It’s great having a regular group of friends to hike with. From week to week, the members of the group may change, but each person comes to be someone on whom I can rely. It’s more important that they are consistent and always improving than that they are the best at any given task. When the bush gets thick or the slopes get slick, looking over and seeing someone else suffering alongside me, or seeing them surmount a problem, inspires me to keep going. Of course, sometimes it’s the group that makes the tough choice to turn around, as we did on our June 3rd excursion to Mount Abraham.
Yes, another adventure in the Genesis Range. Mount Abraham was the goal, and we arrived expecting a gruelling day of fighting bush, fording rivers, and grunting up steep slopes through blueberry, willow, and huckleberry. We were only half right.
Total Distance: 13 km
Starting Elevation: 840 m
Elevation Gain: 950
Maximum Elevation: 1639 m
Total Time: 6 h
Thanks to a 4:00 am departure from Nanaimo, we were hiking the alder-covered logging road on our way to Mount Abraham by 8:30 am. We were fortunate to find the alder dry and the river low; it made weaving our way through the dense thicket bearable and the crossing comfortable. But we were most excited that within thirty minutes we had left those obstacles behind and entered the old-growth forest of Schoen Lake Provincial Park. From there, we quickly found our way up the west-facing slopes to the hanging Abel River Valley between Mount Sarai and Mount Abraham.
At the lake (1060m) we discovered snow that quickly accumulated to more than a foot deep and bore our weight without snowshoes (which we’d left in the car). Finding this, we altered our intended route – around to the north or east aspect – and instead used a long gully that rises from the east end of the lake. It provided quick access to the saddle at the ridge above. This was the descent route used by Lindsay Elms in his 2008 Island Bushwhacker article, from 2008, p30.
Sometime on the way up, the cloud descended and the snow began. The longer we hiked, the harder it snowed. Once we were on the saddle at the head of the gully (1480m), we followed it to the highest sub-summit west of the main summit. We routed below this feature on a heather ledge to a notch, and then attempted to make our way over a pinnacle to the next notch. Phil explored the route ahead by climbing down a chimney filled with friable rock, only to be stymied by poor visibility that made it impossible to see the route down to the next notch. Each edge looked like it dropped into a white void. On his way back up the craggy pinnacle, he set a series of small boulders free. The sound they made crashing into the shelf below might have been mistaken for the snap of the decision we made to call it a day.
Give me your hand! Okay, I exaggerate, but after exploring a few other options, we did call it a day. Without the trip report in hand, and largely because of the horrible visibility, we weren’t keen to drop off either side of the ridge to try and cross below the craggy feature. Before we headed down to the lake for lunch, we took five minutes to stand on top of the sub-summit (1627m).
We’ll be coming back to Mount Abraham with Lindsay’s trip report in hand, to give this same route another go.
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