“Mr H meets Luna, and is singing the song “Ten Degrees and getting colder…”
Mt Snider, BC (6680', p1004')
Via Sowaqua Creek Road and west ridge
Nov 10, 2012
Grant Myers, Luna, Sam Houston, Dave Carpenter, Stefan Feller, Don “PJ” Beavon and Franklin Bradshaw
Weather: cold (23F-14F) mostly sunny
A busy end of week. Take a hike day Thursday to avoid the cold and snow (HA!), a work rest day and to decide a trip. Great option of a local trip, or a trip up north before I was off to a great Caregifted Fundraiser. What a great night with amazing pianist Jonathan Biss and former US Poet Laureate Robert Hass. Seems we got lucky to hear him Jonathan on his day off in an intimate venue. Caregifted is a very worthy project. Up late and by morning I had only 2 ½ hours sleep. I chose the northern adventure. A chance for a hike out of the general area and with Grant and friends. I’d been hoping to get on a trip with him for some time. Or options were Stoneman or Snider. Very little beta for either. I’ve been getting to like the low to no beta peaks. Stoneman looked shorter so we opted for the more prominent and longer Mt Snider –is that better on a shorter day?
Why was I up so late? I was trying to find where the heck these mountains I already agreed to go to were… lol
From Bivouac.com all I could get was, “This peak is located in a pocket of alpine terrain between Sowaqua and Dewdney Creeks, east of Coquihalla River and NW of Tulameen Mountain. Probably one of the most obscure summits in SW BC”
From Club Tread I found two trip reports and these comments:
“One of the attractions of Snider was the lack of information about it.” -now that one perked my interests.
You can find Stefan’s trip report here.
Into the dark and cold
Stefan, Don and I met at 5 headed north. Ever had the feeling of being so tired it hurts? I did. At Grants in B’ham we loaded into two pickups and headed to Hope in the dark. I know I could make several puns on that. This morning is the coldest of the year yet. The thermometer had dropped below freezing. Though the border and west on the Trans Canada, at hope west on the Coquihalla Highway. I’d woken from a brief doze and quickly recognized where we were as we passed the lower cable car tram station of Mt Jarvis. In 4 miles an exit after the “Jessica” bridge at Exit 192. I know in CDN everything is in KM, but given I think in miles, I’ll keep reporting in miles and feet.
A lot of heavy logging material was parked near a road on the south side of the highway (8:05a). The road definitely warrants a high clearance vehicle. I thought one puddle would have required a snorkel if my car had for some reason made it this far. Five miles up the road we parked just shy of a big bend and creek (c1995’, 8:20a). Stepping out of the cab it was could, thermometer showed 23F –brrrr, I guess winter is here. It seemed late to be starting to walk at 8:35 in the morning. We were lucky it wasn’t later, given the long drive.
Steep, Thick and Frozen
A couple hundred yards north of the creek we headed up the steep bank and second growth treed hill. Not bad for brush, mostly the shorter ankle grabbing stuff. Across and small gully depression a ridge formed. The ground started out a little forgiving. The ridge changed to more dense small trees. Mostly wide enough apart to fit between. A little dodging downed trees and thicker patches, not bad, I was feeling the huff with the steep. The slippery of the duff and leaves changed to the über frozen hard and slipper needle duff. Too firm to edge, luckily the small trees gave good vegie handles. As we rose (with breaks) more open space between the trees (c4400’), then onto a talus field below cliffs (c4720’, 1.3m, 10:26a). Only 1.3 miles! Gees, this was a lot of work for the short distance. Okay, it was over 2700 vert gain in under 2 ½ hours of challenging frozen slippery duff. Hmmm, I’m starting to see a pattern on trips that Stefan takes. Luna had been far ahead of us all morning.
Going higher brought us out of the woods to the talus field. Trick was passing the cliffy area. The steepness was one thing, the thin snow layer and slippery frozen ground added to the spice. Without a pause Stefan was up the rock and scaling above to the treed ledge (c4900, 10:43a). I tried a precarious other route to his right. Clinging to small brush and no foot holds worth a bean, I was wishing I’d waited and followed his route. Often my routes get me there, and often I feel sorry for others that may follow. Finally at this point she paused a moment to watch scale the steeper area. We may have given a great show for her amusement. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Less steep terrain with the big difference is the small trees were covered in a few inches of light white fluff, with a tendency to settle down the back of the neck. We were heading east up a wide ridge, gained a high point to drop back down. Steep areas challenging from the thin layer of snow that offered no purchase for the feet. We went right up a lower area to avoid some steep, then another steep vegie belay section. I was not looking forward to the return. Our luck was the terrain slope becoming more gradual, though sometimes the smaller and tighter trees made up for that as you’d brush by them feeling the snow down the neck. Although no sign of humans, there were small tracks in abundance. We were delivered out of the trees through a huckleberry patch on an animal “social” path and dropped splat onto a beautiful flat depressed gully complete with stunning views (c5660’, 2.3m, 11:42a, 3h37m from road). Can you be complete without the views? I can’t.
Into the great wide open
A perfect spot for a pause and a great payoff for the tree fun and frozen duff fun of the morning. All the way up I’d looked for sign of a path and seen none. I wonder how often this peak is summited. Luna left tracks all over in her exploring. Now they were getting deeper as the light snow was 2-3” deep. We had our first view of the summit. When I looked down from it Stefan was gone like the peak magnet he is. I think seeing a summit is like a stimulant to him.
