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A hike and a book review

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  • A hike and a book review

    I had to take my mountain bike into the shop for some service last weekend, so I figured I'd test out the walking muscles in my legs for a weekend. They haven't been used much this summer, since all I've doing is biking (not even any climbing... what's wrong with me). My partner and I were attempting to figure out where to go. We had both read John Clarke's biography: Exploring the Coast Mountains in the winter and figured we'd go check out Mt. John Clarke (re-named from Sun Peak a few years ago). We'd been past the area before on a previous ski trip to the East side of Tinniswood (2000m / 6500 ft. of vertical descent) so we figured it be fun to go back in summer.

    Since my partner has been living sans ACL for the past few months we decided to go in light and keep the days easy in order to not test the limits of her knee. We shoved our UL gear in a 20L pack for her and a 25L pack for me and were on our way on the logging roads out of Squamish at 2pm. 2 hours later (1 hour of fast logging road, 1 hour of slow logging road) we'd reached a debris flow blocking the road and headed for the trail on foot, only stopping to lighten our back packs some more (stashing beer in Outrigger Creek).

    Someone had brushed out the bush at the trail head, so it was easy to find. The trail was steep and direct, but pretty easy to follow. The trail was a cross between an established hiking trail and a climbers trail. Lots of evidence of trail clearing, but not very well used. It wandered past some impressive old growth trees and through blueberry thickets that were overflowing with ripe blueberries. YUM! We made it up to Bug lake within 2 hours and promptly lost the trail. We wandered around a bit, but found the trail again on the N side of Bug Lake (we didn't really gather much beta... oops).

    We followed the trail up a bit then across what would be a nasty avalanche path in the winter, where it gained an E ridge of the sub-peak of Mt. John Clarke. Some nice talus hiking brought us up below the sub-summit where we set up camp around 1900m (after 1600m of vert!). We found a small flat spot in a heathery area then cooked dinner on a big rock with great views all around.

    No one cares that you can't tele

  • #2
    The next morning we woke up and headed for the summit if possible, although we weren't sure of the route so we were just going to see where we ended up. We wandered up some beautiful granite slabs. Seriously. These slabs were beautiful white granite. Where are my climbing shoes! There were lots of small splitter cracks filled with alpine bouldering potential.

    Once you gain the ridge there's some more fun up and down scrambling with optional bonus fun thrown in wherever you liked. Nothing was exposed on the broad flat ridge unless you ventured further to either side where the ridge sharply dropped away. We made it to the sub-summit only an hour after leaving camp where we hung out in the sun for a long while and took in the views. (sub summit is on the left of the photo)

    We decided to pass on the summit today since the dog had struggled on the scrambly bits and that looked easy compared to what was to come (in terms of exposure), but without anything holding you back it looked fairly straight forward to pick your way down the East side of the ridge and skirt around the glacier to the S ridge to gain the summit. Or the glacier would also be a mellow walk or ski to the final pinnacle. We turned around a instead did some swimming in Bug Lake and later Outrigger Creek. Both being quite enjoyable in the mid day heat.

    But onto the book review!
    I had only heard a little of John Clarke before reading the book. I knew that he had done a low of exploring in the area, but I sort of classified him as "crazy hippie". Well he certainly was crazy... and a hippie... but his attitude and ambition were what made him such a compelling character. All you need to do to verify his credentials is open the book up to the page that marks a PORTION of his first ascents... organized by decade... most of them solo.
    Oh and that doesn't include 180 first ascents north of there. His attitude when approaching trips in the mountains is unique and I think we could all take something away from it.

    The author isn't necessarily the most eloquent, but she does a more than adequate job of describing John's life and trips.

    There's one point in the book where John Clarke recruits Peter Croft to climb a peak of a certain technical nature. After a few days of low land travel up some heinous valley they begin the climb. While the rope is still in the pack and they make progress upwards, Peter Croft stop to remark that they've been solo'ing mid fifth class for the last while. John Clarke had always called almost every peak he climber "3rd class", since he assumed that because he was not a climber, he could only do up to class 3 difficulty. So 3rd class on John Clarke first ascents may be up to 5.7, which could make certain "easy" scrambles more exciting in the Coast Mountains... a good thing to know. Although it can be safe to say that if John Clarke was able to ski it, you'd likely be able to ski it too, since his skiing ability is continuously trashed in the book. I believe he burns his wooden skis one trip when he's sick and tired of them and doesn't want to carry them out.

    I'd say this is a must read for anyone who grew up in the Coast Mountains as it has the most extensive history that I've seen for this area. But if you like exploring mountains, this book will be most entertaining and should provide ample motivation to get out there on a crazy adventure. Oh and he was a pinner, so I'm sure this will bring great joy to a few people on this forum.
    No one cares that you can't tele


    • #3
      Lisa is great, I believe she continued John's youth program in Squamish. Several of us Ttippers attended the memorial service near Park Royal.

      I also enjoyed this documentary on him.

      Photos on a horseshoe traverse to Tinniswood, where we exited over Mount John Clarke and Bug Lake.

      Looking towards Princess Louisa inlet on the way in:

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      Campsite along the way:

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      Another one of the campsite:

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      Looking towards Elaho valley:

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      Last edited by SteveK; 14 August 2014, 12:17 PM.
      Soccer is a game of feet. Hockey is a game of inches.


      • #4
        Thanks for the post Alex and Steve, Great stuff......
        "Just say no to groomed snow"


        • #5
          Great stuff! Thanks