crevasse

The lower Sentinel Glacier down from our camp

The lower Sentinel Glacier down from our camp

Getting crusty at places... Not the greatest skiing.

Getting crusty at places… Not the greatest skiing.

The exit of Sentinel Glacier into Sentinel Bay

The exit of Sentinel Glacier into Sentinel Bay

A zoomed-in view of The Black Tusk

A zoomed-in view of The Black Tusk

Plodding across Garibaldi Lake...

Plodding across Garibaldi Lake…

The long way across... You can see the twin summits of Glacier Pikes in the background

The long way across… You can see the twin summits of Glacier Pikes in the background

Finally finishing the lake plod. This is the classic tourist's view of Garibaldi Lake along with Sphinx Glacier

Finally finishing the lake plod. This is the classic tourist’s view of Garibaldi Lake along with Sphinx Glacier

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.

Here's the mess around Lesser Garibaldi. The summer trail goes way up high on climber's left in the woods

Here’s the mess around Lesser Garibaldi. The summer trail goes way up high on climber’s left in the woods

Michelle boot-packing down to the lake shore

Michelle boot-packing down to the lake shore

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.

Ready to ski the Barrier!

Ready to ski the Barrier!

Apparently this is quite a big route

Apparently this is quite a big route

Alex leading the way down as he's done this exit a few weeks ago

Alex leading the way down as he’s done this exit a few weeks ago

Not the easiest skiing for sure...

Not the easiest skiing for sure…

Michelle making some turns

Michelle making some turns

Me down into the valley floor. Photo by Alex

Me down into the valley floor. Photo by Alex

Very marginal skiing down along the creek

Very marginal skiing down along the creek

This is our last obstacle before rejoining the trail.

This is our last obstacle before rejoining the trail.

Me hopping over the log. Photo by Alex

Me hopping over the log. Photo by Alex

The final 2.5-km plod back to car....

The final 2.5-km plod back to 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…

 

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