Paranoid Peak

May 8, 2018


Squamish / Mamquam Main FSR, BC

“Paranoid Peak” is a small summit at the headwater of Paranoid Creek immediately south of the much-bigger Mamquam Mountain. This peak is significantly overshadowed by its neighbour and itself offers virtually no mountaineering interest hence sees very few visitor other than the die-hard peak-baggers. Getting to this peak is also a long haul starting from Skookum Dam Road and the most direct assault is via Paranoid Creek valley, and this approach has to be done with abundant snow. Vlad, Lily and I decided to day-trip Paranoid Peak together with the nearby Crawford Peak to make the most use of a spring day. This worked out very much as planned.

Crawford Peak and Paranoid Peak via Paranoid Creek Valley. GPX DL

After completing an ascent of Crawford Peak via its north glacier we came down into the valley between Crawford and Paranoid Peaks. The most direct assault on Paranoid Peak would be the S/SE Ridge but none of us came prepared with an ice axe. The last pitch looked too steep to attempt without an ice axe and the snowpack was getting very slushy in the afternoon sun. An alternative route would be the NW Ridge. It looked gentler but involved more elevation loss/regain. The steep grunt to get onto the NW Ridge proper turned out to be as ugly and uninspiring as it looked.

Snowshoeing up steep slopes to gain the NW Ridge.

Just about the gain the ridge, looking back down into Paranoid Creek valley

Once onto the NW Ridge there’s a drastic change in scenery and motivation. The views opened up suddenly down into the rarely-visited Bucklin Creek valley. The ridge appeared to be aesthetic with a couple steep rises and bumps. I thought we would have to take the snowshoes off at some point but that wasn’t the case. I managed to lead a line zig-zagging up some steep stretches with the snowshoes worn all the way to the summit.

Partway up a steeper roll, looking sideways across

Looking back from partway up the ridge. The terrain’s big around here

The summit is finally in sight.

Summit Panorama from Paranoid Peak. Click to view large size.

A close-up view of Mamquam Mountain

Katzie Mountain massif on Stave Glacier

Bucklin Peak looks very impressive and yet sees very few ascent

Pukulkul Peak with Robertson Peak behind on the right skyline

Old Pierre Mountain

Mt. Judge Howay

Mt. Robie Reid

A wider view towards Judge Howay and Robie Reid, with Cotard Peak in front

The east face of Dreadnought Peak

This is that classic view of Mt. Tantalus and its satellite peaks

The S/SE Ridge offers another route but is considerably steeper

The massif of Crawford Peak which we just bagged a couple hours ago

If you look closely you can see Lily approaching the summit.

A wider view of Bucklin Peak. Everything in this shot is very remote

Our group shot on the summit of Paranoid Peak

Me on the summit of Paranoid Peak

After another long stay on the summit we figured it’s finally the time to head home. Plunging down the NW Ridge and then into the headwater of Paranoid Creek was a fast and fun process. Plodding back across the upper valley was also fast and fun, but then we had to deal with that annoying side-hilling stretch. The softened afternoon snowpack had created some questionable snow bridges that we had to pay extra close attention. The slog back towards “Skullhead Pass” wasn’t too bad as on the return we picked a more efficient line avoiding that steep forest section. Not doing much of a lingering we continued the descent down the maze of logging roads and eventually joined Watersprite Lake’s summer trail. We opted to take that bushwhack short-cut as why not. Despite the dense bush it easily saved us 2 km of distance. The final 3 km plod on Skookum Dam Road was boring but fast.

Leaving this beautiful summit behind

Traversing a steep slope following our ascent tracks.

Vlad and Lily having lots of fun plunging down

This is a steeper roll that needs some creativity to descend

After a while we got down into the valley floor

Vlad and the headwaters of Paranoid Creek valley

Me climbing down a snow bank to get some water. Photo by Vlad

It’s that annoying side-hilling stretch again.

Lily re-ascending steep forest back towards “Skullhead Pass”

Back to the logging roads section

Already rejoined Watersprite Lake’s summer trail

Gradually running out of snow. Time to take the snowshoes off

Finishing the bushwhack short-cut (which saved 2 km distance)

The final 3 km plod on Skookum Dam Road to get back to the truck

Our round trip time was under 12 hours which was faster than expected. Other than the side-hilling stretch beside the raging Paranoid Creek the rest of the route worked out nicely as planned. I have to say this is a fairly quick way to get into the headwaters of Paranoid and Bucklin Creeks but even so, expect a long haul. Timing also plays an important role. Abundant amount of snow is needed but you also want the Skookum Dam Road to be dry for the access. I don’t have chains nor winter tires on the Tacoma so at least for me, driving on snow isn’t an option.