Archive:Sphinx Camp 2010

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Stop hand.png Old Trip
This is the sign up and organization page for an old trip. It already happened. Please do not sign up for it.


Back in the day, the VOC used to swarm up to Sphinx Bay for their annual Spring Ski Camp - this generally happened during exams, but it was a large event, often involving food drops by aeroplane to extend the party. We even built the Burton Hut up there. More recently it seems that we havn't quite been sure whether or not Garibaldi Lake is frozen during exams - so let's do it during Reading Break. The VOC is often hanging out around Sphinx Bay anyway, this should just help people get together.

Hopefully this page is used for a lot of organizing, but it may help to read the message board thread as well. That's also a good place to ask questions, since then everybody can benefit from the answers.

A fair amount of the organization, and a slideshow about ski mountaineering in Sphinx Bay the Wednesday before the break, will be done by Veenstra. There's a fair bit of beta here, and also a map which he painstakingly put together to help you figure out what there is to do up there.

But won't the Olympics ruin everything?

No. There will be a checkpoint for Northbound Sea-to-Sky traffic at Alice Lake from 6am-6pm, but other than that we're fine. You have 2 options:

  • Travel up there outside these times - like leaving Vancouver at 4am, or driving up the night before planning to pass the checkpoint after 6pm.
  • Ski in over the Garibaldi Neve from Diamond Head - that trailhead does not involve crossing the checkpoint.
  • Get one of the Olympic Sea-to-Sky passes so you can get through the road block. The VOC has 10 to service our 4 huts, and advertised club trips (like this one) get priority.

What should I do there?

We picked Sphinx Bay for a reason - it has some of the best ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing opportunities around.

Check out this map:

Peak Bagging

There are a lot of really sweet peaks around. Counter-clockwise along the top of the massive glaciated bowl topped with granite and volcanic cliffs and peaks we have:

Guard Mountain (2177m)

A stiff scramble in summer, it will seem much harder in winter trust me.

The Deception Pinnacles (2233m)

Usually a short scramble / climb (depending on the pinnacle) on one side, and ski-able on the other due to wind packed snow. Some are a stiff scramble / climb on all sides. The deception part is figuring out which is the tallest (HINT: the one closest to Guard).

The Sphinx (2402m)

The Sphinx dominates the terrain in the area, and gives it it's name. The steep rock face is the head of the beast, and the glaciers its paws.

The route up from Sphinx pass (the pass between the Sphinx and Deception) is a nice moderate line (just one hard ~30m step). The route from the other side is an alpine classic rock route.

The Bookworms (2331m)

20m pinnacles poking up out of the cirque overlooking Sphinx Bay.

Depending who you believe these were either named in honour of old VOCers who couldn't make it away from their studies to enjoy the skiing in the area, or those same old VOCers - turned to stone for the same reason and left looking over that skiing they just couldn't make time for.

4th class, apparently, although Veenstra has been known to try and aid up them in a blizzard only to be convinced by his party that the turnaround time had passed.

Mount Carr (2590m)

The face pointing towards Sphinx Bay and the Bookworms is quite exciting, but skiing/scrambling up from the backside is easier.

Phyllis' Engine (2530m)

This rock tower resembles a train engine, and at 5.8 you'd have to be pretty hard to climb it in the winter. There is a pass beside it which gives access to the backside of the cirque and is a good approach for Carr, Castle Towers East and beyond.

Castle Towers (2676m)

A triple-summit - The Westernmost is a moderate scramble from the west, the True (centre) summit is apparently 1m taller than Garibaldi and can be climbed (in winter) via the couloir between it and the Westernmost and a short low 5th step, the Easternmost is a ski-ascent from the East.

Yo-yo skiing

No, that's not a peak, but it is an option if peak bagging isn't your thing. To get you started the best ski-up is directly up the Sphinx Glacier - nice 25 degree or so slope all the way with little avi hazard, then take a run either back down it or cross over near Deception and take a ~2300 foot north facing run back down to the bottom of the valley. There are other options, of course, but that's enough to get anybody started.

Snow caves and lounging in the sun

Yes, you can do that too.


Much like Mountaineering Camp or New Years at Phelix, we're hoping that people will basically take care of themselves - organizing themselves into smaller groups doing trips in and around the camp. Indicate here when you'll be arriving and leaving to help coordinate use. Also, if you'd like to lead a trip as part of the camp throw that in here under a sub-section and indicate what you'd like to do and when.

Hopefully we'll reach critical mass at some point, get lots of people up there, and have ourselves a great time stretched out over many days with different groups arriving and departing at different times.