We followed his track up numerous levels of small basins and rises in the now open snow covered “high alpine”. The sun was nice as it came and went. Clouds at time obscured, then exposed bits, pieces and whole mountains. More fascinating than a bluebird day was looking around and seeing a different view each moment. The snow depth didn’t increase greatly as we ascended. Sidehilling was best avoided, unless you liked getting up off your back and climbing back to the boot path. It was obvious the route til we got to an upper basin (c6450, 2.9m, 12:25p).
Once in the upper basin, ahead series of cliffy areas. Looked like we could get up the ridge on the left (west) or go around right (south) and hope for something there. Since Stefan was already at the base of the cliffs and going left to the ridge I went that way. I know what happens when I try a different route (sometimes).
The ridge scrub fir was thick with white til we passed. Then you could see a green line through the white. A little rock outcrop to go up and it was a flat 70-100’ walk to Stefan standing next to a sizable cairn.
Rising to the ridge the temperature was noticeably colder. At first ignored from the thrill of the last steps to the summit cairn (6680’, 3.1m, 12:40p, 4h35m).
As we celebrated the summit, ate and tried to ID the few summits that some knew, the cold crept into my body. I could even tell that Luna was cold. I know it’s cold and a rare summit when PJ doesn’t change shirts.
Mr H came out to join us, eyeing the food and hanging a bit with Luna. He may not like the wet, but the cold didn’t bother him at all. Frozen sandwich and breaking the ice on my water bottle each time I took a drink… my hands in mittens were feeling the cold, but not as much as my ears and nose. How cold is it when your nose starts to hurt (it was below 15F)?
Stefan dug in the cairn and found a register tube with broken ends. Should we leave a register? As I dug for a new one in my pack, Stefan dug a bit more and found a water bottle. In the water bottle a piece of paper and two medals. The note was from a 2008 ascent. There was no indication of why the commemorative WWII medals.
At home I researched and found the back story:
On Club Tread a tr had a note of, “…we thought Snider may be named in memory of a WWII casualty, as are other peaks out in this area.” -hmmm maybe that could explain some questions I’ve had regarding some other local peaks.
More research I discovered that in the 80’s, Neil Granger of the
“Mt. Snider: Cross placed on summit for Lloyd Snider summer 1986. Lloyd's brother Andy who was in his early 60's at the time and had "never done this sort of thing before."
We’d not find all that out till days later warm at home all this history.
For now it was too cold to enjoy just hanging out much longer, even without any breezes. We loaded up and started our trek down (1:16p). The cold pushed us off, but the photo ops kept us hanging another minute or two.
Aiming away from the mountain the view was outstanding. In front of us Mt Jarvis with its visible microwave tower. To the left Tulameen, Davis, Dewdney, Outram and Macloed. So many peaks to come back to explore.
Back down in the snow covered meadows it was sunny and very pleasant. Would have loved to hang around more, but we had about 3 hours til sunset. It’d be nice to be back with minimal dark and cold bushwhacking on this trip.
Always a difference heading down. Slippery and the woods not offering many hints on an easy way down. With the thin snow we could follow our up track. At the steeper duff descent areas (DDAs), I veered south for some broad gulleys. Even found a little hidden pond in the trees (nope, not by walking into it ; -) The tracks ended into thick trees. I looked right and left, nothing but air…
Pushing through the trees and looking down we’d come to Stefan’s up the cliff route. Wheh! Slow and careful, this area would be too easy to slip. I never saw how Luna did the drop. She seemed to be the expert at these. Back into the woods we were in small groups and stopped occasionally to make sure we were all heading the right way. It was deceptive the need to be more skier’s left than we’d thought. Several GPS’s and an occasional yelp kept us on track. In the woods was dark and getting darker. Sunset was at 4:30, it was 4:15 and we were 8-900’ above the road above the key ridge and still spread out. We parked our butts for a brief break. Luna was getting tired from her running around. She must have put in at least three times the distance we’d put in. Her head was down and napping as everyone collected five minutes til sunset.
Much earlier we’d watched the sun lower into the mountains to the west. Now the light was diminishing more than just being in the woods as we made the final descent to the road. The coming darkness made for an interesting last pitch of steep and low ground cover. Still light enough to see, we dropped the last steep dirt bank to the road –all safe and happy (6.1m, 4:58p, 8h53m). It didn’t take long for everyone to deboot and load up.
We’d left town in the dark, started the trek in light to stunning views and a rewarding alpine vista. Returned before dark a peak seldom visited. The adventure of the day had kept me fueled. Now the not sleeping was creeping back. For only a 6 mile hike I was feeling it, I was ready for a nap. Not much to report from there, some uh and ahs looking at the days pictures and PJ discovered his car keys were still in B’ham.
Cold temps, fresh snow… the scenery is changing again and winter is here. Time to get the skis ready.
Aside from views and getting out the best part of the day was getting to meet more great hike partners and share the trip.
And thank you for reading.
Ascent 3.1m, +4725', 4h35m
Descent 3.0m, -4725', 3h42m
Total 6.1m, +/-4725, 8h53m
Gear: trekking poles. Took ice ax, but never used. Micro spikes or Yak tracks would have been useful. Oh, hand warmers too.
Copyright 2012, FWB, all rights reserved