Words by Lee Lau. Pictures by Lee Lau and Jonathan Armstrong
After yesterday’s gong show, today turned out to be a lot easier. Long, slow, steady progress but almost always easier. We had a good night’s sleep and awoke to relatively dry clothes. We were kind of scared about the steep slopes of Cheakamus Lake but it turned out to be a lot easier then feared.
Camp on day 4
Some initial bushwhacking
Lucky we weren’t short of food
Relatively easy going for Jonathan and I
There were signs of human travel in this area right from our campsite. Travel was a lot easier then the day before and we managed to mostly walk all the way on a rough trail with skis on our backpacks stepping aside on the odd blowdown. By one o’clock (even after a late start) we were on the maintained trail. To see constructed bathrooms and a manicured trail with bridges and almost no blowdown after our long walk looked like heaven. At this point, we finally realized that we might be able to make it out before dark.
The immortal words of Steve Ogle kept coming to mind all the way through this slog, – to paraphrase: “It’s one thing to be the first person to ski this route; it’s quite another to be the last person to ski this route”.
The maintained trail is halfway along the shores of Cheakamus Lake at about its mid-point.
West shore of Cheakamus Lake – only four more klicks to the parking lot
Much to our surprise snow depth increased at about the Helm Creek trail intersection with the main Cheak Lake trail and we were back on our skins again. This turned out to be a good thing as there was good snow coverage almost all the way down the 7 kms of Cheakamus Lake access road and we managed to ski almost all of that back to the Whister highway.
Snow depth increases again at about the Helm Creek trail intersection
Finally out! Lots of snow on the old logging road out to Hwy 99
Sign close to the Cheakamus Lake trailhead
The end of the 7km slog out from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead
Finally, at about 6pm we made it out. Who would have thought that even the “safe” McBride traverse bailout from the Cheakamus would have taken almost two full days of painful slogging? One further note is that the bailouts down Isosceles Creek (from Drop Pass) and Castle Towers Creeks look very dangerous. You would be constantly exposed to slide paths on all side and the going would be very very hard – probably harder then the Cheakamus bailout. It turned out that our decision to not overnight at Drop Pass where we might have been caught in the storm was a good decision. I’m also pretty stoked that we made it out when we did so that both Jonathan and I didn’t worry our loved ones too much by being late returnees.
One last thing remained – Mt Burger King.
Slaying Mount Burger King’s Triple BK Stacker variation
Day 4’s route
Day 4’s profile