It should be noted that the hut sleeps 12 although up to 16 have been known to fit in there at the same time. Tents work too, as do snowcaves. The embankment near the hut is probably a good place for snowcaves, and if many people are using them we could just leave them assembled.


  • 18th, Thursday

  • 19th, Friday
  1. Veenstra (skiing, probably over the Neve unless car swap appears, willing to take some with us)
  2. Line (skiing, probably over the Neve unless car swap appears, willing to take some with us)
  3. Nick M (skiing, likes the idea of the Neve and would appreciate a ride)
  4. Mike Duncan (excited to ski, I have access to a 4x4 truck)
  5. Lisa Pittl (skiing, would like to cross the Neve at least once, would need a ride as well)
  6. Julian Reiter
  7. Phil (skiing, would like to cross the Neve in at least one direction)
  8. Jonathan Desautels (excited about the trip, have van 6 passengers)
  9. Anton B. (stoked!)
  10. Hannes (like to cross the Neve, need a ride)
  11. Philippe Lebillon(skiing, interest for neve, may have a car)
  12. Artem Bylinskii (skiing, climb Garibaldi while crossing the neve?)
  13. Mohammad M (skiing, would like to cross the Neve
  14. Steve Mullen (Skiing, mountaineering, Neve... it all sounds good)
  15. Bradley Ward (ski mountaineering!)
  16. Olivier Thommen (skiing, interest for Neve, 3 seasons tent if needed, needs a ride)
  17. Skyler D. (skiing, me and Ryan V. interested in doing Neve but only with guides, could do one way only)
  18. Ryan V. (skiing, has car, AST-1, 4 season tent)
  19. Todd Mackenzie (would rather snowshoe over the barrier than ski)
  20. Adrien T (Coming in late)
  21. Champagne (skiing up with the Veenstra)
  22. Andy Reddin (snowshoeing with Todd)
  • 20th, Saturday
  1. Veenstra (Instructing for Intro to Ski Mountaineering)
  2. Line (Instructing for Intro to Ski Mountaineering)
  3. Nick M (Carr and Deception)
  4. Mike Duncan (definitely interested in ski mountaineering, some mountaineering experience and AST-1)
  5. Lisa Pittl (Interested in ski mountaineering, ski touring experience, Austrian avi course)
  6. Julian Reiter(Interested in ski mountaineering, ski touring experience, Austrian avi course)
  7. Phil (interested in the intro to ski mountaineering dealy)
  8. Jonathan Desautels(excited about the trip, have van 6 passengers)
  9. Anton B. (ski mountaineering interest, AST1)
  10. Hannes (some ski mountaineering experience, interested in peaks)
  11. Philippe Lebillon (interested in ski moutaineering, AST-1)
  12. Artem Bylinskii (ski mountaineering)
  13. Mohammad M (skiing, would like to cross the Neve)
  14. Steve Mullen (Skiing, mountaineering, Neve... it all sounds good)
  15. Bradley Ward (Ski Mountaineering!)
  16. Olivier Thommen (skiing, interest for Neve, 3 seasons tent if needed, needs a ride)
  17. Skyler D. (Peak bagging with group, I'm a competent skier (with AT gear), but would like mountaineering instruction)
  18. Ryan V. (Peak bagging or yo-yoing with group)
  19. Todd Mackenzie (AST-1, interested in snowshoe mountaineering)
  20. Adrien T (Snowshoe Mountaineering)
  21. Champagne (Peak bagging w/ Lisa's group)
  22. Andy Reddin (snowshoeing with Todd)
  • 21st, Sunday
  1. Veenstra (skiing out, back over the Neve unless somebody appears who wants to car-swap)
  2. Line (skiing out, back over the Neve unless somebody appears who wants to car-swap)
  3. Nick M (skiing out)
  4. Mike Duncan (skiing out, I guess, or could go longer if people are interested)
  5. Lisa Pittl(skiing out, willing to cross the Neve again)
  6. Julian Reiter (skiing out, willing to cross the Neve again)
  7. Phil (skiing out, likely very slowly)
  8. Jonathan Desautels (excited about the trip, have van 6 passengers)
  9. Anton "Stoked" B.
  10. Hannes Fugmann(skiing all day)
  11. Philippe Lebillon (skiing out across the Neve if necessary)
  12. Artem Bylinskii (skiing out whichever way)
  13. Mohammad M (skiing, would like to cross the Neve)
  14. Steve Mullen (Skiing, mountaineering, Neve... it all sounds good)
  15. Brad Ward (Ski Mountaineering!)
  16. Olivier Thommen (skiing, interest for Neve, 3 seasons tent if needed, needs a ride)
  17. Skyler D. (skiing out, maybe over neve, maybe car swap)
  18. Ryan V. (skiing out, maybe over neve, maybe car swap)
  19. Todd Mackenzie (heading out on snowshoes)
  20. Adrien T (Going home with snowshoes)
  21. Champagne (skiing out w/ the Veenstras)
  22. Andy Reddin (snowshoeing out with Todd)

  • 22nd, Monday
  1. Hannes (ski out, hopefully not alone)
  2. Anne (Ski out, Neve)
  3. Champagne (Ski out, Neve)
  4. Jonathan Desautels

  • 23rd, Tuesday

  • 24th, Wednesday

  • 25th, Thursday

  • ...

