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Trip Report

TRIP REPORT Habrich and Sky Pilot
14th-15th July

Part 1 Habrich/Escape Velocity

After bad weather two weeks ago we were able to re-schedulle the trip. Met at the church at 10ish took the Gondola a bit late and started hiking right the way, once the trail branches out of the Valley Trail…it’s straight up an alpine version of the Grouse Grind while carrying climbing gear.

When we got to the climb oh oh, two parties ahead, they probably came on the first gondola and beat us to the start. The follower on the first rope struggled a bit on the 5.9 with some hanging, yelling (PS:so funny that this person a complete stranger at the time is someone I just climbed Rainier with and happens to be a very cool BCMC member that I am so glad I met, Rich)…everyone was kind off tense as with 6 more pitches and behind two parties could be a loooong day, the leader of the second rope (a british couple) launched to pass them before Rich got to the belay I guess linking P2/P3 and did so. That was the last time we saw either party climbing, the british couple when up at lightspeed and we ended up sharing a belay as they were rapping. I shared the anchor atop of P2 with Rich but as they went on to link their pitches onwards and we had decided to let pass Tim/Pav… we didn’t see them again until the top. All smooth sailing and super enjoyable.

I was going to do a pitch by pitch breakdown but I don’t think this climb needs it, the topo is a clear as they come and with plenty of bolts and bolted belays getting loss would be admirable. The “first pitch” is literally two moves with two bolts to gain the ledge to belay the second one…we didn’t link them cause there was a party ahead so we decided to “climb it” and watch them tackle P2 while snacking (on the way down Pav and me didn’t even rap it, just down climbed it using the PAS to clip on the bolts aid style). The 5.9 pitch has a bit of an awkward corner crack/chimney type move but it’s just a couple of moves with all the gear you could possibly want so very fun and by far the best pitch, maybe the only interesting one. Being not a strong 5.9 trad leader and seeing one party struggle I was a bit nervous but I lead it pretty smoothly to my surprise. I’d say from there is all the same until the last pitch, short sections of 5.6/7 face/slab with lots of bolts and gear possibilities between ledges, all the pitches can be linked and there is a fair bit of scrambling between these sections of walls. The last pitch don’t think can be linked as there are a few meters of walking to move the belay and finishes on a 5.6/7 crack on perfect granite, Smoke Bluffs style, the ledge is so big that you don’t really feel climbing to the summit, but the climbing is great.

Strategy: As there were a few parties on it, Fernando and me climbed the first pitch (P2 of the topo) and linked the rest. Pav and Tim, as the stronger party, waited for us to finish P2 in case I had any trouble with the 5.9 and linked with it P3..so basically we were overtaking and been overtaked by each other all the time so it was quite a chatty enjoyable climb. The climbing was super fast, especially compared with the steep approach, so Tim and Pav decided that still had some climbing in them and would try to climb something in bluffs after Tim’s first trad lead on the last pitch. We decided to have a quick bite and start rappelling quickly. There was a large party on the raps bellow us that were taking some time and super kindly decided to let use their ropes and link their two raps, that plus the fact that we had 2 60m ropes meant that we were at the base in no time. I was surprised on both how busy it was the climb and also on how that didn’t really make any difference in terms of going faster/slower other than delaying a bit the start.

All and all a good moderate but with so many bolts covering easy moves, climbing parties and bolted anchors couldn’t quite say that it was an alpine climb, more of a good “entry level” multipitch with an alpine set up. Surprisingly the next morning Sunday as we were coming back from Sky Pilot noticed how no parties were on their way to Habrich, maybe just bad luck with crowds on a glorious Saturday morning but either way I don’t think it made a difference other than the first few mins of nervousness when you see people ahead of you.

Part 2 - Sky Pilot Scramble
We got down quickly to the main fork, Tim and Pav decided to get back to the gondola to go down to Squamish and climb a bit more and Fernando and me recovered our overnight packs. Our wives had been hiking during the morning and left us the sign that after doing AI Habrich trail, had already been on the fork and continued walking uphill towards Sky Pilot.

