By: Natalie Makepeace
Crew = Roland, Artem, Lianne, Genevieve, Gesa, Sarah, Alexis & Natalie
In short - we drove up Friday and spent Saturday-Monday up there scrambling and working on the new outhouse hole. Best scramble was the “direct East Ridge” of Aragon. The classic P – Frodo and Gandalf- Aragon were also enjoyed. The Outhouse hole was very popular but was (and still at this point in time) a complete boulder field..not easy digging! Work is still needed to be done butbe careful as we saw a brown bear on the way up and on the way down while we were hiking on the logging road.
The Drive (Friday)
As with many of my trips begin, this trip was very last minute. I found out at work Friday afternoon that I needed to be in Squamish by 530 in order catch a lift with Artem and meet Roland at the logging road for a free shuttle by the 9PM cut-off. Long story short, I got off work at 3pm and made it to Squamish only because Artem and his car load waited for me at the Walmart.
Everything seemed so chaotic and rushed but as soon as we felt we had a chance to breath again (as in we were okay for time) we decide to get dinner at the Pemberton McDonalds…bad idea, don’t do it, did I mention it was a long weekend? That place was a nightmare and after waiting in both the inside and drive through line ups we ditched it and went for the attached Robins and ended up with some donuts and questionable egg McRobins?
To speed things up we ended up making the shuttle with Roland, always amusing rides with that one. I liked his comment about washing his car in a town they drove past earlier that said it was only in water restriction 1. Anyways we set up camp at the trailhead, ate some “distressed” cake and headed off the next morning. I quite liked this group because we had time to enjoy coffee in the am.
The First Day- The Hike Up
As this was a work hike we had to all do our share of carrying up tools and what not. However I must note that Artem gets MVP for carrying up the 7 foot long door frames, I guess its similar to boot packing your skis but without the reward. Leinne as well for getting vicious with the loppers, she put her fine landscaping skills to work!
Now anybody who has been to Phelix before knows how breathtaking the hut is when you come out of the trees at the end of the long lake, it just screams home to me even though I am just a visitor. However, with that being said, right when I arrived I could not wait to leave- to go gallivanting that is.
My apologies that I ended up leading Lianne, Gen and Gesa to the popular Gandalf-Aragorn trail and away from “work work” but I am pretty sure everybody was happy at the end of the day. I was also especially happy that we did that hike practically right away because camp sure as hell got busy while we were gone, there was a tent city in Phelix by the time we came back (did I mention this was a long weekend). Any-who, the two summits were excellent. We were defeated by the famous Gandalf Pillar that some people wish to climb to the top of, but neither of us was feeling like risking it that day.
We had fun taking lots of pictures up there but only fun until that final bush bash on the way down to the hut. It was very hard for me not to take the loppers when we got we got back and have at it. However when we got back I picked up a new task… The quest to dig the new outhouse whole.
After a group meeting about the location of the new outhouse we decided to start digging around the territory of the previous outhouse because if we found the old outhouse hole it be “easy digging”. I took the first wack at it while the others enjoyed dinner. It is so much fun and addicting digging in hard packed rock because when you get it one out you must continue to get the next out (kinda like climbing mountains, climb one and then you want to do the next one and the next and the next). I enjoyed Sarah’s little visits now and then, she really wanted to know if I found old poop. Anyways I did eventually find the old poop. I reported back that I had good news and I had bad news- good news I found the old hole. Bad news, it has not decomposed. Yup, that’s right, we ended up digging pure soggy sh*t. I think my favorite quote of the trip happened when I got to a point of odor exhaustion and starting being quite a “potty mouth” cursing and swearing about all the poop while all of a sudden new campers came around the corner and were a bit afraid and all I could say was “ Oh, Welcome to Phelix”. The sad news after all that was we could not go through with it. A BOULDER far to big to move was in the way. So we let the night arrive and woke up late the next morning.
The Second Day- Sunday Funday.
