Going around something familiar in the mountains, by doing a circumnavigation, seems to be a good way to explore new areas. But on this Saturday back in May, I didn’t leave Vancouver until 6:30pm, as I had spent the day sailing in Howe Sound for the Collingwood Channel Race. I started up the Rubble Creek switchbacks in the last light of the day, turning on my headlamp just past the Taylor Meadow junction. I would end up carrying my skis all the way to Garibaldi Lake. I was planning to camp at the lake. Jen and Mark were having a birthday party up at Garibaldi Lake, so I was trying my best to rendezvous with them. Otherwise, I would have continued to Taylor Meadows, a shorter walk to snowline and thus skiing. But what’s a bit more hiking with skis after a whole season of doing that?
By time I arrived at the lake at 10:30pm, they were already in their tent. The snow conditions were not promising for the next day. All around the shore of the lake, there was a 10cm breakable crust overtop of sugary snow. I was post-holing up to my knees as I unpacked my bag and set up my open air bivy next to Garibaldi Lake. My idea for the next morning was to wake up stupidly early, head up to Panorama Ridge to catch the sunrise, and then work the aspects and time the corn cycle as I skied around the Black Tusk.
Moonlight self portrait on the shore of Lesser Garibaldi Lake. I was hammering up the trail on this warm evening, but had to stop for a photo once I saw the full moon rising.
My bivy next to a frozen Garibaldi Lake
Starry trees at the shore of Garibaldi Lake
Looking across the lake at Sphinx, Guard, Price and Clinker Peak
I didn’t sleep much that night. I brought my lightweight +3 summer sleeping bag, and was planning to just wake up cold and get moving. I wanted to catch the sunrise near the top of Panorama Ridge, so I packed everything up and started walking up the Taylor Meadows. There wasn’t enough snow in the trees to ski. There was a reasonable overnight freeze once I hit the meadows, just good enough to go quick on skis. This is a photo of the full moon setting over Mount Pelion.
Let the light show begin! This was early May, and Garibaldi Lake was already melted out at the far end at Sentinel Bay. The first light was catching the snowy northeast face of Mount Garibaldi.
Northeast face of Mount Garibaldi. Davey Regan and I were up here in February skiing off the summit. Here’s that trip report
East face of Mount Dione and Tantalus. Two guys skied the partial Tantalus Traverse (Sigurd Creek to Lake Lovely Water) the day before. Zoomed in on this photo, I could just make out their tracks across the top of the Rumbling Glacier.
Northeast face of Mount Pelops and Mount Niobe, on the south side of Lake Lovely Water.
Brewing up some coffee in the morning, with a slice of pie for breakfast.
Firm snow condition on Panorama Ridge, with the Black Tusk in sight.
Skiing off the north side of Panorama Ridge, down to Opal Lake. The snow hadn’t soften up yet, but the surface was perfectly smooth making for fast carving turns down this slope.
Just me, my pack, and a lot of snow. Who said winter was over? From Opal Lake, I decided to go up and over the Cinder Cone, a small dormant volcano with only a hundred metre of relief, and gentle on all side. I skied off the far side, across Helm Meadows and up the east side of the Black Tusk.
North face of Castle Towers Mountain. A bit bonier than the year I skied it. There’s also a cornice guarding the right entrance, which wasn’t there when Greg and I were up there.
One of these is not like the other….
The snow was still firm, but you can just make out my turns. This slope can be a good for early season skiing, if you’re up for hiking your skis up here. The smooth cinder underneath is friendly on your ski bases once some snow accumulates.
Looking back at Panorama Ridge
White burnt trees on the way up to the Black Tusk.
Volcanic rock on the east side of the Black Tusk
My highpoint for the day. From here, I would ski the open slope on the north side of the Black Tusk, which you can see from Whistler. I skied down to 1600m and then skinned back up to the microwave towers on the west side of the Black Tusk.
There was a dusting of new snow from earlier in the week. Lower down, the snow was back to smooth spring corn, and I had some of my best turns of the year gliding blissfully down this slope. It is a great 500m north facing run.
I was getting all kinds of interesting angles of the Black Tusk today. This is a view of the north side.
I skied past the microwave tower, and worked my way up to the col south of the Black Tusk. I was worried that the south side of the Black Tusk would be mushy by now. It was 11:30am when I started skiing down from the top. I was happy that these south facing slopes were still holding up, with smooth corn snow most of the way down to the Black Tusk Meadows.
My skis in the Garibaldi Park forest. There was nobody else out here on skis, I must have been the only crazy one. Most of the people I passed on the way down were quite confused by my skis, which is perfectly normally. I was able to ski to somewhere halfway between the Helm Creek campsite and the Helm Creek turnoff. I pulled my running shoes out of my pack, and walked down to my car. I met up with Jen and Mark for some climbing at Murrin Park to round off this fine spring day.