Archive:Valentine Gates Traverse

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Synopsis

This is an alpine traverse of the beautiful Place Glacier area. Climbing up Spetch Creek to Valentine Lake - a beautiful, heart shaped, alpine lake. Up over the shoulder of Saxifrage and into true alpine terrain crossing ridges and glaciers, over the Olds-Oleg col and back down the Place Glacier and eventually Gates Lake. Depending on the speed and fitness of the group it may be possible to summit Gardiner, Oleg, Olds or Saxifrage - but likely we will have to leave these peaks out as the traverse itself should be quite challenging.

If you've been on a few trips, perhaps nothing too serious, but are reasonably fit (or at least very tough) and own (or can borrow - maybe from the club) the gear you need, this is the trip for you. If you're wondering whether or not this is the trip for you, go ahead and email the organizer or better yet post on the message board, as other people might have the same question. The idea is for the trip to be pretty cool without requiring absolutely everybody have special skills and experience.

Google Map of the route

Difficulty

Because it is a traverse you are committed. The trip starts and ends in different locations, so you can't just "leave out" the Sunday summit push while you recover from the brutal hike Saturday - you have to finish.

This trip is 2410m elevation gain and 29km travel (north-south) (depending on how far we can drive). This means that, if you are reasonably fit and bring a light pack, you should be able to complete it in a weekend but will be moving all day with no time spent resting. If you bring a heavy pack you will suffer, and the group will suffer because of you - don't do this.

It also crosses glaciers and will (probably) involve some easy scrambling.

Hazards

Glaciers

On a glacier snow is a mixed blessing - since it covers up the crevasses. This can be good since it lets you travel over them, sometimes without even knowing they're there. If can also be bad, because the snow may collapse suddenly and you fall into a crevasse. The normal solution is to 'rope up' where you tie yourself together with your climbing partners so if you fall in your friends stop you from hitting the bottom. It's also a good idea to take off your crampons, if your boots are stiff enough to walk on the snow without them, since they can catch the sides of a crevasse and break your ankle. If we must travel on snow we'll rely on the 'huge rope team arrest' idea. By making really large rope teams no finely tuned skills are required in the event of a crevasse fall - just rely on the extra weight. This does mean that we'll have to avoid steep snowy terrain, but probably we should be doing that anyway.

Yourself

This trip will involve what's often called "General Mountaineering" - the sort of stuff you learn at Glacier School. Most of these skills are actually quite simple, but could have fatal consequences if done incorrectly. If you're asked to do something, or see everybody else doing it, (like put on a harness, rappel, rope up, put on crampons - anything) and you're not absolutely sure that you know how to do it speak up and ask for help. Seriously - stopping to ask for help is OK, putting yourself and everybody else in danger because you're not sure about what you're doing is not.

If you do something incorrectly it may be too late before your error gets noticed. You are responsible for your own safety.

Kit

We'll be sleeping somewhere... possibly on a glacier, but hopefully we find a scrap of rock. We'll need tents, or maybe we'll sleep under the stars (could be dewy). A sleeping bag and pad are needed, and they should be reasonably warm. In summer it can be really warm during the day, but will be cold at night if it's clear (below 0C).

Likely it will also be hot, and quite sunny - so suncreen, sunglasses, a hat and a bandanna are a really good idea. On snowy terrain it is possible to go completely snow-blind in a weekend without sunglasses.

We're also bringing some glacier kit. Enough rambling - it's listed below, might get updated as we get closer to the date.

Other stuff includes (list reserves the right to be amended):

Clothes

  • 1 set of non-cotton clothes (just the one on your back, preferably long sleeves/legs)
  • possibly some lightweight long underwear if your single set of clothes is very light.
  • a fleece or sweater - can be fairly light as we'll be either moving, eating or sleeping (no lounging)
  • A nice light breathable softshell to break the wind (maybe has a little insulation)
  • toque/balaclava (best warmth/weight ratio going for clothing)
  • gloves
  • boots (good, sturdy, boots. Note that mountaineering boots are different and far superior on snow compared to hiking boots)
  • sun hat
  • gaiters

Shelter

  • Tarps, hopefully - tents are heavy
  • sleeping bag (a summer bag is probably good, depending how warm you think you sleep. Between -7 and 0C would be ideal, forecast is for just below freezing at night. Spooning is lightweight and (usually) enjoyable.)
  • full length sleeping pad