Intro to Ski Mountaineering

Synopsis (aka - read this section carefully if you're confused as to how it all works)

There's a lot of groups skiing in to Sphinx Bay Friday the 19th, bagging a peak Saturday, and skiing out Sunday to be back in Vancouver either Sunday night or some time Monday. "Skiing In" and "Skiing Out" may or may not involve a Neve crossing, depending what you want to do. Check out all the different groups below, and feel free to indicate your interest on their signup lists. If you're just interested in skiing in and out via Rubble Creek and generally "hanging out" then you probably don't need to associate yourself with any of the groups here (although perhaps you could create your own group to gauge interest). If you're interested in doing something not listed here that's great, and feel free to create a group to help you gauge interest.

As always, indicating interest on the internet doesn't guarantee you make it to the top of the mountain, what ends up happening in real life will depend on a variety of things, including weather, but especially whether or not you've communicated with the leader of the group and come to the pre-trip meeting to indicate you're more than just a name from the internet. Lots of people email/wiki, but it's those who come to the pre-trip who generally make it out on trips.

Pre-trip meeting

Date: Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: VOC clubroom

The pre-trip meeting will be Wednesday before the trip, 6pm, in the clubroom. It's not mandatory - in the sense that if you've got a ride/full car, want to be an independent group (ie - not one of the groups listed here), know what you plan to do up there, and are bringing a tent then just let me know about it and I'll see you up in Sphinx Bay. If you're not totally sorted out and independent then you'd better come on out to the pre-trip, or get someone to represent you.


Although there may be some variation, for all these groups you should probably have all the skiing gear, and also:

  • Harness
  • Big locking 'biner
  • Ice axe
  • Helmet
  • 2 prussiks, 2 more lockers and a long sling/webbing if you know what to do with them, or want to learn.

And probably it would be good to also have a tent, or at least have some idea where you're sleeping. We can't fit this many people in the hut, even if we don't allow packs inside (which we won't).


Veenstra's Crew

I'm hoping to go up the North (South facing) side of the bowl and cross the gap near Phyllis's Engine to climb the East Summit of Castle Towers, then backtrack over to follow Nick's tracks to climb Carr and drop off the West Face to ski over to the Bookworms, after climbing the tallest Worm (will probably involve some aid climbing) I'd like to try and ski across the top of the bowl and cross under the Sphinx to climb Deception and ski down the rad snow awaiting on the South (North facing) side of the bowl. If time allows, we can try and climb the Sphinx too (ha ha ha...). A long day, but there's plenty of opportunity to bail and ski back down to the hut.

Not more than 8, and you should more-or-less know what you're doing, but be keen on getting together and suffering for a long time. You can indicate interest here, if you like. This is happening Saturday.

  1. Veenstra
  2. Line
  3. Mike D (done mountaineering, but not ski mountaineering)
  4. Phil (nil experience)
  5. Jonathan (not really done ski mountaineering but excited to learn)
  6. Anton B.
  7. Hannes (done some ski mountaineering)
  8. Philippe (very little experience, small peak near Wedge)
  9. Artem Bylinskii (some mountaineering experience, but not on skis)
  10. Steve Mullen
  11. Brad Ward
  12. Olivier Thommen (summer glacier mountaineering experience)

Maybe some more people will step forward in a quasi-leadership role? Email Veenstra if you think you need to be convinced of your own ability to do so.

Todd's Intrepid Snowshoers

Interested to climb the Sphinx with Snowshoes? Todd is interested too. You can indicate your interest here, this is happening Saturday.

The Sphinx is probably the hardest non-technical thing to do in the area, and should be a really sweet objective. What does "non-technical" mean? Good question... maybe it means the hardest thing you'd want to try without bringing rock protection? Other people's opinions may differ, especially depending on conditions.

