Monday, November 4, 2013

Callaghan Country - Late Summer Explorations

With the Squamish summer slipping away and our fall climbing trips just around the corner, we were anxious to squeeze in a couple more hikes before the snow started to fall in the alpine. One area we hadn't explored was Callaghan Lake Provincial Park, an alpine playground about 45 minutes north of Squamish. This park and its surrounding peaks is a winter hot spot for Nordic and backcountry skiers, but it also features amazing terrain for summer explorations. Although established hiking trails are rare, Cirque Lake and Ring Lake both have good approaches and make excellent day trips from Squamish or Whistler. Visiting these two basins was a great way to end our summer and our Mammut backpacks (Creon Element and Contact) really proved themselves after dozens of trips into the alpine.

North side of Brandywine Mountain (2,213 m) as seen from the Callaghan approach road. This is a very popular backcountry ski destination.

Canoe at Cirque Lake trailhead. Two kilometres of pleasant paddling take you to a small beach and the start of the short but steep hike.

Cirque Lake, a gorgeous basin below the north side of Mount Callaghan.

Callaghan Lake at sunset. The pointed peak of Black Tusk is just visible at the end of the lake.

Conflict Lake, a perfect spot to relax midway along the 10-km hike to Ring Lake.

Looking down on Ring Lake from the ridge to the south. The highest peak visible is Mt. Callaghan (2,409 m). It's summit is attainable via a long but moderate 3rd to 4th class scramble along the ridge on the left side of the photo.

Ring Mountain (2,192 m) at the west end of Ring Lake. This peak is a "tuya", a somewhat rare flat-topped volcano which forms when lava erupts through a sheet of glacial ice. The summit is also very accessible from Ring Lake.

Enjoy the fall climbing! Winter is just around the corner...

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