Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail, 20 Oct 2018

Opinion
I think I may have just found the best view in the Lower Mainland. I’m not kidding. But you’ve got to earn it with an exceptionally steep climb through forest and meadows, followed by that same steep descent that could get very tricky when wet. Definitely not a trail for beginners. Allow plenty of time to admire the views and go when it’s dry. I think you’ll find it’s worth it.

Fact
The trail begins by the gondola station and is signed and marked as far as the pretty little Neverland Pond. It’s in good condition and dry – for now at least. Olesen Creek was completely dry. The fixed ropes on the awkward bits are useful for the descent but not really needed on the way up.

Beyond Neverland Pond, the trail remains mostly easy to follow but gets really steep, really quickly, rising over 430 m in less than 2 km. We needed to use our hands in many spots. Some sections have fixed ropes (especially helpful on the descent) but in others we relied on the vegetation for support and belaying. We were extremely glad it was dry as I think it would be much more tricky when wet. Flagging tape marks the route to follow – there are a handful of little side trails to viewpoints which make welcome rest stops but take care to rejoin the trail before continuing.

The gradient eases (slightly) on the upper sections passing through small bowls and meadows before taking a turn eastwards underneath a boulder-strewn cliff. Flagging still guides the route. Don’t try and go up; follow the base of the cliffs, boulder-hopping, until it feels like the land is about to run out to find an easy ramp that leads up to the upper part of the ridge. And be prepared to be blown away by the view on cresting the ridge.

Give yourself plenty of time as there are many places to stop and admire the view, and you’ll want to linger at the top with its jaw-dropping view. It’s a full unobstructed 360 degrees with views of Mount Habrich and Sky Pilot, Mount Baker, Mount Judge Howay, Mount Gillespie, Seed Peak, Watersprite Lake area, Mamquam Mountain and massif, Garibaldi massif, Mount Price, Black Tusk, Brandywine, Fee, Cypress, Tricouni, the Tantalus Range, the Chief, Howe Sound, and more.

As ever, for Sea to Sky Gondola hikes, we parked in the Darrell Bay parking lot, which was mostly empty when we arrived. And be sure to check the time of the last gondola down (unlike us who didn’t find out until we were in line waiting to go up…)! Currently the last gondola down is at 6 pm, just before sunset.

Distance: 13.5 km (including distance from Darrell bay parking lot)
Elevation gain: 875 m
Time: 6 hours (elapsed time from/to upper gondola station + 15 min each to/from parking but not gondola ride time)

Al's Habrich Ridge Trail, 20 Oct 2018

Story

9 thoughts on “Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail, 20 Oct 2018

  1. This looks amaaaazing Andy!
    We went up to the viewpoint on Al’s Habrich Ridge a few weeks ago (but we climbed up from the car park, so we were pretty pooped by the time we’d made it that far! I’m not sure if I’d be able to keep scrambling to the top as well! Goodness though, that view looks worth the effort!

    1. Yeah I don’t know about trying it all the way from the bottom – that’d be about 1700 m of elevation gain! Mind you that’s a good way to earn your after-hike beer! :-) I highly recommend it for that view though, but taking the gondola will make it so much easier – we’ve bought annual passes the last couple of years and it’s been worth it to get into some of the gorgeous backcountry up there.

      1. Ooooh I think we might have to do that too. I need a map of the area first though. For now, I’m still working my way through the 105 hikes. I have 77 to go!)

      2. I have a spare map if you’d like it – it’s a bit out of date for some of the gondola trails but it’s otherwise fine. I also use caltopo.com to print out maps.

      3. Oooh that would be awesome! Also, thank you! I’ll take a peek at caltopo.com.

        I love looking at maps and planning routes. I’m just being more careful since I saw those posts about the online maps not labeling climbing routes!!

      4. Cool – I’ll bring it in next week. Yeah, I could (and often do) spend ages playing around with maps. I do miss OS maps though…

    1. It’s spectacular isn’t it? It’s definitely one of my top 5 for the year. I went back and re-read your article and it made me want to do that loop too, though I’m not sure how I’ll deal with the sketchy bits :-) I remember wondering about making the loop from the Skyline Ridge side last year but it sounds like your way round is better. It’s all such beautiful country up there…

  2. Ya, I’m not sure I would have figured out the route or done the sketchy parts if my friend hadn’t been with me. I’ll do it again but it will have to wait until next summer.

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