Monday, September 27, 2010

Labor Day 2010 - Springbok Arete Backpacking Trip

Labor Day weekend - the end of a wet and soggy summer - I tried to squeeze in one last mountain trip.  Faced with yet another mediocre forecast, Doug and I played the denial game and convinced ourselves we just had to be there because you never know what you'll get.  30%, 40%, 50% chance of rain.  It's all the same really ... isn't it?  How are we going to know what its like unless we go and find out?     

Ridiculing the stupid weather men, convinced they predict a 30-50% chance of rain every single day just so they're always right, we packed up our gear and headed to the Anderson River range in SW British Columbia.  The objective - Springbok Arete on Les Cornes.  If you're going to fail miserably, you might as well fail on a big objective.

We had heard about a maze of logging roads, a vicious bushwhack, and a long approach, and we had a three day weekend.  We decided to spend a couple nights in the mountains and bivy at the base of the route.  We rolled in on Saturday afternoon and made the approach, which ended up being much easier than we'd read about online.
The Start of the Bushwhack
The updated approach beta you'll find on the web is pretty much right on the money.  The big arrow marks the departure point from the logging road.  From there its basically straight down the hillside, across the creek on one of numerous log crossings and then up the other side through the old-growth.

Looking up the Strip of Old-Growth on the Approach
The forest makes for easy walking.

45-60 Minutes in the Trees
One you pop out of the woods, follow the flagging up through the talus towards the base of Les Cornes.

Emerging from the Trees into the Talus
We found one or two rough bivy sites at the base of the wall and lots of old snow we could melt for water.

Steinbok and a Remnant Snowpatch at the Base of Les Cornes
The rest of the peaks towered over the valley - lots of cool stuff to look at - with Steinbok providing the most impressive profile.  


More Steinbok

Indian Paintbrush
Scoping the Route
The weather held off through Saturday afternoon, and we were hopeful for a good climbing day on Sunday.  Shortly after we crashed out, we started to hear the pitter patter of rain drops on the tent.  Pretty soon, the pitter patter turned into a driving rain storm with blowing wind.  After a couple of hours of fitful sleep, I woke up and the raindrops sounded really big and kind of soft as they fell on the outside walls of the tent.  Undeterred I went back to sleep anticipating the 5 am wake up call.

When the alarm went off, it was dark ... and quiet.  Hmm.  We poked our head out of the tent and found about two inches of fresh snow. 
Morning Snows on Labor Day Weekend 2010
Crappy Weather - Pretty Pictures
Bummer man - spanked again by the weather gods.  Seems like that's the theme for summer 2010.  We packed it up and beat back down through the old-growth and into the brush, only this time it was covered in snow, rain and general wet nastiness.  By the time we got back to the car, we were soaked through to the bone, but thankfully it just isn't that far.  A quick change, and a chugged beer and we were off to the sushi place in Hope for breakfast. 

I wish I could offer insights into the route, but we didn't even get off the ground.  I can say that the approach is pretty much total cake - a little bit of bushwhacking that will leave you soaking wet with a good morning dew, but it shouldn't take more than a couple of hours.   Its possible to bivy at the base of the routes, but the sites aren't really that great.  Next time I'd probably just go car to car, but we enjoyed a night in the mountains nonetheless.  The route looked amazing, and I'm definitely hoping to make it back.  BC rocks!    

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