Miscellaneous

  • Money (in cash) to pay your driver for gas (probably ~$20)
  • Burly container / outer bag for carrying poo bags
  • Poo bags (will be provided)
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • lip balm
  • sunglasses
  • camera (optional)
  • bug net (works way better than bug juice, plus it doesn't wreck the environment or your stuff)
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothbrush (optional)
  • Bearspray (optional - with such a large, probably noisy, group I'd be highly surprised if any self-respecting bear would go anywhere near us)
  • Very small knife (optional)
  • Lighter
  • Whistle

Gear

The absolute minimum:

  • ice axe (the lightest you can find)
  • crampons (only if your boots are not real mountaineering boots)
  • climbing harness
  • locking 'biner
  • helmet
  • NOTE: boots are listed separately under "clothes" - but might well be considered "gear". The VOC lends out sturdy boots if you need them.

If you know how to use them you may also wish to bring:

  • rope (or be one of 6 friends with someone who has one)
  • a few prussiks and extra biners
  • webbing

Maybe nice:

  • ski/trekking poles (poles are highly awesome for hiking. I can't recommend bringing poles enough)

We are not bringing:

  • crampons (unless your boots suck, as there will likely be no bare ice and crampons are heavy)
  • skis/snowshoes

Food

  • stove + pot + fuel + lighter (or be friendly with someone who has one - arrange this ahead of time at the pre-trip)
  • Plastic thing to eat out of (old yogurt container? Or something fancier)
  • spoon
  • Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch - remember you'll be on the move all day, so bring extra lunch for Sunday. Eat extra breakfast (which you then don't have to carry on your back) before heading out Saturday morning.
    • Most people can eat somewhat under 1kg of food per day (we're talking dehydrated food - no heavy water). Veenstra eats way more than most people and usually brings 250grams/breakfast, 400-500grams/lunch+snacks, 250-350grams/dinner+dessert.
  • Water (ability to carry 2-3L, depending on your size).
  • Water purifier drops/tabs (optional)

Luxury

(some things might be worth their extra weight, including):

  • songbook
  • 1 pair extra socks
  • down slippers for camp

Pack

And a pack to put it all in. Remember - stuff is heavy, so don't bring too much stuff! If you show up with a pack larger than 50L, the organizer will tear it apart in the parking lot looking for extra weight.

Participants

We’ll need a variety of different kinds of people to make this trip happen. Mostly we’ll need:

  • People who can get up earlier than everybody else and do a car shuttle. Ideally we leave 1 getaway car for every 5 drivers.
  • People who can drive, still getting up pretty early (although not quite as early as the shuttlers) whisking us safely in between the city and the mountains.
  • People who know things about glaciers, preferably who also bring their own ropes. Ideally we’d have 2 of these people per rope... but maybe we’ll have to be satisfied with fewer.
  • People who own tents, and people who own stoves, and are willing to share
  • Keen people who’ve never been on a glacier before to remind us old timers of the magic and wonder we might not feel ourselves anymore, just from being on a glacier.
  • Attractive young ladies, to keep our spirits high
  • Attractive young men, because ladies don’t do it for everybody

Large Group troubles

We will be a large group, as far as backcountry settings go. Somehow it is possible for some people to have their backcountry experience ruined by even knowing that a big group existed in a backcountry setting - they don't even need to see it with their own eyes... and some more reasonable people just don't like them out of habit. Additionally there are very real environmental and safety concerns associated with a big group. Please keep the following in mind, so that the VOC can continue to feel justified leading trips like this:

Be nice to others

Be exceedingly courteous to any other travelers you encounter. Be the example of good behavior. For example:

  • be friendly and happy - say hello etc.
  • stand aside and let faster trail users pass
  • don't pass slower trail users by crashing around them through the bush, wait for them to realize that they should stand aside (or just slow to their pace and talk a while)
  • don't criticize others' choice of equipment/style unless it creates a legitimate safety or environmental hazard (and even then be very careful how you phrase it - nobody has ever learned anything from a pissing contest. Try asking them about it, maybe they actually know more than you)
  • camp somewhere out of the way, out of sight and out of earshot of other groups

Be nice to the environment

Basically everything under this list also helps with being nice to others

  • Stay on trails whenever available (it's not so you don't get lost, it's to prevent damage to vegetation)
  • Camp on snow or durable surfaces (established camp sites, dirt, sand, rock etc. not grass, plants, etc.)
  • Pack out all waste, including:
    • your own garbage
    • other people's garbage you find on the way
    • your poo

Be nice to yourself, the group, and the organizer

This comes down to safety and enjoyment of the group. With a large group everyone needs to make an extra effort to have a good time and stay safe, and I would like to keep the tightly-knit group mentality on this trip. We are all one team. Respect each other, and I would really appreciate it if everybody takes responsibility for looking out for each other.

