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I'd intended to skin up from the Cypress resort to St. Marks peak, then ski the HSCT. But, a day or two before, I decided to prepend to it a hike to the resort from Marine Drive. The latter took too long, and, due to the recent warmth, the snow on the trail (from the Cypress resort) towards St Marks had mostly melted. So I aborted the HSCT attempt.

I'd done the Marine-to-Black-Mountain-to-St-Marks hike once, a few years ago, in summer. I thought that there might be snow on the scree, just before Eagle Bluffs, but I came across none. No crampons or axe was needed. The few people who do hike up to Eagle Bluffs seem to start from Horseshoe Bay; I have done so from Marine Drive, going through the Nelson Canyon Park and Whyte Lake areas. On this occasion, unlike my previous attempt, I got sloppy, and ended up mistakenly taking the long route (towards Arbutus Grove and Larson Creek), unnecessarily climbing a hill, and getting lost in the maze of unmarked, residential trails! The map+compass+GPS combination got me out, but significant time was lost. Being early in the morning, on an under-used trail, I ran into a very displeased, adult bear as well.

The snow-pack started in the trees after Eagle Bluffs. The route towards the resort was not worth skinning, as it was too narrow, with tight up-and-down rolls and quick turns, and covered with pine needles. Approaching the resort, all the bamboo markers for the snow-shoe trails had been removed, as it was off-season. So, more time was lost. Thankfully, there were enough people around (coming from the resort) that some help was obtained.

By the time I hit a run, my legs were too exhausted to ski the cupped snow well enough. Most of the Cypress bowl still had a good snow-pack, though; it is certainly worthwhile to _drive_ up for a few laps, if you don't mind hiking up the runs every time.

I contemplated whether I should attempt the HSCT, as it was late in the afternoon, and I was tired. As I _could_ go on at a slower pace, and there was still lots of sunshine left, and I could ski+hike down to Lions Bay (after reaching West Lion) instead of returning to Cypress as I typically do in summers, I chose to attempt St. Marks. However, I soon realized that there was too little snow left amongst the trees. One could not skin up--at least not for much of the beginning--and hiking required trail crampons whereas I had only mountaineering crampons. (I hike in sandals, and was carrying ski boots. The crampons fit the latter, not the former, and I was not going to hike up in ski boots without any snow beneath!) Therefore, after a very long day, I chose to return. Judging by the snow-pack on the top of Black Mountain, and knowing the route to St Marks, it simply was not worthwhile for me, at this time of this year, to hike up again for the mushy snow at higher elevations. When on top of Black Mountain, I'd looked across at the distant Lions and St Marks; the height was not different, and so I expected the snow experience to be similar.

If I attempt it again, it will be in mid-winter.

Trip Reporter
16.05.2018 (91 Days Ago)
Trip Report TitleBlack Mountain (Cypress), 5 May 2018
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