Hollyburn Peak, 9 Apr 2011

This week has seen about a metre of new snow fall on the North Shore, so we just had to get out and play in it. We teamed up with Andrew, Gabriela, Susanne and Carollyne for a hike with the largest group we’ve hiked with in some time. Even with our leisurely start we still managed to get parked within 20 metres of the trailhead – one of the good things about spring snowshoeing. As usual the first part of the trail was littered with dog poop, but it was thankfully rare after that. I took off into the soft snow on the initial ascent and was rewarded with a slog through wet cement.

The trail was compacted and snowshoes weren’t really needed. Neither Andrew nor Gabriela wore theirs, opting for crampons or microspikes instead. Off trail was a different story of course. We plodded along, chatting away amongst ourselves and I must admit I hardly noticed where we were at any point until we reached the base of the clear ascent to the summit. We paused there for a break before continuing upwards. The clouds swirled around us, and views were scarce with occasional glimpses down to the water and parts of Point Grey. To our right, the sheer face of Crown Mountain played peek-a-boo, clearing just enough at one point to get a dramatic mountain+cloud shot.

Hollyburn Snowshoe, 9 Apr 2011

The summit was remarkably free of people, and we were able to find space to sit at the very top. Time for an early lunch or extended snack break. Although we had no views to the north or east, we had a nice view to the west with Black Mountain and the Cypress Bowl ski area laid out before us, even a bit of Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast. The clouds drifted over the Mt Strachan runs. I noticed a bird circling below, then another and we watched as a pair of bald eagles rode the thermals up the gulley between Hollyburn and Mt Strachan, eventually disappearing into the clouds behind us.

Hollyburn Snowshoe, 9 Apr 2011

I was asked to take a photo of someone with as much of the non-cloudy views as possible behind him. To my surprise, the camera turned out to be a Canon A80, the very same we used to have. I remarked on that fact and the owner praised its durability, something we can attest to given how many times we dropped it and yet continued to work. At its demise, it was held together with elastic bands and it needed considerable persuasion to turn on. But I found myself shocked at the tiny screen, hardly able to see what I was taking a photo of. Much as we liked that camera, there is no way I could go back to using it for any length of time. Photo op done with, he proceeded to pick a line between everyone in our group, most of whom were sat down, rather than walk round us. WTF? Most bizarre.

We teased the whisky jacks with the promise of some food, though Andrew was unable to tempt one to try and land on his hand so he could withdraw it at the last minute, as he did at Opal Cone a couple of years ago. I got a blurry photo on one taking off from my hand, and another as it swooped by. I quickly gave up.

Time to retrace our steps. I decided to take a different route down, trying to follow the summer trail. That turned out to be not possible given the steep dropoffs near the summit, but I picked it up again a bit further down. As I reached the bottom of the steepest part of the ascent, I was joined by Maria, Carollyne and Susanne to blaze our own trail through the heavy snow, following the summer trail as closely as possible. We plunge-stepped our way down the slope, heading diagonally through the trees until we joined an open slope parallel to the main trail. We followed it down and met up with Gabriela and Andrew at the top of the cross-country ski run. Then all that was left to do was follow the trail back to the cars, with a short stop off for making snow angels and/or faceplants :-)

Hollyburn Snowshoe, 9 Apr 2011

Distance: 6 km
Elevation gain: 400 m
Photos on Flickr

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