Elusive Peak

DSC_9001, originally uploaded by RichSo.

Matt Gunn and I wanted to go out into the mountains, originally for two full days. However, the weather seemed to just keep getting crappier and crappier, so we decided to drive somewhere far (and hopefully dry) on Thursday and climb something on Friday. Matt warned me that he’s a weather optimistic. Thursday afternoon, Matt showed up at my house, and we checked the weather forecast, realizing that it was calling for thundershowers and rain on Friday, even in Lillooet! After browsing through some topo maps, we decided to go to Gott Creek, and try to climb Elusive Peak. Gotta love the names.

As we were driving north, we kept telling ourselves that the blue breaks in the sky were not sucker holes. Our weather optimism reached a low point in Whistler, when it started raining ridiculously hard, and I couldn’t even see Wedge! Bad sign. We were almost about to turn around at this point, but its hard to do, even when its foggy, and raining hard.

We reached Pemberton, and it was looking better! We could see blue skies over the Duffy! So we kept on driving, for a long time, until we reached the Gott Creek turnoff. There were blue skies over the Gott Creek and Blowdown area, good sign! It’s quite a drive, almost near the Downton Creek area. We drove for 3km along the road, and saw a couple with a big truck, their ATVs, and a trailer. It looked like they were going to have a romantic weekend of ATVing with the dog.

We kept on driving for another 7.7km, taking the left branch of Gott Creek (not the main one). This road had two minor washouts (doable in a 4wd HC), and some pretty smooth waterbars. Apparently the other road up Gott Creek is in better condition. We saw another truck at the end of the road, and decided to park there also.

Matt left the headlights on, so we could set up the tent. As I started setting up the tent, Matt said “The car is dead, did you see the lights dimming?” I thought he was joking. The lights weren’t even on that long, maybe 5 minutes, but the battery was dead. The engine wouldn’t start, and we were 10km away from the highway, and very far from Pemberton. At this point, I was thinking about the booster kit that Tim has, wishing Matt also had one.

We searched the truck nearby, hopefully to find a key under a rock so we could get to the battery. No such luck. We decided to hike out tomorrow morning, and ask the ATV couple to help us out. Otherwise we would have to ask for help on the highway. It was quite painful to think that we drove all this way from Vancouver, and couldn’t climb anything! Sleeping was hard that night, since the idea of waking up at 6am to hike down a logging road is not very appealing. I kept on thinking that the noise nearby was the owner of the truck coming back from his trip. Some people say a bad weekend in the mountains is better than a good weekend in the city, but we totally disagree. This was a low point in the trip. I tried to convince Nick and Stefan to come along on this trip, but now I was glad I didn’t sucker them into this mess.

It was painful to wake up the next morning, especially seeing that Elusive Peak wasn’t hiding in the clouds anymore. We walked 7.7km along the logging road, with the highlights being two bridges that we crossed (one was Holy!), and picking raspberries along the way. Eventually we reached the ATV couple. It was still quite early, and we really didn’t want to wake them up, so we laid down in stealth mode above their trailer. I wonder what the correct etiquette is here, if asking for help, should you wait until they get out of the trailer?

We walked towards the trailer, the dog started barking, and then we met Pete and Marilyn. They were incredibly friendly. I can’t emphasize that enough. We explained our situation to Pete, and he offer to drive the ATV up the road, bringing along a generator. This guy is super prepared (he also has four spare batteries). He has this massive truck (but surprisingly won’t take it up the road), with a hydraulic lift in the back for his two ATVs. With a push of a button, the platform with the two ATVs is lifted from the truck bed, and lowered to the ground. He also showed us his shotgun, and then placed it on his ATV gunrack.

We admitted to Pete that neither of us had driven an ATV before, so we doubled up with them. Secretly Matt wanted a picture of me driving the ATV, with the gunrack in the front. The dog was also on the ATV, and he looked like he really enjoyed it. We reached the car, Matt tried to start the engine again, no luck. Pete started up the generator, and it started to charge the battery. At this point, Pete explained to us several other ways to solve this problem. One method is to take the battery out, put it in the sun, and let it warm up. Another way is to get the car on a hill, put it in 2nd gear, and try to start it that way. Unfortunately we weren’t on a hill. After a few minutes of charging, the car started again and we were quite happy.

Earlier we decided that if we could get the car started, we would just drive home to Vancouver and bring it to the shop to have the alternator and battery looked at. But Pete offered to leave us the generator, so that Matt and I could go and climb something. They even offered to ATV up to the end of the road. It wasn’t long at all (maybe 100m), but they were quite keen on it. More ATVing!

With the early 10am alpine start, we headed into the wet cutblock and forest. It was quite short, and we reached the talus slope ahead. The weather was starting to get really good. We hiked up the talus slopes, reached a gorgeous lake, and continued up a steep north facing snow couloir to get onto the east ridge. It was quite steep at the top and the snow wasn’t quite soft enough, so I went left onto the rock and scrambled to the top.

From here on, the east ridge is super casual. The sun was shining and the views were great. After some pleasant ridge rambling, we reached the summit of Elusive Peak. Not so elusive anymore. I was quite happy that we could see from the summit. From this vantage point, we could see some nice meadows below us, and on the north side of Gott Peak. Elusive Peak is quite high compared to the neighbouring peaks. I think we were in the Gott Triangle. There was blue skies above us, but the higher stuff around Joffre, Siwhe, and the Stein-Nahatlatch were all clouded in.

We decided to descend another couloir, since it was less steep, and had more snow to the bottom. While glissading down, we both thought about how soon ski season would come.

While driving down the logging road (the fourth time on it), we stopped by Pete and Marilyn again. We were trying to get back to Vancouver at a reasonable time, but Pete offered us a beer, and time started to disappear. I think if we had stayed any longer, we would have been completely trashed. We finally reached the Duffy at 7pm, to start the long drive home.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *