Rob Wall's Blog

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Alfie goes mountain climbing

Posted by robjwall on July 20, 2010

On Sunday we took a taxi to the Lake Garabaldi Trailhead (alt 580m), about 20km North of Squamish.  After a very long 3 hours of constant uphill on an excellent trail, it was suddenly different: a stunning section of small lakes, steep streams, bridges, big white snowy banks, and sunshine!  Alfie was well rewarded for his long uphill battle – I can only imagine what its like to climb 900m (over 6km) with 3yo legs!  He has a policy of running downhill which is useful, when he’d not tired and trippy.  After the long uphill it was only 3km through this varied terrain to the Lake Garabaldi Campsite (alt 1470m), where we pitched a tent on a wooden platform, and another on the snow.  The kids made a great game of using the provided shovel to flatten some snow.    Kate went for a walk to take some pictures and the rest of us swam and lazed by the lake.  After a freeze-dried dinner, a solid sleep, and the usual weetabix and powdered milk with melted snow I was ready for something…

The kids were asleep, so rather than taking them up Panorama Ridge (2130m) as discussed, I decided to hike up to have a look at the Black Tusk (2320m) alone.   I had met some climbers the day before who recommended Mt Price  – 2050m – but the route to it was indistinct and snowy.  The route to the ‘tusk’ was more south facing so I figured on less snow – plus it is a very attractive peak from a distance.  I was wrong on both counts, the walk up was snowy and I lost the trail several times, but following my nose seemed to find it again.   There were some great grassy patches higher up, with small pine trees, great bear country, but I didn’t see any.  I am really enjoying moving fast in this  lovely terrain.  The lack of a pole, or axe brought back memories of sliding down snow slopes before, but it really wasn’t steep or icy (I carried a pointy rock for peace of  mind) and the bushwalking boots were fine.  After about 2 hours I got to the base of the scree, and decided to scramble up it a little: one step up, 1/2 step sliding back (but it makes a great sound), this thing is a huge pile of small hard black rocks.  30 minutes later I am at a rockface – loose and clearly unclimbable. I walked around to the right for 50m or so and find a short steep chimney of better rock – surely this isn’t the ‘scramble’ so many people do?  I decide to climb this 5m to ‘have a look’, its steep but not hard (5.5?), pulling up onto what feels like the scree again.  The terrain is lots of flutes of terrible rock that are all about 45 degrees from vertical: the climbing looks easy, if a  little dangerous, and I am worried about finding the way back to the top of the chimney, so I build a small cairn.  Another 15 minutes and I am at the top, and take a photo of the ‘Olympic’ cairns.  You can see everything Whistler / Tantalus / Mt Price / The Garabalidi’s.   I don’t linger.  I realise down-climbing that you could not have more than one person on this thing, each step sends a cascade of rock down, the chimney would be a shower of rocks (my carin was destroyed).  I enjoy climbing down the little chimney, and then running down the scree (in about 5 minutes, I undo 30 minutes of up).  I kept two rocks.  I meet two hikers on the way down, with lots of tattoos.  The snow is perfect for glissading too (all though by now my inexplicabley sort right leg is really hurting) and I am back at Taylor Meadows pretty quick (in all 3 hours to the summit, and 90 minutes down).  A great outing, in an interesting location, on an eroded volcanic remnant.  I wouldn’t feel the need to do it again.

Alfie leads the way on the long run back to the carpark, chatting all the way (until he got ‘tired legs’ in the last couple of km!).

3 Responses to “Alfie goes mountain climbing”

  1. Glenda said

    looking forward to more pics and stories !

  2. julie said

    Hi Alfie.Nan Nan and I have been looking at the pictures of you climbing. we miss you.

    lots of love from

  3. […] Both are great in there own way, especially with friends and family.  This photo of the Black Tusk was taken on the downhill  day Kate and I had alone on Whistler (great day,  complete with […]

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