Powder Mountain Traverse

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Powder Mountain is located West of the Callaghan Valley, and North of the Alcoholic Divide. The plan is to start from Callaghan Lake (good 2wd parking) and traverse on trails across the valley bottom to Conflict Lake and then up into the alpine at Ring Lake. From there it's all open alpine and glaciers up around Powder Mountain and over to Brandywine, where we'll take the "standard route" back down from Brandywine. Total of 33km and 2000m elevation gain.

If you've been on a few trips, perhaps nothing too serious, but are reasonably fit (or at least very tough) and own (or can borrow - maybe from the club) the gear you need, this is the trip for you. If you're wondering whether or not this is the trip for you, go ahead and email the organizer or better yet post on the message board, as other people might have the same question. The idea is for the trip to be pretty cool without requiring absolutely everybody have special skills and experience.

Google Map of the route

Printable JPG map

Google Map driving directions - we'll meet at the Brandywine FSR lower parking lot. Early cars will leave Vancouver at 6:30, late cars at 7:00. This assumes you are not stopping anything other than gas. If you want to stop for Tim Hortons, leave appropriately earlier.


The Powder Mountain Traverse appeared as the 2010 "Veenstra Moderate Friendly Summer Traverse" See the Message Board Post for details and a TR.



Although there are many hazards, the large amount of glacier travel involved in this trip will make that the primary concern.

This trip could end up being dead easy, or difficult enough we must turn around - it all depends on the glacier. Ideally, it will be bare ice flat as a pancake and we'll have no trouble. It could also be hard blue ice, with loads of crevasses and ice fins everywhere making travel impossible. We'll have to see. Even without crevasses ice itself is a hazard, as if the terrain is steep and you fall over stopping may be impossible. Definitely you will need crampons which fit your boots in order to travel safely.

On a glacier snow is a mixed blessing - since it covers up the crevasses. This can be good since it lets you travel over them, sometimes without even knowing they're there. If can also be bad, because the snow may collapse suddenly and you fall into a crevasse. The normal solution is to 'rope up' where you tie yourself together with your climbing partners so if you fall in your friends stop you from hitting the bottom. It's also a good idea to take off your crampons, if your boots are stiff enough to walk on the snow without them, since they can catch the sides of a crevasse and break your ankle. If we must travel on snow we'll rely on the 'huge rope team arrest' idea. By making really large rope teams no finely tuned skills are required in the event of a crevasse fall - just rely on the extra weight. This does mean that we'll have to avoid steep snowy terrain, but probably we should be doing that anyway.


This trip will involve what's often called "General Mountaineering" - the sort of stuff you learn at Glacier School. Most of these skills are actually quite simple, but could have fatal consequences if done incorrectly. If you're asked to do something, or see everybody else doing it, (like put on a harness, rappel, rope up, put on crampons - anything) and you're not absolutely sure that you know how to do it speak up and ask for help. Seriously - stopping to ask for help is OK, putting yourself and everybody else in danger because you're not sure about what you're doing is not.

If you do something incorrectly it may be too late before your error gets noticed. You are responsible for your own safety.


We'll be sleeping somewhere... possibly on a glacier, but hopefully we find a scrap of rock. We'll need tents, or maybe we'll sleep under the stars (could be dewy). A sleeping bag and pad are needed, and they should be reasonably warm. In summer it can be really warm during the day, but will be cold at night if it's clear (below 0C).

Likely it will also be hot, and quite sunny - so suncreen, sunglasses, a hat and a bandanna are a really good idea. On snowy terrain it is possible to go completely snow-blind in a weekend without sunglasses.

We're also bringing some glacier kit. Enough rambling - it's listed below, might get updated as we get closer to the date.

Other stuff includes (list reserves the right to be amended):


  • 1 set of non-cotton clothes (just the one on your back)
  • A nice light breathable softshell (maybe has a little insulation)
  • toque (best warmth/weight ratio going for clothing)
  • gloves
  • boots (good, sturdy, boots. Note that mountaineering boots are different and far superior on snow compared to hiking boots)
  • sun hat
  • gaiters


  • Tarps, hopefully - tents are heavy
  • sleeping bag (a summer bag is probably good, depending how warm you think you sleep. 0C or warmer)
  • full length sleeping pad


  • Burly container / outer bag for carrying poo bags
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • lip balm
  • sunglasses
  • camera
  • bug net (works way better than bug juice, plus it doesn't wreck the environment or your stuff)
  • Toilet Paper
  • Poo bags (will be provided)
  • Toothbrush
  • Lighter
  • Bearspray (optional - with such a large, probably noisy, group I'd be highly surprised if any self-respecting bear would go anywhere near us)


The absolute minimum:

  • ice axe (the lightest you can find)
  • crampons (which fit boots! Test beforehand! Really - figure out how to put the crampons on before the trip)
  • climbing harness
  • locking 'biner
  • helmet
  • NOTE: boots are listed separately under "clothes" - but might well be considered "gear". The VOC lends out sturdy boots if you need them.

If you know how to use them you may also wish to bring:

  • rope (or be one of 6 friends with someone who has one)
  • a few prussiks and extra biners
  • webbing
  • ice screw and hooker for making V-thread

Maybe nice:

  • ski/trekking poles (poles are highly awesome for hiking. I can't recommend bringing poles enough)


  • stove + pot + fuel + lighter (or be friendly)
  • Plastic thing to eat out of (old yogurt container? Or something fancier)
  • spoon
  • Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch - remember you'll be on the move all day, so bring extra lunch for Sunday. Eat extra breakfast (which you then don't have to carry on your back) before heading out Saturday morning.
    • Most people can eat somewhat under 1kg of food per day (we're talking dehydrated food - no heavy water). Veenstra eats way more than most people and usually brings 250grams/breakfast, 400-500grams/lunch+snacks, 250-350grams/dinner+dessert.
  • Water (ability to carry 2-3L, depending on your size).
  • Water purifier drops/tabs (optional)


(some things might be worth their extra weight, including):

  • songbook
  • 1 pair extra socks
  • down slippers for camp


And a pack to put it all in. Remember - stuff is heavy, so don't bring too much stuff! If you show up with a pack larger than 50L, the organizer will tear it apart in the parking lot looking for extra weight.


We’ll need a variety of different kinds of people to make this trip happen. Mostly we’ll need:

  • People who can get up earlier than everybody else and do a car shuttle, preferably a couple 4wds. Ideally we leave 1 getaway car for every 5 drivers, and if we can leave 4wd it will save time later in the trip.
  • People who can drive, still getting up pretty early (although not quite as early as the shuttlers) whisking us safely in between the city and the mountains.
  • People who know things about glaciers, preferably who also bring their own ropes. Ideally we’d have 2 of these people per rope... but maybe we’ll have to be satisfied with fewer.
  • People who own tents, and people who own stoves, and are willing to share
  • Keen people who’ve never been on a glacier before to remind us old timers of the magic and wonder we might not feel ourselves anymore, just from being on a glacier.
  • Attractive young ladies, to keep our spirits high
  • Attractive young men, because ladies don’t do it for everybody

Pretrip Meeting Agenda

  1. Plan + Questions
  2. Sort out "interested" from "actually coming"
  3. Car faff
  4. Tent+Food faff
  5. Gear hours