In the interest of trying to climb some steeper terrain with skis on our backs, Nick suggested we try to climb the Hunt-Kelly route on Garibaldi. Despite not knowing much about the route other than a few photos from the internet and a friend who was recently in the area, we were stoked to go check it out.
Garibaldi is deceptively tough to get to, despite dominating the Squamish skyline. Access almost certainly requires some combination of long, steep, rugged logging roads, lots of approach skiing on various routes, and if you are smart, a snowmobile. I think that approaching from Paul’s Ridge via the Garibaldi Neve is one of the best options despite the extra long ski.
The other option, Brohm Ridge, is shorter distance but has a brutally rough road. We were able to park fairly high (~900m). From there you follow snowmobile tracks to the club cabin on the ridge and continue along to the Warren Glacier. One of the worst things about Brohm Ridge is that it is undulating so when skiing out, you have to put skins on to climb up at least twice. This all makes Garibaldi seem much more involved than it really is.
Luckily, unlike our recent Mt. Baker adventure, Nick and I found a solid crust that made for fast travel up the ridge and we made good time getting to the Warren Glacier. We opted to get to the base of the route high on the glacier to avoid crevasses but had to ski right under some enormous seracs that looked ready to dive off the North Face of Dalton Dome. While putting harnesses on at the base, a small plane buzzed over the summit and both of us ducked for cover before we realized what it was.
Our alpine climbing skills are significantly mismatched compared to our ski skills so while I would like to think I could have led everything we encountered on route, I know that it would not have been pretty and certainly not speedy. I was more than happy to watch and learn as Nick took the lead (seriously it was incredible). We made good time on the route, simul-climbing big snow sections but belaying tricky parts. The difficulties were all short sections of rocks with thin snow/ice coverage that did not give much purchase or afford much opportunity for protection.
- Pitch 1 took us over the bergshrund to the base of a rock step.
- Pitch 2 covered the rock step and got us into a big snowfield.
- Pitch 3 we simulclimbed up the snowfield to a huge amphitheatre of basalt walls.
- Pitch 4 we simulclimbed across the snowfield under the walls to the far right side.
- Pitch 5 was a short down climb on rock into and then up the main gully.
- Pitch 6 was a rock/ice step
- Pitch 7 was a long simulclimb up the main gully to the plateau between Dalton Dome and the summit of Garibaldi peak.
- Pitch 8 was mostly snow with a short rock step to the summit!
We are both still struggling with the best system for water. During a 1-2 hour skimo race, one bottle can be enough. Last year on Rainier (~4hrs), I used one bottle on my pack strap, one in my skin suit, and one in my pack crampon compartment. For a longer day (~10hrs), more water is required, and when carrying climbing gear, a skimo pack won’t work so the crampon pocket is out. Bladders with hoses tend to freeze solid at higher elevations when it is cold but provide the easiest access for hands free water while climbing. Water bags in the pack don’t freeze but are difficult to drink from quickly. Some combination of water bag and bottle might be the best option. The bottle is available quickly when climbing and can be refilled from the bag during short breaks.
We were both tempted to try to quickly tag Dalton Dome but with clouds and showers closing in on us, we opted to ski down and cross the glacier before we got whited-out avoiding crevasses. We were able to ski from the summit in fresh powder down the standard NE Face of Garibaldi and onto the Warren Glacier. There was no sign of a ‘shrund on the face and crevasses on the glacier were easy to manage. Rather than putting skins on at the base of the glacier to get back onto Brohm Ridge, we traversed as high as we could to gain a lower col and then continued traversing to end up at the base of the Sharkfin saving ourselves a transition. After gaining Brohm Ridge, it was just a matter of the long slog back to the car with boots filled with spring slush.
- Gear: Dynafit DyNA boots, PDG skis
- Nutrition: 5x Hammer Gel, 1 Hammer Bar & 3 slices of pizza!
- Stats: 34km, 2110m ascent, 9hrs,45min.