Koma Kulshan and the Howe Sound Crest Trail

I’m way overdue on updating this blog, especially with some of the photos from early summer. Once summer rolls around, my schedule becomes hectic, and every minute outside of work seems to be filled with climbing running sailing and hiking. I’m not sure where laundry and other chores fit in (they may have just been neglected).  Back in May, I wanted to hike the Howe Sound Crest Trail but Alex wanted to get one last ski day on Koma Kulshan (Mount Baker). The conclusion after a brief conversation was to do both, making for an ideal weekend. We would end up skiing, eating pizza, hiking, and eating more pizza.

Part I:

It’s no surprise to anybody who tried to ski last year, that some hiking was involved. This photo might seem to resemble July/August conditions, but it was actually the end of May. We carried skis up to 1800m, above the Hogsback and right at the toe of the glacier below Heliotrope Ridge.

Hike a ski! With a view of Koma Kulshan (Mount Baker). Spring corn doesn’t wait for anybody, and we had to time our trip to be on the summit around 1 to 2pm. For an average pace, this means leaving Vancouver around 4-5am.

Normally in May, you don’t see suncups. The snow was soft and slushy below this point, and we were almost ready to turn around. On Friday evening, some clouds rolled in which didn’t help with the overnight freeze.

The Coleman glacier was looking very open for late May.

Oh yeah, donuts. This was Alex’s first donut, another theme of the trip. This one was fresh.

We decided to rope up on the glacier. Travel was straightforward, with the exception of small traverse cracks and two to three larger crevasses on the way to the Colfax col.

Above the Colfax col, the conditions were firmer and we switched to crampons along Pumice Ridge and up the Roman Wall on the right. This is normally the point when I meet climbers on their way down, after having an early morning start to ensure firm conditions for walking.

I had a good view of climbers ascending the Easton Glacier on the south side of Mount Baker.

The snow was firmer just below this photo, so we switched to bootpacking. Soon after, the angle eased off and the snow was softer and we were back to skis. I love the sea of clouds below. So awesome.

On the summit plateau of Koma Kulshan.

Summit Selfie

Looking down towards the Fraser Valley

Oscar, a solo skier from Bellingham who joined us for our donut run.

Alex ripping the perfect corn on the Roman Wall. Our timing of 2pm-ish seemed right,

Woohoo! This is such a great ski descent. I was here in March, and had way icier conditions. It was a pleasure to enjoy these effortless turns today.


Oscar ripping.



North and South Twin Sisters and Colfax

Juju skiing below the open crevasses. Everything was more open than normal.

Alex skiing below the big ice cliff on Colfax Peak

Alex’s going for his donut run. This one was frozen.

Juju’s donut run.

Hiking down the Heliotrope Ridge trail.

Part II: 

To make it the perfect weekend, Maddy joined Alex and I on a day hike of the Howe Sound Crest trail. Maddy was recovering from knee surgery, so we decided to go north to south as going up was easier on the knee. Somehow the part about the insignificant amount of descending was lost in the trip planning over beers on Saturday night. Starting from this direction results in a net elevation gain, somewhere in the range of 3000m up, and 2000m down.

Starting up the rooty Deeks Lake trail from Porteau Cove.

Despite the ski day yesterday, Alex was still fresh as a daisy.

Hiking around the shore of Deeks Lake.

The Lions, Mount Harvey and Harvey’s Pup. Later in the summer, I climbed the Harvey’s Pup (on the right), which has a fine ten pitch rock route on mostly solid rock.

Hiking through the overgrown cutblock on the south side of Mount Harvey

One of the more rugged sections of the Howe Sound Crest Trail


Despite growing up in Vancouver, Alex has never climbed the West Lion. So we went for the slight detour on this 4th class scramble.

Alex scrambling along the exposed downsloping ledges on the West Lion. I’m always surprised by people who try this scramble without having much climbing experience. It’s not that easy!

Just below the summit

Maddy waiting for us further along the trail

Alex on the down sloping slabs.

Hmm… we still have a long ways to go, and we are running low on water. There was almost no water enroute, aside from the lakes on the north end, ponds around Magnesia Meadows, and some small snow patches north of the Lions.

Smiling on the summit of St Mark’s. Almost there!

Back at the Cypress Mountain parking lot.

Finishing off with another pizza at Il Castello Pizzeria. That was awesome! Thanks Alex and Maddy!

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