Powder Mountain

April 9, 2016

2347m

Whistler / Powdercap Icefield, BC

The glaciated Powder Mountain is a mere glorified “snow dome” west of Callaghan Valley near Whistler. In many ways it’s similar to the real Snow Dome on the Columbia Icefield but this one is a bit smaller in nature and a lot less intimidating speaking the crevasse hazard, though a bit more remote I’d say. Powder Mountain is often tagged on snowmobiles (as we discovered), or as part of the Powdercap Traverse, but Alex and I opted to ascend it as a side-trip on top of our primary objectives – Mt. Fee North Tower and Mt. Cayley.

Ascent route for Mt. Fee, Powder Mountain and Mt. Cayley

Ascent route for Mt. Fee, Powder Mountain and Mt. Cayley. GPX DL

Earlier on Day 1 we’d approached from Brandywine FSR, made a sketchy ascent of Mt. Fee North Tower and now back to where we ditched overnight gears it’s time to re-pack and plod towards our second objective. For this section we’d follow the main branch of the snowmobile highway, also the Powdercap ski traverse route. We gained another bench on the west side of Brandywine Mountain and followed it to a low saddle and the next section was an uninspiring 300-m elevation loss. The skiing was pretty decent though but the elevation re-gain was not so much.

On the broad west shoulder of Brandywine Mountain. Looking towards Cayley massif

On the broad west shoulder of Brandywine Mountain. Looking towards Cayley massif

One of the many snowmobiles with the dome shaped Powder Mountain behind

One of the many snowmobiles with the dome shaped Powder Mountain behind

Alex skiing down

Alex skiing down

Down into the drainage

Down into the drainage

The plod up the glacier felt like forever and Mt. Cayley just never seemed to get any closer, but with some good attitude it eventually did get closer… The highway of snowmobile tracks led us up and through a heavily crevassed “headwall” section and after that we were right underneath Mt. Cayley’s route and called it quit. No more heavy packs and it’s time to set up camp. About 1 hour later everything was done and time to put ski boots on again (painful). Fighting the temptation of being lazy was difficult but we did manage to get going.

Skinning plod up the glacier. Mt. Cayley behind

Skinning plod up the glacier. Mt. Cayley behind

A zoomed-in view of the North Tower of Mt. Fee

A zoomed-in view of the North Tower of Mt. Fee

Crevasse field!

Crevasse field!

Alex skinning up through the crevasse area

Alex skinning up through the crevasse area

Our camp above the headwall

Our camp above the headwall

The snowmobile tracks continued all the way up the Icefield and towards every direction. The main branch followed the most obvious route up to the summit of Powder Mountain so there’s no route-finding for us whatsoever. It’s a simple matter of putting one foot in front of another, albeit a very long and tedious process. The summit actually seemed to “fall behind” and that moment (skinning plod up a snowmobile highway up a rounded dome of snow) reminded me greatly the plod up the actual Snow Dome last year… This time we didn’t bother to wonder around on the summit and instead we took a lengthy break regathering some strength.

Going upwards again...

Going upwards again…

This is a subpeak of Mt. Cayley

This is a subpeak of Mt. Cayley

The summit of Mt. Cayley with its N. Ridge on right

The summit of Mt. Cayley with its N. Ridge on right

The plod up Powder Mountain is as simple as it looks here...

The plod up Powder Mountain is as simple as it looks here…

Mt. Cayley

Mt. Cayley

Mt. Garibaldi rises behind Mt. Fee

Mt. Garibaldi rises behind Mt. Fee

Alex approaching the summit

Alex approaching the summit

Castle Towers et al. behind

Castle Towers et al. behind

The striking Mt. Fee

The striking Mt. Fee

Mt. Garibaldi massif

Mt. Garibaldi massif

Wedge Mountain

Wedge Mountain

Mt. Weart

Mt. Weart

Looking north over Les Gendarmes towards the Pemberton Icefield

Looking north over Les Gendarmes towards the Pemberton Icefield

Looking over Sootip Peak (foreground) towards the Place Glacier Group

Looking over Sootip Peak (foreground) towards the Place Glacier Group

Me on the summit of Powder Mountain

Me on the summit of Powder Mountain

Now it’s time to ski back to camp. The sun was setting but the snow was still in a good shape (for most of the descent anyway). We flee down the gentle slopes in no time but once entering the shaded part underneath Mt. Cayley the surface had re-freeze a bit and become crusty. We snow-powed the rest of the way back.

One last look at Mt. Cayley

One last look at Mt. Cayley

Evening alpenglow on Castle Towers across the Sea-to-Sky valley

Evening alpenglow on Castle Towers across the Sea-to-Sky valley

Evening glow on Brandywine Mountain

Evening glow on Brandywine Mountain

And, evening glow on Mt. Fee

And, evening glow on Mt. Fee

We cooked some dinner and went to bed and that’s it about our first day – 15 hours long. I was not keen to wake up early at all but Alex still managed to drag me up at 3:30 am, and now it’s time to climb Mt. Cayley

Advertisements