The Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge

Back in early October, Jen Mark and I went for a hike up the classic duo in Garibaldi Park, starting from the Rubble Creek parking lot, up to the Black Tusk, over to Panorama Ridge, and back down. I wanted to go down Helm Creek too, but there was a lack of interest/car. I really enjoy the volcano landscape around the Helm Creek headwaters, the cinder ash flats, and the barren ground. It’s a stark contrast to the coastal rainforest that the trailhead begins at. It’s beautiful covered up in white powder in the winter, but the colours and details stand out at this time of the year.

I’ve spent more time here in the winter than in the summer, usually staying away in the summer due to all the crowds. It was damp at the parking lot, but we were in t-shirts in warm sunshine once we broke out of the valley fog at tree line. 

On the Black Tusk, we stopped shy of the true summit, as most people do. The early twenty version of myself might have rappelled off the summit cairn and then climbed up the rotten rock on the other side to sign the summit cairn but I can live without that type of excitement today. If you have an inclination to go for it, you should read this trip report first of a true summit bag. 

“Everything I touched was loose and ready to fall down. I basically found the pieces of rock that seemed to move the least and carefully and quickly made my move for the summit and reached it.” – Jeffster

I want to catch the sunset on top of Panorama ridge. I had visions of the sun setting below the clouds, bringing out vibrant orange and magenta hues. The magic light. So I convinced Mark and Jen to hang out with me at the top. It wasn’t a hard sell, with the mild temperatures, lack of wind, and stunning scenery. I tried my best to explain which peaks where which, and where the good skiing was. The magic sunset didn’t happen, but I was still happy to have spent the two hours up there, sitting, watching the mountains and doing nothing else. 

There have been a few reports of break-ins at the Rubble Creek parking lot this summer. When we got back to the car, the windows were fine, but a mouse had gotten into the car, and stole some of my morning-old granola that I left behind in my shopping bag under the passenger seat. I opened the door, and saw the furry little guy run away and behind the far seat. Somebody did tell me a story of this happening, where they returned to their car and potato chips were scattered all over the seat. I sat upright the whole way back to Vancouver, paranoid of anything tickling my ankles.  

For those interested, there is a presentation by Dr. Bob Turner on the geology of the Sea to Sky country, organized by the Varsity Outdoor Club, on Dec 3rd, 2014. I’m looking forward to it! 

Full photo set on Flickr

Hiking above Garibaldi Lake

Tantalus above the fog
Tantalus above the fog

Crossing well-trodden scree slopes to the ascent chimney

Fall colours in the Helm Creek headwaters

If you look closely, you can make out the hikers ascending the scree slope.

Hiking below the Black Tusk
Silhouetted for scale with Castle Towers Mountain

Hiking down towards Helm Lake


Pelion Mountain high above the valley clouds

The east slopes of Black Tusk, in Fall colours

Summit tourist on top of Panorama Ridge

The Sphinx Glacier
The Sphinx Glacier


Mount Garibaldi
Mount Garibaldi with a developing lenticular cloud

Walking on Panorama Ridge
Walking on Panorama Ridge

The Black Tusk
Beautiful afternoon light on the Black Tusk.

Looking into Sphinx Bay

Jen and Mark on Panorama Ridge
This could be a good photo for a motivational poster. “Your knees will never forgive you” – Jen

Not a bad day on Panorama Ridge
What a great day!

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