Needle Peak March 13 2010

NSH Forums Trip Reports Needle Peak March 13 2010

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    Official Needle Peak Hike with NSH March 13/10

    Yes once again NSH was back out to the Coquihalla to hike Needle Peak. The original CD could not make it. I think his Dog, Frank, was having his first date and it was an event its Daddy could not pass.

    I already hate my new alarm clock….it works. It was surprising anyone even showed at Franklin considering how hard it was raining Saturday morning.
    Six hardy souls braved the conditions and took trust in my prediction we would have fantastic weather. Why shouldn’t they? I am 12 for 12 sunny hikes so far this year!
    Today would be no exception. Starting with rain in Vancouver and by the time we hit Abbotsford it was clearing. Hope looked kind of iffy. The Coquihalla Highway had a full on snow storm and when we stopped it was overcast. Perfect for hiking in one of the prettiest area’s around.

    I need to back up for a minute. When we arrived at our destination we were already running considerably late. Our faithful driver, you know the French Man with the Italian first name, Lionel, thought we were meeting at Franklin later than the rest of us planned. Oh well, what’s a little cold rain running down your back at 7 am while waiting for a ride? Beggars cannot get to fussy can we?

    The avalanche conditions were extreme all over southern BC so we took our time to discuss the situation and precautions that we would have to take for the entire day. I did not want to scare anyone but rather just be a little more alert than normal. Simple things like spreading out while hiking and keeping an eye on each other as well as staying clear of any open area’s while moving under large exposed slopes. The end result was my paranoia probably added considerable amount of time to the overall hike. As Martha Stewart would say ‘this was good.”

    The good part of starting late was someone else was already ahead of us on the trail. With all the new snow, and there was a considerable amount of dry fluffy stuff, someone else had broke trail for us up to the meadows. This made going up through the trees very easy and quick, at least for Lionel and Colette. The rest of us sucked gas fumes dragging ourselves up from behind, except for Cam. Cam was in a different time zone for most of the day.

    See, I don’t mind kicking sand at the guy when he is having a tough day because I know when he is back to full health he is probably going to kill me. I first met Cam on a hike last fall lead by Gordon R. Cam and his brother thought they would show the older guys (Me and Gordon) how quickly they could kick our butts going up to Garibaldi lake. Not that Gordon or I our competitive but we had these guys for breakfast before we were half way up the main trail. The rest of the day just went better as they struggled. Yea, it felt good!
    Next time I met Cam we were hiking Brandywine during the first major winter storm back in early November. He got his car stuck in the off road section twice! He still blames me for pointing him in the wrong direction but he was the guy behind the wheel. Not only did he stick his car in the ditch twice but he miss lead us on the hike with his GPS. That’s my story and I am sticking with it.

    Now back to Needle Peak. Cam had some excuse that he was still not right after coming down with a case of Bell’s Palsy over the past week. I know your thinking the same thing, what a lame excuse. So half his face is frozen and he cannot shut his left eye while breathing out only half his mouth. No excuse!
    Furthermore, he kind of had the ‘cute’ look that Dr Evil had in the movie The Spy Who Shagged Me with Mike Myers. Actually he looked more like Mini-Me after he just got the short end of a fight with Austin Powers. What can I say more about Cam? We are friends!

    Things were going great on the hike. We made up to the rocks where you need to switch out of snow shoes into crampons fairly quickly. Like the previous two times I have been on this mountain the wind was swirling from all directions but we had some blue in the sky. We stuck to non exposed area’s following close to trees and rocks. Lionel did a great number breaking trail.

    This time as a group we decided to go further east before climbing up over the first set of exposed rocks. As a well functioning united group we went in three different directions. Lionel went one way. Zig and Neil went another while loyal troopers, Cam and Colette followed me. Obviously they never read my last trip report when I tried dragging Lionel up a little spot that had a 3 or 400 meter drop off behind us. Minor details should never cloud your vision going forward!

    I went straight up a section that was probably 30 to 40 degree slope with a rather large rock in our way to deal with not to mention there was only about one inch of thin ice to stick an axe into. I don’t know what I was thinking but I grabbed some barely exposed roots and dragged myself up and over this persistent obstacle. The rock was round and big enough that I could not get any foot grip even with the spikes of my crampons. It was all brawn and stupidity.

    When I look up there was Lionel, Zig and Neil looking down wondering what we were doing and why were we taking so long. I turned to Cam and Colette and said they should back down and take the elevator that Zig and Neil took. I guess Cam thought if I could make it over this rock, so could he. Well, after a considerable amount of time went by he did. Like me, not much thinking, all brawn and stupidity.

    Lionel, the gentleman went down and helped Colette back down. I was relived she was not going to follow Cam and myself. I thought that was the last I was going to see those two until we met for lunch. I told Lionel I would meet them later while I helped the rest for a summit attempt.

    Zig was cold so lucky he did not mind doing the extra work load breaking trail up towards the last section where the summit sits. I followed Zig and Neil fell in behind. As we approached the ‘thumb’ where the summit sits I looked at the section Lionel and I had tried climbing two months ago on the southwest side. We, or me anyways, must have had rocks in my head thinking I could have made it up that section. The southeast side looked much more palatable even with the clouds and wind blowing in and out with snow coming from all directions. I looked back and I could see Dr Evil, or I mean Cam, still managing to put one foot in front of the other. I could see one section where he would break through our footsteps and sink up to his waist in snow. Man, he was having a rough day. I am sure that one eye that would not close was causing lots of grief with the wind and snow.

    Getting up the ‘thumb’ to the summit was fun with a couple of sketchy spots that just added to our adventure. Zig and I had a high five and a few minutes later Neil joined us for a very short summit celebration. I looked down the southwest spot that I tried climbing last time. Gulp, it was a good thing I turned back when I did.

    Pleasantly surprised as we headed down Cam was moving along making his way followed now by Lionel and Colette all heading up towards the summit. As CD this was great to see and feel. Everyone was excited and we were once again all together. I gave Lionel my camera to take a summit picture. I did not expect him to rattle off a dozen pictures of Colette’s butt while she was descending. It’s a nice butt but how many times do I need to see it?

    Back at our snow shoes I was totally stocked and I think I can speak for everyone else they felt the same.

    Now the fun part was to find spot for lunch and watch Cam eat a peanut butter sandwich on dry bread out of one side of his mouth. This should be fun at his expense.

    I cannot remember now but it was like 3 or 4 pm by the time we had lunch. It was the second time I heard a helicopter down below in the Coquihalla valley. I would not find out until I got home there had been a major avalanche further north and several people were missing. The choppers were probably heading up the valley to the disaster. A subtle reminder that we had a fantastic safe day but mother nature can be equally cruel if you’re not careful. Then again it can just be being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Like good lemmings we all snow shoe skied our way through the trees back down to Lionel’s limousine in waiting.

    Thanks again Lionel for driving.
    Thanks everyone for a good time.
    Thanks Cam for being a good sport!

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