A couple of days ago, I went for a relatively quick jaunt in Southern Strathcona Park to climb Mount Regan and Mount Albert Edward solo. I had a little bit of a vendetta against being alone in the mountains since two weeks prior it hadn’t gone off as well as this trip. Well, I feel much better now as this trip went off pretty easy. I regained my confidence as a solo climber and feel more like a man now. I don’t know if I would do a trip like that again solo or not, the jury’s still out on that one.. At the time I was pretty lonesome but now that I am back home, that feeling feels like a distant memory.
I talked with my super nice boss on Thursday and begged for the time off on Friday. She’s pretty nice and after sending her the link to Environment Canada’s forecast for Comox, she allowed me to go on Friday! :) Conditions are everything and I really just wanted to have success on this trip and the weather for the rest of the weekend didn’t look too hot. So, after work on Thursday I zipped home and packed up a small amount of things for the mountain. The plan was to head out as soon as possible, walk as far as possible (Circlet? Kwai?) that night, and attack Regan the next day, walking out to the car after. I wanted to be fast and light so I only took: a sleeping bag, a tarp for the dew, ice axe, crampons, helmet, down jacket, clothes on my back, headlamp, compass, map, and some finger grubs.
I drove from my doorstep in Victoria to the Forbidden Plateau Parking Lot in 3hrs., only stop was for gas. I arrived at about 9:30pm and the sun was just about set. A quick mouthful of food and I was walking by 9:40pm.
I walked for about 2.5-3hrs. The going was really slow in the dark. The trail was totally melted out up to and a little past Lake Helen-McKenzie. As I was going up the to the col between Mount Brooks and Elma, I lost the trail under snow and darkness. It didn’t matter to much to me, in fact, I was hoping for more snow so that travel would be easier. I got to the top of the col and couldn’t tell where the trail was but I knew the area and just checked the compass and map for a direction to travel. I set off and down from the col with the full moon providing more light than my dinky headlamp.. I walked for about another hour and hit a lake. I was tired and even though I didn’t recognize the lake in the darkness, I figured that here would be a good spot to catch some shut-eye. I think it was about 12:30am and I was tired so I hung the food and curled up into my sleeping bag. The night was a little restless as there was a lot of bright light coming from the full moon but trust me, it was way more beautiful than the photo above!
This photo’s not even retouched or anything. It was really just like that! Thank you Strathcona. I shoveled some granola into my face and had a look at the map. I had just slightly over shot Kwai lake in the dark. It seemed easy to do as this lake (Lake Mariwood) was a lot bigger. In the end, I was really happy that I had ended up here. I had never been to Lake Mariwood, but oh my god, it is SO pretty! I probably shouldn’t be telling the internet this, but it’s even more pretty than Kwai and prolly Circlet.
As I say, I had overshot Kwai Lake last night and wanted to be on track, so I bushwhacked (as I couldn’t find the trail) the 300(+/-) meters up to Kwai. When I got there, I was afforded more amazing lake beauty.
I think I freaked out the 3 girls inside this tent crunching around outside in the snow. They whispered about “the noise outside” and sounded worried. If you’re reading this, sorry for freaking you out!
I followed some of the prints up the standard way but thought that I could take a “short cut” up one of the other gullies. This turned out to be the stupidest move of the whole trip. It wasn’t long before I was cursing myself making sketchy 4th and 5th class moves up a dripping, seeping waterfall-like, near vertical gully. For a moment there, I was worried that the top of which would have no exit route but fortunately, it did. :) It did save me about 20-30mins. but was absolute NOT worth it.. I’m quite sure, no one has ever been up that thing before. It was scary.
I ditched my sleeping bag, tarp, and down jacket here along with some other stuff that I didn’t need. I wanted to be light for the scrambling and climbing up Mount Regan. I made good time to the ridge conecting with the ridge running left/right in the photo above and then connected to the ridge leading to Albert Edward, turning right. The route on the ridges was 80% melted out, I just followed the cairns and markers, it’s a no brainer for sure. There was still a cornice on AE which, if it was in the wrong spot would really impede my advancement on Regan as the route drops off of the ridge leading to AE in the photo. It was looking like maybe it’ll just be Albert Edward after all (no Regan)… I was starting to get a little bummed. As I walked along, I tried to spy some options from far away and then check them out in detail as I got closer.