We cached them as they were resting/napping on their sleeping pads in a cairn before crossing the river, took a break, ate and continued walking uphill the last section of forest. We all were pretty tired so as the forest thins out and the first patches of snow are melting we found a perfect bivvy spot, right over a small waterfall with still by the forest to pick dead wood, the river a couple of meters, Habrich behind and a first glimpse of the east shoulder of Sky Pilot above us.
Carrying heavy packs has a few advantages; weight training and good dinner! We shared a flask full of whisky, sausages over the campfire until got dark, almost midnight, with Fernando taking some great shots with his camera. Luckily this was just before the start of the campfire ban so we had a nice fire to cook the sausages, scare the moskitoes and provide a beautiful light into the glacier mountains around us.

Everyone was very tired and didn’t want to continue uphill the next day, just enjoy the day and get down, so I promised I would wake up early summit and be back for breakfast time. I set the alarm at 4.30 but slept through it until 5, got the crampons, trekking pole, candybar, water and a couple of layers in case anything went wrong and started moving by 5.30am. The first part is already a scree talus (there are snow patches on the left but decided to go through the scree and delay putting on crampons until the end) and only “needed” them once I got to the upper bowl/cirque of the stadium glacier. There is still lots of snow to get to the ridge so went straight to it, the snow is very soft so even on the steepest part to gain the rigde could probably be done without crampons by kicking steps but with them on and using the trekking pole instead of an ice axe felt super safe (a fall here is completely inconsequential with this level of snow as you would just glide down to center of the bowl were the angle eases, in fact lots of glissade tracks). Kept moving fast and passed a group of still sleepy people bivying on the col before the pink slabs and went for it. Having heard about it I was a bit nervous but definitely just 4th class and if starting right and traversing left not even that much exposure. Followed the cairns that loop around to the south side and from here all went downhill…

I kept following recent tracks traversing south-east (not gaining any elevation) until got to a rotten red rock area of very crumbly ledges with a steep fall on the south side despite what would be been better judgement I continued moving on these precarious and exposed ledges with unsecure footing, kept traversing and traversing…after awhile the quality of the rock was a bit better but quite narrow…def not for the faint hearted, kept going until the system of ledges I was following started trending down the south face, definitely I was too east and I had to gain elevation not lose it…every path up looked 4th class maybe low 5th but nothing obvious that would continue to the top and didn’t want to down climb into those narrow ledges so stopped to assess the situation as I had been sort of on autopilot until then. I was a bit shaken, this was wayyyy more technical and exposed than the pink slabs, although I was completely safe I didn’t feel comfortable with exploring this side of the mountain by myself with no one else around, whether this was the scrambling route or not I felt like turning around, so I did. After getting back in solid ground and still shaken by the red scree area decided to stop drink water and have a sandwich. I browsed through the printouts of the guide book (why I didn’t check them before I still don’t understand, but as I said was sort of in autopilot until then) and booom im such an idiot, the new McLane&Boyd has lots of pictures of this route, there is lots of flagging and cairns but focused on moving fast followed footsteps to the nice rest were I was and where the red scree starts rather than moving up through a chimney a few meters before (with flagging within sight I should say, adding to my stupidity). Feeling like an absolute idiot followed the obvious trail/cairns to a ridge(west shoulder as per route description)that then goes down with a few exposed moves but nothing as loose and exposed as the terrain I had been before and a couple of mins later I was in the summit. So cool to have the entire mountain for myself in a blue sky morning, cool temps and a bit of an adventure that ended well!

I didn’t feel like glissading as the ratio of terrain that would save me to descent to frozen ass wasn’t quiet there but ran downhill until the snow disappears and then back to camp. Fernando and Lu had just woken up and were making coffee. Best timing ever, arrive to camp as coffee is being served! Waited for Renee to wake up and we all had a nice breakfast and an easy morning walking around and finally back to the Gondola as the Sunday morning hordes came to scramble the route. 
Checking the timestamps of the pics: started moving just before 5.30am, not running but quite fast to the start of steep snow that gains the col at 6am, summit 6:55am back to the forest/camp 7:50am.
Also looks like there is a route going through the red scree (see 2min26sec onwards of this video https://youtu.be/oInBHPNlP-A?t=146 ) but that route looks like goes up were I kept traversing south-east, anyway the route described in McLane&Boyd is definitely the way to go!

summit of Habrich
_summit of Habrich
Trip Reporter
24.07.2018 (914 Days Ago)
Trip Report TitleHabrich & Sky pilot
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