So, sometime between last week and the dawn of time, there was an idea to ski the Neve on the weekend of the 22nd. I myself wasn’t aware of this fact until the Wednesday before the trip, as I was planning on a snowshoe trip to elfin that weekend that kinda-sorta-maybe fell through, so I went along for the Neve armed with snowshoes that weekend. The Neve, from what I’d gathered, was known for its amazing views, and, of course, I had fears about my viability to complete the trip after checking out the wiki. Oh well, challenge accepted, and off I went.
The pre-planning for the trip was fairly hasty. We had no definitive pre-trip meeting beforehand, and some of our gear (notably rope for crossing crevasses) was obtained on Friday the 22nd, just in time!
After a lengthy email correspondence, it seemed to all be sorted out; between the seven people going (Marie-eve, Natalie, Amin, Rishi, Paul, Diego, and myself), we would have two tents and enough stoves to go around (Diego was planning on snow trench/bivy’ing it), and we were to leave for Elfin (S->N traverse) on Friday night. The car groups being Amin driving Marie-Eve and I, and the rest of the group going with Natalie. After stopping by MEC for Amin to pick up his bag, we headed out to Squamish to the tune of the Rolling Stones. No Timmy’s stop along the way either, in blatant violation of VOC tradition. (you can ostracize us later, guys)
We arrived initially at the lower parking lot at Elfin lakes at approximately 9 PM and met up with the other car. A (not so) brief car shuttle later, and we were standing at the trailhead at 11:15. Amin, Natalie, Marie-Eve and I were ready to head up. The rest of the group had already begun and were in all likelihood at Red Heather already by this time. No big deal here, we’ll just have to put in a bit of effort to catch up.
The walk up to Red Heather was fairly simple, with nothing terribly special happening. The moon was out, so headlamps were hardly needed at all in order to see. Spirits were high, and the sounds of UBC students shouting “Neve!” echoed throughout the woods and probably annoyed a great amount small woodland creatures trying to get some sleep. Exam season is coming up…..
I decided to take off my snowshoes after a short bit of time here. Didn’t work out too well. Apparently putting on my gaiters would have been a good idea had they not been buried in my pack.
A nice blurry image of Squamish from the first viewpoint on the way to Red Heather
At 1:15 AM, we arrived at Red Heather and decided to sleep there for the night. The highly likely possibility of Elfin being full and having to squeeze three people per tent coupled with a 3:15-4:00 AM bedtime was not really a nice thought. Law be damned, we set up camp there, and I discovered that dehydrated meals meant to serve two actually only end up serving one. We quickly laid out our bedrolls and went to sleep sometime around 2:00-3:00.
Egads, I wish I could say i Photoshopped this blur. iPhones apparently aren’t good enough to take a focused photo (this was the better of the two I tried to take)
After a very leisurely wakeup at 6:00 in the morning, we ate and got packed up and ready to go. The shelter walls shook with our shouts of “Neve!”, and we managed to get packed up and leave at 7:15 in the morning, none of us having any idea about what was ahead of us.
The walk over to Elfin shelter was quite brisk and we managed it within two hours. I got my first taste of “Damn skiers!” along the way after being outpaced on the downhill portions. We arrived at Elfin shelter at a bright and early 9:30 AM.
Diamond Head/Atwell Pk. was relatively obscured at this point
Taking a nice break over at Elfin shelter while we waited for the rest of the group to catch up
At 10:00 AM or so, we headed off again towards the neve. This section was difficult in comparison to the previous night, but we managed it without any major issues. Some great pictures were taken in this section as well, but there’s a great many of them and I’d rather not flood your monitors with them, so click at your leisure.
Heading over to Ring Creek, we realized that all the elevation we’d gained up until that point would need to be quickly lost in order to be able to cross. The skiers happily de-skinned and headed down, and I followed (not so) close behind. At least I didn’t have to worry about falling!
The downhill to Ring Creek
Another image of the downhill
After reaching near the bottom of this (hollow? valley? I wouldn’t know the term here), we moved quickly through some avalanche terrain before getting to the Ring Creek crossing at around 11-11:30 AM. After taking a short break in the warm sun and re-distributing gear a slight bit, we headed up to get onto the neve.
