Panorama Ridge (Garibaldi)

November 8, 2020


Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC

Not to be confused with the Kane’s scramble Panorama Ridge near Moraine Lake, Alberta, this one locates right next to Garibaldi Lake of British Columbia. I had been aware of this scenic spot since 2009 when I just started hiking in Grade 10, but never actually ended up doing it. Now in 2020 I have already bagged over 1000 peaks but still hadn’t done Panorama Ridge and none of my friends would actually believe that. This ridge had also become one of the hottest spots on social media among the local areas in the recent few years. One reason why I waited for so long was because I’d already known what exactly the views would be, based on the hundreds of Instagram feeds I’ve seen. I also knew that I likely would come up here for one time only thank to the long ass approach, so I needed bluebird weather and the lake being not frozen. My original plan was to come up here with some Instagram girls so that I could get some sexy photos out of it, but I really didn’t care. When Winnie mentioned she didn’t mind to repeat Panorama Ridge with me I was instantly game. For the two of us it made more sense to also hike the nearby Gentian Peak.

We chose the Helm Creek approach from Cheakamus Lake parking lot because that side was marginally shorter especially when Gentian Peak’s also on the agenda. The term “short” was relative as the round trip distance still ended up clocking at 33 km… We decided to ascend Gentian Peak first as that’s the primary objective, and also because the view from Panorama Ridge would be better in afternoon/evening than morning.

Gentian Peak and Panorama Ridge via Helm Creek. GPX DL

From the lowest point between Gentian Peak and Panorama Ridge we hopped across a frozen tarn’s outflow then traversed around a minor bump with some minor bushwhacking. We could have just plodded up and over the bump but I felt particularly lazy on this day and wanted to do the least amount of work. The ascent of Panorama Ridge via the broad NE Ridge was almost a no-brainer. The snowshoes weren’t needed and stayed in our packs for the entire ascent, while crampons were quite useful to gain traction on the icy slopes. By the time we reached the summit we realized that the views were nowhere as impressive as what I remembered from the Instagram feeds, so we soon realized that most hikers who claimed this hike did not actually reach the true summit.

Panorama Ridge seen while descending Gentian Peak

A frozen tarn at Panorama/Gentian col

This was the only short bits of bushwhacking of the whole day

An obligatory shot of The Black Tusk

As you can see, the slope was very icy

Winnie ascending the NE Ridge of Panorama Ridge on crampons

Winnie now plodding towards the true summit

Garibaldi Lake and Mt. Garibaldi

Partial Summit Panorama from Panorama Ridge. Click to view large size.

Partial Summit Panorama from Panorama Ridge. Click to view large size.

Hikers on the hiker’s summit with Pelion Mountain behind

A zoomed-in view of Castle Towers Mountain

The Sphinx looks very attractive

Me on the summit of Panorama Ridge

Knowing a minor bump down the ridge likely offered better views we didn’t even bother to take a break on the true summit. The traverse to that viewpoint took about 10 minutes. We had seen probably close to 20 hikers descending, ascending or hanging out on the “summit” but we were the only pair who actually went further to tag the true summit. The view was indeed very good but not as impressive as I was hoping for, probably because I’d already known this view before even coming up here.

Winnie now plodding towards the instagram summit…

The last push before joining the hordes

Another photo of Garibaldi Lake and Mt. Garibaldi

Panorama view from this hotspot viewpoint. Click to view large size.

Me celebrating our “success”…

Guard Mountain is a rather tough summit in this region

Mt. Garibaldi looms behind The Table

Winnie soaking in the views

Winnie and I on the hiker’s summit of Panorama Ridge

Winnie taking in some views

Me doing my obligatory Instagram thing… Photo by Winnie M.

Once having enough photos we joined the hordes descending. None of us did much research about the route so we just followed the most obvious boot path. About 200 vertical meters down we took off the crampons and just played the balancing game. The trail was no longer steep but slippery as fuck including several long stretches of pure ice, but I did mange to not take a single fall. The trail did an unnecessarily long detour towards Helm Pass and Black Tusk Lake. I wished I checked the maps earlier so that we could just take as short-cut shaving at least a kilometer off the plod. While plodding across Cinder Flats we faced a weird detour to bypass a creek crossing. I decided to bid my fate and went for a short-cut to directly cross the creek on ice that was clearly not thick enough… With careful probing I did manage to not wet my feet but I also discovered quite a few holes and broke several large pieces of the ice, so not recommended.. The reward was that I got to the opposite side of this creek a few minutes faster than Winnie… The rest of the descent was a pure ass slog and I do not see a point to document that in depth. We also had to use head-lamps in the final hour and our round trip time was about 10.5 hours.

Winnie starting the long ass descent now

Cinder Flats and Empetrum Peak in foreground

The Black Tusk rises behind Black Tusk Lake

The north slopes of Panorama Ridge do offer some nice skiing

As you can see, the trail was very icy

Down to Black Tusk Lake now

Ahead’s a large patch of ice…

Winnie demonstrating her technique to cross this ice patch

Down to the shore of Helm Lake now

Looking back after crossing this sketchy icy creek…

Other hikers taking a much-preferred and safer route around the creek

We had brought some luxurious gears for car-camping including my old -18 degrees MEC bag and a -32 degrees Western Mountaineering Puma GWS, but this trip ended up being at least two or three hours shorter than anticipated. We were hoping to do some rock climbing on Monday morning but the forecast had downgraded. I was also not very tired so we just drove home…