After a successful Saturday peak-bagging the Howes Sound Crest Trail, Tim Warkentin and I were pretty confident about our fitness levels and were looking for another weekend adventure. Mount Robbie Reid is a classic scramble that had been on my bucket list for years, so I peer-pressured Tim into coming the following weekend. The mountain rises 2000 metres from the shores of both Allouette and Stave Lake to overlook the Fraser valley from Golden Ears. A prominent feature visible all across the valley and identifiable from almost any mountain in SW BC on a clear day, this is certainly an alluring peak.
Only one obstacle stood in our way, a forest service road to access the mountain. Although the road condition sounded not terrible, we had no high clearance vehicle, and Tim had a more adventurous idea anyways: canoe across Allouette lake instead.
Using a canoe built by Tim’s dad, we set off after work on Friday night. Arriving at Allouette lake just after 8pm, we had a 3 hour paddle ahead of us. The canoeing was beautiful, the sun set early on in our voyage, and the pink glow over the mountains faded until bright stars filled the sky. Bats swooped over the lake in front of us as faint outlines of the shore guided our way. Eventually we arrived at the end of the lake, where a large party was underway on one of the beaches disturbing the natural beauty of the place. Not wanting to have our sleeps ruined we went to the East corner of the lake and found an old log cabin meant as “a refuge for mountaineers” according to the sign. Deciding we were what the sign was describing we went inside and ended up pitching the tent in the cabin due to the abundance of mouse droppings inside.
We awoke in the morning to smokey air. After packing things up we hung our bags in the cabin and started our ascent. The trail begins at a reasonable grade before becoming steep. Then when you think it can’t get steeper it quite literally passes 45 degrees and starts becoming almost a scramble even though we were still deep in the forest. This was a sufferfest all the way, and we had doubts about finishing. Both Tim and I were feeling sick, mostly because of the smoke, which dried my mouth and throat more and more as I went. Despite this I pushed us to continue until we reached the tarns on the ridge at the top of the forested section.
Looking up at the mountain face before us, the scrambling looked almost impossible, but as we approached it became less difficult looking. Tim and I got off route quite a ways, scrambling relatively sustained class 4 for a few 100 meters. After gaining the ridge and the first false summit it was a an easy scramble over a few more false summits. On the last false summit before the peak, there is a helipad, weather station, and a metal tower. Tim climbed the ladder to the top of the tower, while I climbed a little over halfway before questioning my life choices and descending. The main summit block where was one last scramble at maybe high 3rd class. on the summit we looked out in excitement to see absolutely no view at all, just smoke in all directions. Even Mount Judge Howay, which sits ominously behind Robbie Reid, was barely visible. We met a couple men on the summit that talked to us about the crux of the scramble in the chimney with the red rope. We knew we had gone a bit off route but had not seen anything remotely like this on our way up. Talking to these guys we determined we had taken a much more difficult path than needed, but it was fun so I have no regrets.
On the way down we decided to look for an easier route, since the down-climbing on our original path up would have been horrendous. We found a path that was almost entirely class 3 or lower, which was much better to descend. Funnily enough we still didn’t encounter any rope. Tim saw a tarn on the way up he dubbed “the infinity tarn”, so of course he had to take a dip on the way down.
The forested section was overgrown and steep as it was on the way up, but we ran down really fast, going off trail a few times because of we were going to fast to look for flagging. We reached the bottom in record time and found a couple of guys camping on the beach who offered us beers as congratulations for our accomplishment. They asked us to sit and recount tales of adventure, but we declined as another 3 hour canoe was ahead of us.
The canoe was relatively uneventful and the Smokey skies weren’t as inspiring as the stars the night before. We reached the shores of the campsite at Allouette lake and carried the canoe out to end our trip.
This whole canoeing and hiking thing has gotten us riled up for some more remote adventures so look out for more to come…