  • Wait for each other
    • Yes, there will be some waiting, be patient and remember that somebody probably waited for you, once. The faster people will end up taking breaks for the group to re-assemble, but the slower people will need breaks too. These breaks will are also for people to eat, make adjustments to their gear and make navigation decisions (not just catch up).
  • Don't wander off.
    • Please, please don't wander off. It makes it so very hard to keep things organized. There will be other trips to just wander around.
  • Speak up
    • I will try and make sure that we stop to talk about important issues, but everyone should take responsibility to make sure this happens.
  • Look out for each other
    • Check up on buddy - if they need help, help them.
  • Don't waste time
    • When we stop we will try and decide (as a group) how long we are stopping for, so people can decide how unassembled they want to get (is it a short break, a long break, do I have time to poo?). Try and remind me if I forget.
  • Don't faff around
    • Remember, you are not as ready as you think you are. Get yourself fully assembled and then wait around. Don't wait around for everybody else to be completely ready before attempting to put on sunscreen and realizing that you packed it down inside your tent (for example).

Getting there

We will be going North to South, and it is a traverse so we need to place enough "getaway cars" at the finish in order to carry all the drivers back to the trialhead to get the rest of the cars. The plan is for some people to run ahead and place the getaway cars at the receiving end of the traverse (which, as you drive, is on the way to the starting trailhead). Therefor, all cars will meet at the receiving end of the traverse - the getaway cars will arrive earlier, leave their passengers at the junction with the highway and shuttle sufficient getaway vehicles up the logging road. As the rest of the cars arrive at the junction with the highway they will ram these "extra" passengers into their vehicles for a cramped ride up to the trailhead, for which all vehicles will drive together convoy-style.

Finish (aka where we are meeting)

All vehicles meet at the finish of the traverse - the junction of Spetch Creek FSR with the road to D'Arcy (aka our Phelix Creek Hut) about 13.5 km after Mount Curie. If you hit Birken, or especially D'Arcy or the Phelix Creek trailhead you've gone too far.

Google Maps Driving Directions from Vancouver

Trailhead

From the meeting point at the finish of the traverse we will convoy together to the Place Creek Trailhead after placing the getaway cars. This is a short gravel cul de sac labeled Anson Pl. about 9km later, about 500m past a railway crossing. Again, if you hit Birken or D'Arcy you've gone too far.

Driving Directions for this leg

Total driving

It is approx 185km, so probably 400km (round trip) including pickup/dropoff/logging roads. Expect costs to be ~$60 per vehicle, negotiated with your driver (may be more for large gas-burners), plus extra donations for the getaway car which will drive some logging road distances twice.

Leaving times

Those in the getaway car crew will leave Vancouver, all passengers installed driving across the Lion's Gate Bridge at 5:30am. Remaining drivers will leave Vancouver at 6:00am (all passengers installed driving over the Lion's Gate). These times do not include stopping at Tim Hortons (or similar) for breakfast, if you would like to do that please leave appropriately earlier. They do include 1 stop for gas (say, in Pemberton), as everybody will need to do that due to the long distances driven (and the fact that there's no gas stations where we're going - don't run out of gas).

These times will allow the getaway crew a bit of a head-start to place vehicles up the road, and the rest of the cars time to re-load their packs and passengers abandoned on the side of the highway while they do so. It will also (probably) place us at a good camp site by around 8pm, depending on how fast we end up hiking.

Pretrip Meeting Agenda

  • 6:30 Plan + Questions (go over information on wiki)
    • route
    • equipment
    • hazards
    • leaving time
    • big group talk (how to avoid making an ass of ourselves)
  • ~6:50 Sort out "interested" or "committed" from "actually coming"
  • Figure out who is bringing a rope
  • ~7pm: Tent+Food faff (this will be "free form" - you will be given the opportunity to arrange these groups among yourselves)
  • Gear hours will not happen, because we're at the beach. Attend the regular gear hours.
  • Car faff will be finished by Christian on Thursday morning. Drivers are welcome to assemble their own pickup runs by picking passengers themselves before then, which I will try hard to preserve.