Please bring the following gear to join us:

  • snowshoes
  • ice axe
  • crampons
  • helmet
  • harness
  • locking biner and belay device
  • two prussics
  • avy beacon, shovel and probe


  1. Todd Mackenzie
  2. Adrien T
  3. Andy Reddin
  4. Jonathan Desautels (got a van, 5 or 6 passengers including me, depending of the amount of gear)

Lisa's Deception Skiers

  • Target: Deception Peak (2233m)
  • Date: Saturday, February 20th
  • Participants (max): 6

Lisa is keen to get some people climbing up Deception. You should more-or-less know what you're doing, but be keen on getting together and having some fun. You can indicate interest here, if you like.

At the moment it looks like we'll all head up to the hut and discuss saturday's destination on friday night!

Veenstra says: Up the Sphinx Glacier, crossing over the Deception ridge at about 2100m to summit it from the West, then skiing back down the Deception glacier is, I think, the best thing to do up there... I've just done it too many times myself. The Sphinx Glacier is super-mellow at about 25 degrees with few crevasses, the Deception Pinnacles are just plain fun as there's a cluster all close to each other, (it's not quite clear which is tallest so you climb them all), and the 700m ski back down the North-facing crevasse free Deception Glacier is just awesome. Sheltered from both sun and wind, it's reliably powder skiing (vulnerable only to rain) for the bottom 600m or so. It's usually awesome skiing the whole way, and I've never had it anything other than top-notch for the bottom 600m


  1. Lisa
  2. Julian
  3. Phil

Nick's Carr Skiers

Nick is keen to get a small group going to climb Carr. Probably this will involve sharing trail breaking with Veenstra's crew and then splitting off near the top of the bowl. Carr has amazing views, and is moderately difficult but not too hard, with probably no technical climbing. Some effort will likely be made to traverse over to the more sheltered North facing half of the bowl for the ski down, depending on what the snow seems like going up. You can indicate interest here, if you like. This is happening Saturday.

  1. Nick M
  2. Skyler D (not much technical mountaineering experience, but I'm a solid skier and I enjoy pain, will this be reasonable?)

Neve Crossing N-S Sunday

Neve crossing will depend on car-swapping logistics. If you're just interested in the Neve, feel free to ski in to the hut Saturday while we're peak bagging. This group was initially advertised by Veenstra.

  1. Mike D
  2. Lisa
  3. Julian
  4. Phil - interested but apprehensive
  5. Jonathan
  6. Hannes
  7. Philippe
  8. Artem
  9. Mohammad M
  10. Steve Mullen
  11. Brad Ward
  12. Olivier Thommen
  13. Skyler D

Neve Crossing S-N Friday

Actually, Thursday night. The plan is to drive up Thursday night, then ski a bit and ninja-camp in the Red Heather shelter or maybe Elfin depending on energy levels. Friday we'll ski across the Neve, planning to arrive at the hut a few hours after the people who drove up Friday and skiied up the Barrier, but really hoping just to arrive before dark. Peak bagging Saturday with the rest of them. This will allow us to either ski down casually on Sunday with "the broken people", or get up early to bag some more peaks before skiing down in a hurry. We can then drive the cars from the other group back over to the Diamond Head carpark to retrieve our own vehicles and leave theirs.

I'm somewhat keen to try and dick around with my kite on this adventure... but probably that doesn't affect anything other than the weight of my pack.

  1. Veenstra
  2. Line
  3. Nick M (Likes the idea of getting out Thursday for added time away from school)
  4. Philippe
  5. Muffin

At the pre-trip

Piotr's Crew

In: Thursday night - Barrier
Out: Sunday - Barrier (Piotr)
Monday - Neve (Rest of crew)
(Not staying at hut)
Pass: #1044653

  1. Hannes
  2. Champagne
  3. Anne
  4. Doris
  5. Piotr

Veenstra's Crew

In: Thursday night - Neve
Out: Sunday - Barrier
Pass: #1044649

  1. Veenstra
  2. Line
  3. Muffin
  4. Nick
  5. Philippe

Jonathan's Car

In: Friday - Barrier
Out: Monday - Neve or Barrier
(Taking Piotr's people out)
Pass: #1044651

  1. Jonathan Desautels
  2. Phill T
  3. Mohammad

Anton's Car

In: Friday - Barrier
Out: Sunday - Neve
Pass: #1044655

  1. Anton
  2. Bradley
  3. Artem

Mike's truck

In: Friday - Barrier
Out: Sunday - Neve
Pass: #1044650

  1. Mike
  2. Skylar
  3. Olivier
  4. Julian
  5. Lisa

Ryan's vehicle

In: Friday - Barrier
Out: Sunday - Barrier
Pass: #1044654

  1. Ryan
  2. Todd
  3. Andy
  4. Adrian
  5. Lenn