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The objective was to find the route to Crown Pass, over the snow-pack. Mountaineering crampons and two ice axes were indispensable.

Due to the recent warmth, the snow-line is very high. Grouse Grind was clear, and the BCMC trail had only snow near its very top. The snow quickly turns soft/mushy by noon, or well before it.

While I' d done this route (Grouse Grind to Crown Pass to Crown) a few times in summer, the winter route has never been clear. I'd examined the snow-pack in both early winter, and last Spring. I knew the route to Goat Mountain, and the location of the fork towards Crown. But the route down, which in summers goes via a chain section, has never been clear.

This time, too, I did not find the trail. Going back and forth, examining various options, I finally decided to descend (what appeared to be) a drainage path. I'd seen it on a previous attempt. It was wide, flat (with all the snow) and clear, nearly all the way down to Crown Pass, ending not too far (perhaps 150 metres or so) from the location of the summer trail's entrance to Hanes Valley ie the bottom of Crown Pass. I had lots of time, perfect visibility, and the snow-pack had not turned into slush yet. Avalanche rating was Moderate, and the path's two ends did not suggest either a recent avalanche or a large potential at the top. The surface snow seemed fine, but of course I was taking a chance on the layers beneath!

I cramponed my way to the bottom. But, passing a boulder, I heard water flowing beneath, which alarmed me greatly. It was half way down, and I decided to continue. The path was lined with trees on both sides, and very well shaded.

Once at Crown Pass, I was surprised to see that a few trail markers, for the route to Crown, were still visible! But this quickly ended. I relied on my recollection, and experimentation, to find a route up. The summer trail goes up towards left, generally. This sufficed to get me past the steep, (south-eastern?) cliff-face which was my main concern wrt route-finding.

Eventually, I found the boulder field that is two-thirds of the way up. I proceeded to cross it, when I noticed the steep rocks which lay uphill. As with the summit, snow had melted off of these. But, at this spot, the melt-water was flowing under the 45-degree snow-pack, towards a drainage! By this time, the sunshine had turned that slope's snow into slush. I decided to turn around, to attempt to traverse the top end of this slope/pack. But it took too long. As I'd already achieved my goal--that of finding a route to Crown Pass, and up Crown--I decided to return. The path down Crown, and the climb towards Goat, were still risk areas which I wanted to allow extra time for.

The climb out of Crown Pass became interesting. The drainage I had descended through, though still shaded, might have had softer snow by then. Certainly, at the boulder I'd heard water beneath, I suddenly felt that the surface snow might give in to the water beneath. I had to spread my weight, and, instead of plunging the axes' spikes into the snow, I buried both the pick and the spike, using the curved shaft as a rung to pull myself up on. I did so for a few meters.

Note: I did use snow-shoes a few times, but the snow is so consolidated that they proved unnecessary. Crampons, or (on less steep slopes) plain boot-packing, sufficed.

Trip Reporter
15.05.2018 (984 Days Ago)
Trip Report TitleCrown Mountain, over snow, 12 May 2018
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