Finally, less than 100 meters from the top of Albert Edward I found a maybe useable option. There was a little patch of clear ground and I was able to climb down on the rock and sneek under the serac hanging off of the top of the ridge. A few meters climber’s left I found a line of 3rd class weakness that lead me down to the route described by “Vancouver Islander” in his post and route description for Mount Regan on SummitPost. Actually, before we go any further here, I just want to express my thanks to him. I don’t own a GPS, but the high resolution photos were a big help to me and I don’t think that I would have tried the route without them, nay, got the idea to go up this underrated mountain at all!! Thank you!
I linked up with Islander’s route and downclimbed 3rd and 4th class moves to an area easily noted as it looks like a great place to put on your crampons and get out your ice axe. Thankfully, as he notes, this spot is above a bergshrund :). Here’s Regan as seen about halfway down to the snow. The route drops you off of AE’s ridge, down the rock to the snow, over to the col between the two mountains, and up either the obvious ridge or one of the gullies in the center of the photo.
Now, I thought that this mountain receives little attention and that his prettier cousin gets all the action. The summit register would later confirm this, however look what I found on my way down to the snow. That’s right, a footprint!!
I was really surprised and kind of happy. At least someone else had been silly enough to walk all this way to get up this mountain!
I carried on down to the snow, feeling like there was someone with me… (Awwwwwww… warm and fuzzies.). I got to the snow and put my crampons on. I didn’t really need them at all, the snow was pretty soft here but I was happy to have them (besides, I brought them all this way!) as they made me feel more secure and this meant that I defiantly wouldn’t fall while I was out here alone.
The route descried in vancouver-islander’s post, heads up the 2nd from the right gully however, I would recommend just taking the ridge up and down, staying on the AE side of it — but that’s just my take. Any way you go up the mountain, be ready for heaps of rockfall and rotten rock. At times I was climbing and the mountain would be crumbling away underneath me. I’m a solid rock climber, so I was fine making the moves on the rock I just got scared when the rocks would crumble and pull away in my hands and on my feet. Yikes. On the way up, I followed vancouver-islander’s route up the 2nd from the right gully through 4th class to low 5th class moves on rotten rock up to easier ground above the gully. From there it’s a looooose scramble up to the top, about ten minutes.
On top I had a quick Peanut Butter Snickers bar that the elderly gas station attendant in Duncan told me was “much better and more tastier than the regular Snickers”. They are not, they taste awful, do not be fooled. Never trust the word “tastier”. Man, I was knackered, but I couldn’t even finish the thing! That’s how bad it was! I gave it to the mountain instead.
I could see the weather was getting cloudy and I thought that I should be getting down. A quick signing of the summit register reveled that the bootprint belonged to Tom Carter (hey, I know that guy!) or Dean. The summit register was from 2008 but only had one and half pages of entries. A couple in the summer of 2009 and nothing for 2010 (!!!). Then there was Tom’s and Dean’s entry from three days ago and mine. Wow, that’s not a lot!
I made my way down the ridge (red dots, photo above) and across to AE and scrambled up the 3rd class to the ridge. I walked up in order to gain the summit of Albert Edward and call it a day but stopped about 50 meters (+/-) from the top as I wanted to share the experience with someone. I was lonely and I actually spoke to the mountain, “I’ll be back.” I’d like to return to the mountain with a companion. Takers?
To that effect, I was sure happy to see some other souls up there with me: a couple from Vancouver and a hardman making his way to Buttle Lake from Paradise Meadows.
For some variety, I took the 7km route past Lady Lake out to the Parking Lot. I was SO happy to see this sign (above) at the one end of Battleship Lake. I was so beat and ready to go home. I know it’s just a ski hill, but doesn’t Mount Washington look nice reflected in Battleship Lake?