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I like being outside if it's nice out. This includes mountain biking, trail running, sailing, climbing, skiing and much more. If you're going on a fun adventure, let me know!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Scuzzy Mountain and Fraser Peak

Last weekend, Alex Maddy Mia and I spent two great days exploring the area around Scuzzy Mountain and Fraser Peak. I hadn't given much thought to the area, I've tried a trip to the Kwoiek Needle a few years ago but turned back due to poor weather, extensive amounts of bush and deactivated logging roads. I haven't been that excited to get back into this area, despite the fact that this area holds some beautiful gems. Following this trip, my interest in the area has peaked again. After a number of delays, we finally left Vancouver at 10:30pm, ready to make the drive east.  It's a long drive to get into this area for a weekend from Vancouver, as it involves driving to Hope, north through the Fraser Canyon to Boston Bar and finally along Scuzzy Creek to the west. There's a good spot to camp at the Scuzzy Creek Recreation Site.


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It was cloudy the next morning, a blessing in disguise for the long approach to come. There's about fifteen kilometres of biking to reach the end of the road, due to a landslide. After stashing some beers in the creek, we started pushing and riding our bikes up the road. Most of the road is flat, making our bike approach quite suitable. At least that's what we thought for the first eight kilometres.


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We followed Scuzzy Creek FSR as it wraps around the long southwest ridge of Cam's Peak. There's a number of logging roads here, the amount of logging done here is impressive. Once we reached the south side of Mount Nesbit, we followed the valley north towards the Fraser-Scuzzy col. It was here that the bushwhacking began as the road switchbacked up into the valley. Thoughts of ditching our bikes below as Alex forged ahead and "broke trail" through the slide alder. I had a print out of a google earth image of the road ahead, and it looked wide and open in my photo, giving me a little bit of hope that things wouldn't get worse.


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Maddy deep in the slide alder jungle. Pushing bikes through slide alder is less enjoyable than with skis.


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It took us about four hours to reach the end of the road, that was going at a very leisurely speed. After stashing our bikes, we found a nice ridge in the clearcut, with good soft footing underneath instead of the usual deadfall and snags. Mia's been diagnosed with cancer, and this was her last trip in the mountains. I've had some good times with Mia, in particular a long bike trip in the South Chicoltins last summer, where her was running faster than I was biking for most of the trip. She's lost most of the strength in her hind legs now, making the steeper climbs through the forest a challenge. Getting up to the col was also steeper than what Alex had thought, hence the carry.


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The meadowy col between Fraser Peak and Scuzzy Mountain. Cam's Peak is off in the distance.


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Scuzzy Mountain in the distance. This east side of Scuzzy is gentle in contrast to the steep north face. Drew Brayshaw and Doug Wilm climbed a route called "Ninja Tiger Arete" back in 1999. Access to the north side is problematic these days, there's probably over fifteen kilometres of overgrown roads to thrash through.


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After going for a chilly dip in tis lake on the north side of Fraser Peak, we wandered up the indistinct northeast ridge of Fraser Peak. This mountain holds a number of interesting looking rock cliffs, although a bit licheny and uninviting for a picky climber like myself. The scramble up is easy, with little exposure through rocky bluffs and krummholz.


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Alex and Maddy scrambling towards the summit of Fraser Peak.


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Alex scrambling on Fraser Peak.


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Dinner was pasta with goat cheese and red peppers. It was perfect spot for dinner, with a great view to the west and a soft heathery carpet underneath.


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Open-face alpine sandwich.


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The view to the north from our dinner spot.


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Yoga time. I think the point peak right of centre is the Cairn Needle.


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Island in the sky. It was great to be able to just sit and watch the light change through the landscape, without worrying about getting cold or losing light for the way down. We sat back and watched the sunset paint its colours on the various remote and interesting peaks in the area.


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Scuzzy Mountain painted in alpenglow.


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The Old Settler and Mount Urquhart to the south. The massive East face of Urquhart has only seen one complete ascent.


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The last light of the day on Fraser Peak. We re-traced our route down to the lake, where we contemplated the next day's activities over scotch and margaritas.


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The next morning, we packed up camp and headed towards Scuzzy Peak.


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Misty valley fog in the trees below Scuzzy Mountain.


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Silhouetted tree branches and Scuzzy Mountain


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Morning shadow


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The route up the west ridge of Scuzzy is awesome. There's hardly any difficulties if one wishes to hike through the numerous heathery ramps, but between the ramps are fun sections of scrambling on good granite. The best part? No scree.


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Slab walking time.


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Hand jamming time.


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Jumping time.


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Looking back at the rambling ridge terrain on Fraser Peak. We hiked up right of centre to the summit at top left.


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The highlight of the scramble was this perfect alpine tarn. Completely surrounded on all sides by granite with the perfect depth that it warmed up in the afternoon sun to a comfortable temperature. It was a good spot to hang out. We abandoned our more ambitious scramble towards Cam's Peak in favour of a long summit lunch and swimming.


Photo by Alex Gibbs. Check out the rest of his photos here


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Mia was one thirsty and tired dog. This was Mia's last great epic trip with Alex and Maddy. She's been to some incredible places, travelled through beautiful meadows, and has fluffed her paws through bottomless powder. RIP Mia.


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Mountain bikes were not designed to go smoothly through slide alder. The descent from the col and down the logging road took longer than planned. Another unexpected excitement came while I was biking down the road, and was suddenly stopped by the sounds of a full sized bear clawing it's way up a tree, less than five metres away on the side of the road. A fast party should be able to descend from the col in twenty to thirty minutes, followed by an hour to hour and a half descent down the logging road. Go check out this area while the slide alder is still young!