The NE Face of Nch’kay (Mt. Garibaldi) is a classic “steep” ski line on a peak that dominates the Sea to Sky but is still requires a bit of effort to approach. The climb itself is non-technical with much of the face possible to skin followed by a short bootpack to the summit.
A snowmobile makes things significantly easier via an approach from Brohm Ridge to the park boundary followed by a short skin onto the Warren Glacier and up to the summit. Without a snowmobile, one must choose between approaching via the Garibaldi Neve (a good choice in mid-winter when most of the Brohm Road is snow covered) or driving as high as possible on Brohm in a truck and skinning along the ridge (better in late spring/early summer when possible to drive quite high).
If completing as part of a Neve Traverse, the NE face isn’t that much of a side trip and provides an awesome run from the summit down to Garibaldi Lake.
Switchback up past the tent and onto the face proper. Crevasses exist here so use caution with route finding. The final face is guarded by a bergshrund that in mid-season with a deep snowpack, may not be visible or in late-season in a thin year, may provide some difficulties. This is a good time to change to crampons and boot the final section to the summit. It is possible to make several 30m rappels from the SW side of the summit to gain the plateau separating Dalton Dome and Atwell if those are on the schedule for the day as well.
No special gear necessary aside from aluminum crampons and an ice axe. Here’s my Basic Ski Alpinism Kit
2013 Trip Report:
We had a big storm during the week and conditions were just coming back into shape for the weekend. My day to get out was Sunday and the weather was looking beautiful. I wanted to put in a big day and ski something steep so I texted Tyler who was also keen. We decided on a 6:00 start time to ski Mt. Garibaldi from the Elfin Lakes Trailhead.
I have been looking up at Mt. Garibaldi from Squamish ever since coming to BC in 2009 and have always want to make it to the top. I have even skied right past it several times while skiing the Garibaldi Neve Traverse. Unfortunately, bigger projects, further away have always taken priority so until yesterday I had never made an attempt. It’s one of those things in your backyard that you never quite get around to doing but always want to.
We set a strong pace across Paul’s Ridge and up Ring Creek. We slowed down a bit as we hit the high point of the Garibaldi Neve Traverse but worked our way up the glacier through some icefalls to the base of the route. There was heavy wind and definitely some stiff windslab on the NE Face of Garibaldi (See Kevin McLane Alpine Select pp. 184) but we found a nice gully with stiff almost ice that made for a fast bootpack up to the summit. The bergshrund was almost completely filled in across the face and presented no problems.
From the top we had nice views of Atwell, Dalton Dome and peaks further away in the Tantalus, Spearhead, McBride, and Cascade Ranges. Mt. Baker dominated the view to the south beyond Mamquam and Sky Pilot.
The run down was fantastic skiing dodging seracs and skirting around big sagging crevasses. We skied from the summit, past the sharks fin and down to the transition point to climb to the Warren Glacier. From there, a nice run down the glacier took us to the unending flat skin across the lake. Low on energy we opted for the hopefully shorter ski down the Barrier which worked well except for a short bootpack to avoid a creek at the bottom.
- Time: 11 Hrs 23 min
- Distance: 46.15 kilometers
- Total Ascent: 2,428 meters