April 20-21, 2007
Two friends and I stayed at Burton hut as part of our Garibaldi Neve traverse. The traverse was great with good visibility and just the right amount of soft snow for the long decent to the lake. The snow pack is deep up high and seemed very stable. We spent a night in the cozy glaciology hut after coming off the traverse, enjoying the chance to go barefoot on the warm exposed rock in the afternoon sun. The next day we managed little more than a ski over to Burton, which required a full dig-out, and a nap. Russ and I rallied around 6pm for an evening tour, making it 3/4 of the way to Sphinx col for sunset and a ski down on firm, but reliable snow.
The hut is in great shape, very tidy and well put together. A note on the Coleman stove reports a leak. We didn't try it since we had a camp stove. Nor did we, or the other group of five guys, test the heater or lantern. There are a couple snow melting pots and a 5gal bucket for collecting creek water, but no cook pots or other utensils. The creek is open and the water sweet, but don't venture there in your booties.
The next morning we bid farewell and waxed for the lake crossing, very scenic and enjoyable with the big peaks all out. Still plenty frozen. The top part of the trail was fun, with some pow in the trees, then a little fast and firm, then icy, beat up and downright nasty. We walked a couple km of the worst of it before hitting dry trail, about 4.5km of walking total. We had arranged a ride with a nice young woman who works at the Discovery center in Squamish who we contacted by cell phone (OK signal at both trail heads). A little grueling but were on the road to Seattle by 4pm.
The skiing possibilities above Burton had my eyes pooping out of my head. Two full days with the hut as a base are warranted. It won't be long before we return to this beautiful area.
Feb 17-18, 2007
Garibaldi Lake is now frozen all the way across. The newly renovated hut proved to be very warm inside with 14 people. The stream near the hut was frozen solid so we had to melt snow for water.
Feb 19, 2006
Nick Cowan's party of 5 left Elfin early on the 19th, heading across the neve, so they likely spent the night at Sphinx.
Nick's story: I somehow convinced 3 others (Sam, Clemence, Rok) to drive up to Garibaldi Park and try skiing over the Garibaldi Neve. This classic traverse is on most Vancouverites' checklist. Sam, Rok and i headed up to Vancouver Friday night in Sam's burly truck. We met up with Clemence, did some groceries and crashed on her floor. Woke up nice and late to avoid the early-morning Whistler traffic on the Sea-to-Sky. Set off from the Diamond Head parking lot around noon. The route up to Elfin Lakes Hut was super crowded due to the spectacular weather and, not surprisingly, we had to settle for floor space in the huge hut. Rok and i, having skinned up to the hut in pretty good time, headed up Columnar Peak to try out new gear (his splitboard, my helmet). We reached the summit at sunset and enjoyed some surprisingly juicy snow on the NE aspect. Made it back to the hut (just) before dark.
We woke up at 5:00 on Sunday and did our best to not wake up the 50-something other people in the hut as we ate breakfast and packed up. Sunrise saw us traversing the avalanche slopes underneath The Gargoyles. Crossing Ring Creek turned out to be a bit spicier than expected but by noon we were on the Garibaldi Glacier, just North of Opal Cone. The slog up the glacier was hot and heavy and we wondered when we were going to experience the frigid alpine weathers that had been forecast for the weekend. We reached the highpoint (about 7000 ft) below Mt Garibaldi in the early afternoon, and as some clouds were showing up, winds picking up and the temperature dropping, we decided to leave the summit for another day and simply ski down the Warren Glacier towards Glacier Pikes. Once again, we were pleasantly surprised at the good snow. We easily avoided crevasses and never came close to roping up. From Glacier Pikes we skied down Sentinel Glacier to Garibaldi Lake. From there it was a short jaunt up the lake to the Burton Hut, maintained by the Varsity Outdoors Club. Unlike the night before we were the only people in the (much smaller) hut. We enjoyed the peace and quiet and another delicious dinner.
Awake at 6:00, Rok, Sam and i headed up Guard Mountain shortly after sunrise. We skinned and kick-stepped up to a sweet-looking East-facing bowl and absorbed sick views of the surrounding glacier-draped mountains before skiing back down to the hut. Once again, the snow was way better than the rock-hard crust everyone had been expecting. After lunch, packing and cleaning up, we set off across the lake. By eschewing skins we made excellent time. From the NW corner of Garibaldi Lake we skied and hiked down the trail, past Rubble Creek parking lot, right down to Hwy 99. At this point we were in a bit of a jam, since Sam's truck was back at the Diamond Head parking lot. We had laid beautiful plans involving friends picking us up and taking us back to our car, but none of these panned out so we found ourselves hitchhiking down the Sea-to-Sky in the dark with lots of gear. Incredibly, one brave soul named Charlie drove up in a big-ass van and offered to drive us all the way up to the truck! An our later we were at the truck, marveling at our good fortune and changing into luscious cotton. A huge dinner at the Howe Sound Brew Pub has us in carb coma for the rest of the drive back to Seattle. Got back in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
The trip was everything it was hyped up to be. For those who go out for the sick mountain views, this is about as good as it gets.
Casualties: Clemence's Touque (lost somewhere below The Gargoyles) Nick's Nalgene (lost somewhere on Warren Glacier) Sam's Cables (snapped on Garibaldi Lake) Rok's Nalgene (lost somewhere on the side of Guard Mtn) Sam's Pole (bent while gawking at The Barrier)
Feb 18, 2006
JP's party of five were seen crossing the neve around noon on the 18th so they likely spent the night at Sphinx.
Feb 16-17, 2006
Lake is frozen very solid. Big winds and Hut was cold first night, but for second night we got the catalytic (naphtha!) heater going and partially buried the exposed parts of the hut to insulate it, and it wasn't half bad. Some urbanites had filled the Coleman lamp with kerosene, so this had to be dumped and washed with naphtha a couple of times before it would work. Did not investigate the Coleman stove or the kerosene heater, but likely the heater is rusted up and won't work. I am putting together a proposal to insulate the Hut, and take out the kero heater. Anybody interested in this one way or another, contact Roland.