Wedge Mt. North Face – ascent line in green (notice the detour due to whiteout), descent in red.
Alexis and I took off after school on Tuesday to ski the North Face of Wedge Mt. near Whistler. We got a late start up the Wedgemount Lake Trail, leaving the car around 5:30pm. For the first hour of the trail we had to carry skis but after that we were able to start skinning. We got to the hut in near whiteout and heavy snowfall by 9pm. A quicksnack and we were off to bed.
Alexis crossing Wedge Creek, starting up the trail to the hut.
The next morning we woke up expecting more clouds and lots of snow. Both of us were ready to ski back down to the car but when I opened the hut door we were shocked to see a bluebird day and a full view of our intended line. We jumped into gear, had a quick oatmeal breakfast, packed our bags and took off across the lake and up the glacier.
Frozen Wedgemount Lake, Wedge Glacier, and Wedge Mountain taken from the door of the hut.
The skin up the glacier was uneventful but we noticed clouds building in the valley below. We had to detour around some big seracs in the icefall and after cresting one, found ourselves enveloped in clouds and snow.
Alexis skinning up the glacier before the clouds roll in.
We were too far from the rock walls to get any sense of direction and found ourselves wandering somewhat aimlessley around big seracs and even bigger slots in the ice. We decided to sit tight and eat something hoping for a break in the clouds to orient ourselves. I said I would sit as long as I could stay warm as I had chose not to carry a puffy jacket. Just as we started to rip our skins and bail from the climb the clouds parted slightly and we could make out a shadow of the glacier. We stated cruising up again and found the rock walls of the North Face. A bit of backtracking along the face took us to our intended line.
Skiing around seracs in the Wedge Glacier icefall. (It is hard to take pictures of snow and ice in a whiteout); Alexis dropping into the North Face; Looking up from the base of the North Face on the Wedge Glacier.
We made good time booting up the face and found the summit ridge well guarded by a huge cornice. A traverse left across glare ice seemed uninviting and tunneling through it seemd equally unpleasant. We dug out a small cave under the least intimidating spot and switched to skis there. We took turns dropping onto the face and skied blower powder all the way down to the lake.
The ski (and walk) down the trail was hard but we made it back to the car. In the future, I will make sure to do the Wedgemount Trail wither in mid-winter when it can be skied entirely or in sumemr when it can be done in running shoes. I’ve had enough postholing in ski boots for a while.
Gear: No pro needed, just carried glacier rope and harnesses.