The daunting walk up
The weather decided to give us a few worries as we headed up here, but it proved to be just a little cloud or something that temporarily blocked out the sun. Nearing the cusp of the Neve, we stopped to have lunch at around 12:30, and took off again at around 1:30
Yummy yummy food
Shortly afterward, we finally got on top of the Neve! The scenery was magnificent and the weather was fair. There was a clear skintrack leading us to… well.. the wrong way. More on that in a moment, I’ve got more pictures to chuck at you!
Around an hour into the trek across the glacier, we were told by a group of two skiers (One of them bearing the name Jason, and the other whose name escapes me) who kindly told us that the skintrack went the wrong way. GPS confirmed that we were, in fact, going the wrong way. The red represents where I think the skintrack was going, and black where we were supposed to go
Soon after, we managed to recover from our incorrect path, and got to see some great sights as we slogged up the steepest part of the trip. The walk up was fairly tough, and we crossed some pretty scary avalanche terrain.
A view of what I believe is Mount Luxor
The steep slog up
Once we got to nearly the top of this section, we sat down and waited for the rest of the group while we all sat in the shade while being pummeled by cold winds. Some of us layered up while we waited, then took off once more up the slope!
Diego and Natalie posing for some pictures
The view from the high point. You can tell it’s getting late
Shortly after we crossed the one visible crevasse by way of a large snow bridge, which meant we didn’t need to rope up. We arrived at the Sharkfin at around 7:00 PM, with light fading fast and our endurance very quickly fading. At this point, Jason and his buddy went on ahead of us as they were looking at getting to the Glaciology (Sentinel Bay) huts. We decided to get down from the Sharkfin before deciding where to set up camp.
Big crevasse. Black Tusk can be seen in the background along with the Table.
Pictures aren’t really available for the rest of Saturday due to light levels. In hindsight I probably should have brought my star creation kit to give us some more workable light for pictures. Anyhow, after a short slog up some col between two of the Glacier Pikes, we got our first view of Garibaldi lake by moonlight. After deliberation, we chose to head down from the col and find a place to camp, or to get to Sphinx if we could find the energy to get there. Headlights went on, and we headed down the slope. Shortly afterward we reached a very steep slope with cliffs, and were warned by Jason & Co. that we should turn back and find another way down because of the danger. One of them had managed to fall down the hills, without any injury but losing a skin. After turning back for a short period of time, I walked down the steep slope in order to find the rest of the group a way down, and I managed to do so by moonlight. Due to the dark, the group headed down the slope one at a time, which ended up taking a while. I don’t quite recall the time at this point.
After we were all down the slope, Jason pulled a miracle for us. With his GPS, he led us to the Sentinel Bay huts and to safety. Time of arrival: 11:15. 14 hours after leaving Red Heather, we were in shelters at Garibaldi Lake.
The two shelters slept nine people combined, allowing for all of us to be able to have a place to sleep for the night without resorting to cuddling inside two 2man tents.
One of the huts that we stayed in
Marie and Amin inside one of the shelters
After boiling water for the next hour and a half, we settled into a comfortable sleep for the night.
The next morning we planned to take the day at a leisurely pace. After waking up at 9:30, we packed up and the skiers decided to do a run down the surrounding slopes, while Jason looked for his friend’s missing skin.
Some views around the huts
Above Sentinel bay
Afterward, at around 1:00PM, we decided to head out across the lake. The sun was very much happy to rain down solar hellfire on us while we trekked for the next hour or so.
Starting off on the long walk. Black Tusk in the backdrop
After crossing the lake, we took a short rest for water and grouping up before heading down the trail.
Byebye Garibaldi lake!
We proceeded to head down to the parking lot through the trees. Most of the early section was easy to ski for the group, while I happily followed behind in snowshoes. That is, until the dreaded Taylor Meadows switchbacks. The pace slowed at this point, but we kept on going down. Light was quickly fading here, and when the rear echelon comprising of Diego, Marie-Eve, Rishi and I reached around the 2.5km mark from the parking lot, it was necessary to put on headlamps. The three skiers would soon have to bootpack it the rest of the way, so I dashed on ahead to make it to the cars. I reached Amin’s vehicle on garibaldi park road at around 9:00PM, with the rest of the group making it there at 9:45PM. After shaking the forest with many many decibels of “Neve!”, we settled into the cars and took the long leisurely drive back to Vancouver.