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Trip Report

Stoyoma Again – 45 Years later
by Karl Ricker

The article title says it all – a convenient abstract.  In 1973 our first early autumn Coquihalla trip was launched, not knowing at the time it was to be an annual event.  The Coquihalla highway did not exist then, although residents of Merritt were lobbying for it to be built.  They  had one or more auto rallies on the old Kettle Valley Railway grade to demonstrate the potential effectiveness of the route.   We followed suit using the very aesthetic rail grade, and pipeline roads, to reach the Coldwater Valley’s farms and public road access to Merritt.  This route was used annually for another 12  years before the highway opened in 1986.

The first climb was actually beyond the Coquihalla Valley, but in those days, any tract of land east of the Fraser Canyon, south of Nicola Valley, north of the Hope-Princeton highway, and west of Tulameen was known as the Coquihalla.  So, on a cool and cloudy October weekend of 1973, six of us met Norm Hansen at his house in Merritt.  He knew the logging road route to Cabin Lake on Mt. Stoyoma (2267  m) – the highest peak on the northern end of the Cascade Mountains.  For the day, his two young daughters, Sheila and Annette, plus their dog, “Snowy”, joined the group to hike and scramble up the mountain.  It was a cool and breezy day with the odd squall of snowfall.  Despite the adversity of weather, it was very enjoyable, and the recorder of the trip, Ragnar Bruaset, simply described it as a walk, suitable for ascent on horseback!  Well, that was an overstatement, despite the fact that sheep herders had used the mountain for several decades and probably scrambled beyond the alpine flora to reach the very rocky summit.

Thereafter, Norm joined us for many of the trips to the Coquihalla, in his usual logger’s attire, including cork boots, and always with the same lunch:  rye krisp smothered with sardines and topped off with raw onion.  And, so, 45 years after the first trip, it was time to revisit Stoyoma with Norm, now in our 80s, our legs were wearing out.  Interest in the revisit grew by leaps and bounds on the website trip register – a mind-boggling 23 names posted, plus those of us who refuse to use the internet!  But there was a caveat – participants had to also phone me.  What?!, that might mean a long-distance charge!, or other inconvenience!  Few made the phone call and as the weekend approach, only 7 online registrants showed up!, but added to by another 7 luddites, including myself, to complete the entourage.

A recce a few days prior confirmed the road route, a place to camp, and where to park to start the climb.  Usually, it begins at Cabin Lake but the road to it is bedeviled by a nearby ravine to cross which causes big problems.  The selected campsite was reached after a 1.5 hour drive from Merritt.  It was the first day after a long fire season ban that campfires were permitted.  Norm and Bert then set off to rectify the lack of firewood and seats to sit on around the fire.  His pick-up, with the usual chainsaw on board, returned to camp with a full load of dry wood and, cheerfully, we sat and ate around a very pleasant and warming fire.  About 9:00 p.m., a cold rain sent everyone to their tents and the fire was soon self-doused.

Sunday dawned a crisp day with ice on the tents;  Norm re-lit the fire, and then used an old circle-bar branding iron, driven into the red-hot coals to support his huge pot of “cowboy” coffee.  He hasn’t changed in 4.5 decades.  At 8:00 a.m. the entourage of 8 vehicles, all in 4WD, crawled up to the trailhead at 1800 metres’ elevation.  A skiff of overnight snow didn’t slow the ascent of glade-to-glade leap-frogging to the alpine.  A brisk wind, over rocky terrain, saw us scramble over the south ridge which led to the very cool summit in about three hours.  Who led the charge up?  Bert Parke, at age 85, with alpen stick in hand was up with the young guys, while Norm and I were the last to show up.  Descent to the cars on more or less the same route was greeted with honest snowfall.  Coldcoqu #45 was completed in classic fluctuating weather and never faltering enthusiasm.  All that was left to do was the 400 km drive back to Vancouver.  Stoyoma is as far north that we go on the east side of the Cascades.  Next year:  #46? (might need a new organizer).

Trip participants (by decreasing age) as follows:  Bert Parke (Logan Lake), Norm Hansen (Merritt), Karl Ricker (Whistler), Jenny Faulkner (Vancouver), Dave Hughes (North Vancouver), Ed Zenger (Burnaby), John Sapac (Vancouver), Adrienne Hughes (North Vancouver), Erich Hinze (Vancouver), Marilyn Cram (Greendale), Ziff House (Bradner), Ehleen Hinze (Vancouver), Dan Marshall (Vancouver), Jesse Brown (Vancouver), and Decker (Snooper).  Average age:  66 – qualifies as a pensioner status trip!

Wildlife:  Northern pygmy owl (1);  White-tailed ptarmigan(2)

South Peak of Mount Stoyoma - Courtesy of Bivouac.com

Stoyoma South Peak
_Stoyoma South Peak
Trip Reporter
10.01.2018 (1193 Days Ago)
Trip Report TitleStoyoma Again – 45 Years later
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