Failure Is A Stopping Point on the Way to the Top: Climbing Triple Peak via Southeast Ridge

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The road to success is seldom straight forward, particularly when mountaineering. Success comes from hard work, education and experience. This is the case with my August 9th, 2015 summit of Triple Peak, located in the Mackenzie Range on Vancouver Island.  In February, I wrote of my failed attempt at the summit of this aggressive looking peak.

Hiking and Climbing Triple Peak via the Southeast Ridge
The view of Triple Peak from the lake below at 1000 m 

Reflecting on my first attempt, I wasn’t deterred at being turned back. Rather, I was filled with the impetus to overcome the obstacles. I was inspired to learn the skills to tackle this summit! I participated in two courses, a trad climbing course on building anchors and setting rock protection and a mountaineering course focusing on snow and glacier travel, including  techniques for protecting on snow and glacier. Further, I climbed different peaks that each offered something unique to build my level of confidence and practice the skills needed to attain Triple Peak’s summit.

Hiking and Climbing Triple Peak via the Southeast Ridge Route Map for Triple Peak
Triple Peak Map, South East Ridge and GPS Route with photographs

Total Horizontal Distance: 13 km
Starting Elevation: 526 m
Maximum Elevation: 1548 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1097 m

We accessed the trailhead from the Marion Main line off Highway 4 — about 50 km from Port Alberni. Since my trip up this road last year to hike the Cobalt Lake Route to Mount 5040, Marion Main has hosted a lot of traffic. The worst areas of the road have not been made better. It’s likely that those driving 4×4’s have dug up the sections a bit more.  Regardless, I was still able to wend my Subaru carefully through the cross ditches to our starting point.

The route to the lake is simple hiking with some third class and one short section of class four, though there is hand-line installed to make these sections easy. We arrived at 8:30 (575 m), the grey sky hosted low overhead clouds and cool damp air greeted us as we prepared for our trip. With the recent rains the Effingham River was running quite well, we opted to use the log crossing. The route beyond the river and up to the lake (~1000 m) is well-booted and follows mostly up the right side of the river,  past multiple tiers of the waterfall. When working your way up the waterfall you cross back and forth three times, when you emerge from the bush onto the rocks beside the river remember to check on your right. Do not cross the river if you don’t need to.

Hiking and Climbing Triple Peak via the Southeast Ridge
Phil dancing across the water as we make our approach to the lake below the summit massif

This being our second trip to this region, we are familiar with the route, we hiked quickly past the natural features, not pausing for many photographs. Typically, the lake can be reached in about two hours, including stops to take photographs and route find with big bags, we made it there in a little over an hour.

Our view once we reached the ridge above the falls, below Triple Peak

Our final climb to the summit would follow the Southeast Ridge, from the lake we traveled to the left of the main summit, looking for the chock stone. From the lake to the final gully up to to the chockstone is simple class two hiking, depending on the route you chose you may find some class three. From the lake we looked to the bluffs ahead and followed a slightly booted path to the left of bluffs. There are multiple options for route finding up to the top of the bluff. We found our way up a dry waterway, which we were easily able to navigate. One caveat, we used crampons on the upper region of what is remaining of the snowfield but we walked less than 20 metres on hard ice, it would not be easy to navigate around it.

As you climb the bluffs the chockstone can be seen on the far left as a bump on the left of the main summit. The chockstone marks the southeast ridge route. The climb up to the chockstone is steep and kicking rocks down on someone below is a possibility. At the chockstone we removed our backpacks and squeezed through gap in the stone. From the stone there are two options, straight up the bushy line that leads to the higher elevation. We used an easier route; follow the rock wall to the left and use the trees to step up and onto a rock shelf that ultimately leads to the same place the  aforementioned route leads.   The route beyond is obvious, though it does require the class four scrambling up rock and shrubs. The shrubby route, opens up into a 15-20 metre scramble up a section of rock in an open-book configuration.

Hiking and Climbing Triple Peak via the Southeast Ridge
Phil rappelling down the bushy route,  follow the rocks on the left for a much easier ascent
Hiking and Climbing Triple Peak via the Southeast Ridge
Over the open book, this is the final approach to the summit of Triple Peak

The open book is the area I was turned back before. Today, we had plenty of time and better weather, though rain threatened, the ground was dry. I brought 3 draws, a 60 metre rope and a variety of slings for building anchors. The route is commonly listed as a scrambling route, i was suggest its class 4 with a steep run out and a lot of exposure off  south side of the mountain, to the deep valley below. I made use of existing pitons and a sling on a sturdy tree to build and anchor. Phil belayed me as I climbed up and used draws to clip onto a second piton and another tree at the top. Once off the open book I made use of the webbing to anchor and belayed Phil up behind me.

 The open book is the crux of the climb and though it took us time to get set up I felt much more secure with the protection in place. The final push to the summit is only another 20 metres in elevation gain to the summit but it is very easy scrambling over bushy and rocky terrain to the rocky  final rocky pinnacle.

Summit of Triple Peak
Phil on the summit of Triple Peak

Sitting on the top was a moment of joy. After our struggles the first time, we were thrilled! I was particularly proud of putting the components of my two mountaineering courses into practice and achieve our goal.

Triple Peak Southeast Ridge Open Book
Phil rappelling down the open book on the return from Triple Peak

Descending, we used the existing anchors and added some new webbing and rappelled down the open book, a second rappel over and down the bushy section to the chockstone below, and lastly off the chockstone. From the chockstone we made excellent time to the lake and down the waterfall.
We followed a different route down to the lake, though nothing more than class three, the route finding is more challenging than the route we followed up.

We made it back to the car by 5:15 pm safe and sound with the seat warmers turned on relaxing our leg muscles.

View dozens more images from this trip…

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