With the forecast calling for glorious weather throughout the lower mainland and sea-to-sky corridor, I was prepped and ready to spend my first weekend of rock season pulling on Squamish granite. A corked tendon the week before this amazing weekend-to-be blew that plan apart, and sent me into planning mode for my plan A* (A*, because it was not a plan B, rather it had lost a coin toss): skiing!
As per usual, the weekend plan came together on the late Friday evening. Erica and I as well as buddies Phil and Katherine would be heading up to Garibaldi Provincial Park via Elfin Lakes to make an attempt on Mount Garibaldi. Also in the Park at the time were a number of other friends of ours, who were trying face and ridge routes on Mount Atwell.
A gloriously sunny day of skiing ensued. Amidst laughter and gummy bears, impressive racoon-style funburns (a sunburn you don’t notice due to the excess enjoyment had while you are being barbecued) were had. After a pleasant skin with amazing views we reached the camp our compatriots had set up below the East Face of Mount Atwell. Feeling social, we decided to stop there, enjoying the views out towards Mamquam and over Ring Creek as the sun set. After a day of scorching in the sun, we were all a little shocked by how chilly the night became as a breeze picked up.
The next day we started before sunrise. Reaching the bottom of the summit cone of Garibaldi we were surprised to find a cornice on one side and a steep and sun-exposed slope on the other left us with only a rime-crusted face of friable rock as our summit route. Looking up a narrow corridor of pasted on snow, I roped up and gathered our pickets. As I proceeded to swim up the narrow alley between large outcroppings, I felt a little like a salmon swimming upstream. My feet skittered on frozen gravel as I tried to find picket placements on the unprotect-able slope. Half-way up, having placed on useless picket, I decided to down climb. Frustrating as it was to be so close, and despite the fact that I think we could all have soloed it, I think it was the right choice. With no good picket placements descending would have been very challenging, and with such poor snow, the chance of an accidental fall was much higher.
Feeling a bit forlorn we turned and looked at Dalton Dome. Deciding that any summit was better than none and keen to get a little higher we decided to drop our packs and skin up. Noticing some large cracks on the corniced north ridge, I took a closer ridge. After only a few pole-whacks, I discovered that these cracks were in fact the beginnings of huge crevasses where the cornice was preparing to break off. What began as a crack not more than 8-10 inches wide went way down and broadened into a large chamber. Big enough to have a raging party inside, we joked.
On the summit of Dalton Dome after a short boot-pack, we basked in views over the Park and back towards Howe Sound, Squamish and Atwell.