Mount Sedgwick

June 28, 2020


Squamish, BC

Mt. Sedgwick is not a particularly tall summit by SW BC standard but is yet another peak that everyone talks about in the small climbing/peak-bagging community. The triangular-shaped SE Face of this peak provides a stunning backdrop for drivers going up the Sea to Sky Highway. The peak is a non-technical ascent by pretty much any route, but the access is challenging. In the old days when Woodfibre Mill ferry was still available, this peak was done a bit more often via the south ridge from Henriette Lake. Even back in the days this was still a sea-level-up ascent that normally took two or three days to complete. The access had significantly worsened in the past decade due to the decommission of the ferry and the logging roads on the far side of Howe Sound had become extremely overgrown. This peak had been done last year via the same entry point but the trip sounded like two days of extreme level of sufferfest.

There are a few alternative approach options and one is from Lake Lovely Water by traversing around Mt. Conybeare. This traverse had been done in either direction but again, the access to Lake Lovely Water had its own challenges such as a Tyrolean traverse across Squamish River on a cable car. The third option that I discovered in the past few years is by a ridge rambling from Mt. Lapworth over the summit of Mt. Conybeare. I wasn’t entirely sure if this would be a viable option but by just looking at the topo maps and satellite images I also didn’t see any reason that this route wouldn’t go. The approach to Mt. Lapworth would still require a crossing of Squamish River as well as a sea-level-up ascent. As I stated before, I’m not someone that particularly likes the access challenge even though I love doing researches, so this trip was never high on my list, until this spring when Alex suggested to fly into the area to bag Mt. Conybeare, Mt. Murchison and Mt. Lapworth. I figured if I flew into this area I’d like to tag Mt. Sedgwick as well and the plan eventually jacked up to a 5-peak traverse from Mt. Lapworth all the way to Mt. Roderick. To accomplish this plan in a single day we flew to the summit of Mt. Lapworth, then ascended the north ridge of Mt. Murchison, and then the south face couloir of Mt. Conybeare. Marius had called it a day before Mt. Conybeare but Alex, Vlad and I insisted to carry on.

The traverse from Lapworth to Roderick. GPX DL

The lowest point of this trip was Conybeare/Sedgwick col and from the col onward we had to deal with a bit of bushwhacking but the ascent soon became a smooth-going on snow. I thought about following the ridge but one bushy step and buttress forced us to traverse onto the snow slopes to our right. We then easily ascended onto the east ridge at 1550 m where we took a lengthy break. There were several options. My original plan was to ascend the SE Face straight up to the summit but changed my mind upon seeing an obvious line diagonally up traversing the face onto the upper south ridge. This would be longer in distance, but allowed us to ditch our packs once intersecting the south ridge. The ascent/traverse turned out to be a foreshortened slog that took us at least an hour if not longer. To reduce slipping and to make side-hilling easier we opted to wear crampons.

Getting out of the col involved a bit of bushwhacking

Alex with Niobe/Lydia col behind

Traversing the first of the faces.

The south side of Red Tusk group of peaks

Onto the east ridge now, looking across the SE Face of Mt. Sedgwick

Alex and Vlad starting the traverse onto the SE Face

Looking down Mill Creek drainage towards Howe Sound

The SE Face of Mt. Sedgwick is actually pretty mellow

It’s a long ass plod/ascent onto the south ridge shoulder

Mt. Niobe (L) and Mt. Pelops (R) with Mt. Garibaldi/Atwell Peak behind

The massif of Mt. Murchison in the foreground

Mt. Wrottesley in the distance

We took another long break on the upper south ridge ditching everything including our packs. The ascent to the summit still required more than 200 m elevation gain so in retrospect I should have eaten something. We then carried on, plodding up the never-ending snow ridge with fabulous views towards all directions. The summit pyramid had some fun class 2-3 scrambling. At this point I was exhausted for not eating enough but still managed to drag tired self onto the summit. The last register enjoy was indeed Maria Masiar’s in summer 2019 in which they took a boat and started from Woodfibre Mill at sea level.

Looking across the SE Face towards the southern Tantalus Range

Starting the plod up the foreshortened upper South Ridge

This is looking ahead. 200 more meters to gain…

Vlad and Alex plodding up…

More about the plodding on the south ridge of Mt. Sedgwick

Alex and Vlad on the summit now. We even found the register..

Partial Summit Panorama from Mt. Sedgwick. Click to view large size.

Partial Summit Panorama from Mt. Sedgwick. Click to view large size.

Looking south into some remote areas west of Howe Sound

Panther Peak on Sunshine Coast

Dione Glacier and Mt. Dione/Mt. Tantalus

These are some very remote peaks in Sunshine Coast

Mt. Conybeare in the foreground, our previous objective

These are all sub-summits of Tzoonie Mountain

Serratus Mountain with Ionia Mountain in front

Mt. Garibaldi/Atwell Peak behind Mt. Niobe/Mt. Pelops

Howe Sound and the North Shore Mountains

Alpha Mountain behind The Red Tusk

Me on the summit of Mt. Sedgwick

Alex, Vlad and I on the summit of Mt. Sedgwick. It’s Alex’s second time.

Because we weren’t doing particularly good on time we had to keep going. Alex and Vlad down-scrambled the rock while I easily bypassed the rocks by taking the snow route. The plod down the upper south ridge was then super fun and fast. I stuffed a big dinner in after getting back to our backpacks and now with 1.5 hours till the helicopter pick-up time we had to race towards Mt. Roderick to finish our project. The bump immediately to the south of Mt. Sedgwick proved to require some route-finding due to cornices and the descent down its south side had some scrambling as well. Lower down we actually stayed more on the south-west slopes rather than south ridge trying to avoid elevation regain for as much as possible. It turned out that avoiding up-and-downs was impossible and we also had to deal with some bushwhacking and considerable amount of route-finding. Thankfully we had full snow coverage to ease things.

Vlad descending the south ridge

Alex and Vlad descending, showing the massive vertical relief of Coast Mtns.

More ridge rambling.

Alex leading us onto the bump ahead.

Vlad, me and the south ridge of Mt. Sedgwick. Photo by Alex R.

I don’t think this lake has a name, on the west side

Another photo of the Howe Sound

Another photo of Mt. Niobe/Mt. Pelops and Mt. Garibaldi/Atwell Peak

Mt. Roderick in the foreground, our final objective in this trip…

By the time we eventually got down to Sedgwick/Roderick col we had only 20 minutes till the pick-up time, and there’s still over 100 m elevation gain to the summit. Were we tired? Of course yes, but at this point we just had to suck it up and maintain the racing pace