While everybody else was at Rock Party, Emily, Joe, and I went on an overnight trip to scramble Mt Marriott. Nobody on this trip was really into taking photos, so as the single Arts student on the trip (and perhaps in the entire VOC?) I was nominated to both write a trip report and illustrate it, which has turned out to be an excellent way to both procrastinate on school work and stave off post-trip depression.
I suppose we shall start with our Breka stop before leaving Vancouver on Saturday morning. My attempt at parking was abysmal and I am probably never going to hear the end of it.
The drive was smooth until we got on to the FSR, at which point it got very bumpy. Going up and down the Brandywine FSR in Jeff Mottershead’s car at the G1 the previous weekend had been quite a revelation in how much fun FSRs at high speed can be. Channeling Jeff, I rocketed up the FSR as fast as I dared. On the way up we passed a group of backpackers, who looked on with various expressions of shock, horror, and perhaps admiration?
We made it to the trailhead, where it took me about ten minutes to ease into a spot between a truck, a fake Jeep, and a boulder. While we were getting ready, a group of day hikers with a massive assortment of dogs started up the trail. Among the dogs was a pug named Wonton.
The start of the trail was muddy, though not as muddy as the previous weekend’s excursion to Tricouni Peak. The trail quickly climbed up out of the thick forest, reaching a valley with the first of many lovely, clear blue lakes at the bottom. Continuing up the valley, another short climb brought us to the ACC’s Wendy Thompson hut, where we ate lunch. I think this was when we had a discussion about what dachshunds would look like if dog breeders had decided to make a short dog instead of a long dog.
Past the hut, a route well-marked by pink flagging and cairns leads up a tree-covered slope, through a granite boulder field, and past a small waterfall to a gorgeous lake surrounded by granite slopes. Matt Gunn’s Scrambles in SW BC indicated that there were a few campsites here and we found a perfect one on the side of the lake.
By the time the tent was set up, it was only 2:30pm, so we decided to try for the peak that afternoon. Shouldering our much lighter packs, we walked into the mouth of the “mini valley” from which the streams that fed our lake originated, described by Gunn. Then we had to climb up the head of the valley to gain the ridge. The book says the best path is up some slabs and scree on the left side, but a VOC trip report from 2019 said that shooting up the center was a better route, so we followed their advice. It was mostly steep, loose, dusty, 2-steps-forward, 1-step-back sort of terrain, which was annoying but not difficult to ascend. The top of the ridge rewarded us with beautiful views of the Joffre area, but we didn’t stop long to admire it. We scrambled/hiked up the ridge following cairns, contoured around a small peak, and descended to a col on the other side between the small peak and Marriott.
What followed was a tour of the multiple false summits of Mt Marriott. Behind each rocky point we reached was another, and another, and another, until finally to our relief we spotted a peak with a giant cairn on top. The scramble wasn’t particularly difficult, technical, or exposed at any point, but it was long. I recommend to parties that climb this peak in the future to stick to the cairn-marked routes that contour below the ridgeline until the real summit comes into view, instead of climbing up to each sub-summit!
But when you finally get there, the views are spectacular! The Joffe group and its intimidating glaciers were right in your face, and in the opposite direction was Birkenhead Lake, with tiny boats moving along its surface. Uncountable peaks spread out in every direction.
Once Joe managed to open the ridiculously inflated bag, we chowed on his BBQ potato chips, and then signed the summit register which was tucked inside the cairn. Regrettably, we started our descent–our camping spot was far away and the sun would soon be gone. As the sun sank behind the faraway peaks, the sky put on a beautiful show of colors, and we stopped many times to admire it. At one point we also watched a ptarmigan run across the rock in front of us. Its white winter feathers were mostly grown in, and the long white feathers covering its feet made it look like it was wearing socks! Regrettably, because of the late arrival of snow to the mountains this year, the poor thing has probably been picked off by a predator by now, as its white feathers made it stand out against the bare rocks and dirt.
We paused before descending into the “mini valley” to take in the last of the sunset. At this point we discovered that yelling into the valley from this spot produces long, clear echoes! We messed around with the acoustics for a few minutes.
Instead of descending along the bottom of the mini valley, which was a massive boulder field that would be difficult to navigate in the dark, we decided to walk along the ridge on the side of the valley instead. Traveling along the ridge top was much easier, until we got cliffed out. But it wasn’t too hard to bypass the cliffs through a combination of scrambling, smearing, zigzagging, and becoming one with the pine trees. Below us, the lake reflected the starry sky, providing a beacon to guide us back to our tent.
Carbs in various forms were consumed quickly with very little chewing, followed by a pot of chai and fireball that was consumed much more slowly and enjoyably. The Starlink satellites trooping across the sky contrasted with the erratic shooting stars, against a backdrop of one of the clearest skies I’ve ever seen.
We spent the entire following morning sprawled out on the smooth rock next to the lake. We went for a very brief, numbing swim accompanied by lots of chaotic yelling. Then we lay on the rocks some more. It was pretty great.
Around 2:30 we packed up and walked back to the car, stopping to admire the hut on the way. A Subaru Forester with not a single fleck of mud on it anywhere had replaced the fake Jeep parked next to my Outback. We were confused about how clean it was. We were also getting hungry, so we bounced back down the FSR while blasting AC/DC, and eventually found ourselves at the Domino’s in Whistler. We probably made the staff uncomfortable because of our famished staring at the kitchen.
Whistler Village sucks, for the record.
We sat on a bench next to my car to make sure it didn’t get towed because I didn’t pay for parking, while we inhaled greasy cheesy goodness. We speculated that the lifted Porsche with the roof box that was parked near the Roo belonged to a retired white lawyer from Vancouver and his trophy wife. A few minutes later, we watched a couple who exactly fit this description get into the Porsche, causing us to lose our shit.
It was funnier in the moment. You had to be there.