We slept in and declared it a work day…well a work day for most but I wanted t do a hike/dig day again and decide Paraguan/Frodo would be a nice quickie. I tried to get route guidance from Roland but because quickly frustrated as he refused (in his Roland way) to share with me this information and declared that “If you don’t know the route then it’s a first assent”. I was frustrated so I just packed my mini bag and headed for cabin hill to see if I could get to Paraguan from there. Although I was mad at the time that Roland didn’t tell me what way to go I was SO happy he didn’t because figuring it out on my own and having all that space south of cabin hill up to Paraguan to myself was the best.
Even without knowing the route it was still a quickie so when I got back to the hut I was able to relieve the hard pressed Artem and Gen from their digging. Well I had some lovely afternoon tea and then relieved them from their digging.
Four hours, and possibly five more years of poop, later it was time to finish the day off with amazing cabin style fondue galore, a couple of my fortified beverages mixes, dinner and bed. Oh! and pre-packing for tomorrows adventure of course. Artem started the trip off in mind of doing the East ridge of Aragon at some point, it sounded very exposed but it also sounded super awesome so an early morning it would be.
Monday – East Ridge Day / Home
Well no alpine start, but just a basic 6am wake up with some coffee time and planned to have our discharges on the way.
It was a stellar morning, the temperature was perfectly fresh, skies were clear and just waking up enough to make everything glisten and we were ready for the day. I think we were all feeling mighty confident until we got to actually look at the east ridge of Aragon. Basically…it was a full on rock climb. Straight vertical cliff was what we were looking at, so we knew that couldn’t possibly be right so we planned to head along the right of the lake to get on the early east ridge, cross the large boulders until we hit the col.
Best part of my day was climbing along the large granite boulders on the early ridge but eventually the fun had to come to an end with a short dirty scree traverse and then we were properly ascending the East Ridge.
That first part after the scree was very dicey to me. The rock was not to be trusted, the flakes were hollow and the boulders were mostly large and loose. I moved slowly but my heart was pounding as if I was sprinting a 500m. I don’t think the others had a hard time with it but I was feeling on edge. After that dicey bit we came to a rock gully where we saw a cairn and realized “Oh, that’s how you are supposed to start”. So I guess that is where Artem got the name for the “Direct East Ridge”.
After that the rock was great, we called it a class 3+ (if that’s aloud). I find myself some great little chimneys and a bunch of other fun stuff to climb. When we reached the top I think I can speak for everyone that we felt Fan-tas-tic! Such a victory!
We spend a good amount of time playing around up there but the first thing Artem did was destroy the booster steps up the Aragon boulder and then without effort climbed to the top of it and watched us girls claw at it ad not make it up. Leinne was so close but just needed to work on her “beach whale” moves a bit more
Anyways, that was definitely the climax of the trip. We headed back down to clean up camp and head out.
As I noted before that I thought my heart was racing scrambling up to Aragon it did not compare to the intensity to what happened on the way down the logging road. While I was walking with Leinne and Gen we 99% heard a bear in the bush besides the logging road. Startled as we were Leinne and I stopped and yelled at Gen but obviously she could not hear us and I ordered Leinne not to run for her. She seemed to be in the best position because the bear stayed by us while she casually walked away from it. We were not happy and felt very unequipped so I just grabbed a big stick and acted big and prayed that Artem was gonna come so at least we could use his loppers as a weapon…typically Natalie thing to do, fight off a bear with loppers…great idea :p. Anyway, Artme caught up to us and we just stomped away being as loud as we could.
Safe and sound we got back to the car. Pretty tired we just wanted to get outa there and onto the highway.
We were making great time and seemed like everything was going smoothly until….Traffic. Did I mention it was a long weekend?
There was a crash near Brohm Lake and we just hit a stay still outside of Whistler. It took us 3.5hrs to get back to Squamish. Disgusting, my worst nightmare as I do not have the patience to sit in cars any longer than I have to. But props to A for sitting behind the wheel the entire time!! He defiantly got an extra driving tip from me!
Even with a kinda slummy end due to the drive back home it was still an awesome weekend. And as I always say it doesn’t matter what time or how tired I am when I get home I always have my wine-shower-photo trio and that is how I finished my long weekend, a big glass of red, a highly pressured shower and an hour looking at photos.
Thank VOC for letting me come!