Metal Dome

GPS recording available here:

Elevation Gain: 1,405m
Distance: 20.74km
Total Time: 6 hours 35 minutes
Date: December 4th, 2021

After a much overdue break from bad weather this weekend was finally calling for a reprieve from the rain. Freezing levels were slated to drop to near the valley floor and avalanche danger was low/low/moderate. I wanted to get out and do something longer than what I had been and Metal Dome looked like a good option. A number of members from the SWBC peak bagging group had been up in the past few weeks so I had a good idea of what to expect for the route. I reached out to Jacob about joining along and we agreed to later start around 8am.

On Saturday we left Vancouver around 8:15am and made a stop at ClimbOn in Squamish to grab Jacob some new poles and gloves. We weren’t in a rush and so left the store a decent time later making it to the Brandywine FSR turn off some time around 10:45am. I didn’t know how far we were allowed to drive up, given the snowmobile activity, so we stopped around 620m in elevation just before the first switchback.

Our ascent didn’t start immediately though. We ended up helping a pair of snowmobilers get their sled up onto the back of their truck after it had evidently died. With that out of the way we finally got going around 11:30am. That’s about about 5 hours until sunset, but I wasn’t too concerned as a lot of the route appeared to be on service road. Indeed that was the case. Kilometer after kilometer of boring service road. 2km in we came across an upper parking lot that many people had parked at and realized we added way more distance than we needed too. We continue on for another 5km before finally reaching the terminus of the road and the beginning of the forest approach.

Leaving the lower parking site
Starting up the service road
The upper lot
Many kilometers of this…
Jacob nearing one of the final switchbacks
Sun was starting to come out to our surprise
Heading into the forest at last

Through the forest we followed an existing set of ski and snowmobile tracks up, hardly ever needing to take the GPS out. We passed a few skiers and a pair of snowshoers making their way down, but otherwise it was quiet and peaceful. At about 1600m we broke out of the alpine and caught our first glimpse of the summit. The route up looked pretty straightforward and we continued on following more snowmobile tracks. I spoke with a pair of skiers on the way down asking about snow conditions and they only reported small pockets of wind slab, so I was feeling confident about the forecast. Avalanche terrain was minimal in any event, so we pressed on.

Metal Dome summit in sight! Still a ways to go from here though
The Black Tusk making an appearance
Nearing the end of the snowmobile tracks

At about 1850m the snowmobile tracks ended and we picked up a track of snowshoes and just followed that. We did find a few wind slab areas, but not on any critical sections of the route. The final section to the summit was wind scoured snow that made easy ascending and finally we had one short vertical wall of snow to overcome before reaching the summit.

Getting closer
Awesome views on the way up as well
Jacob just below the summit

By the time we reached the summit, most of the clouds had dissipated and we had clear views all around. It was at least -10 at the summit and we were a bit under equipped for the temps so we only spent 20 minutes or so on the top. As we started heading down, the sun began to set and our late start all of the sudden became very worthwhile. We had stop multiple times to capture all the views before finally reaching the treeline again.

Summit views
Myself on the summit

The route back was identical as the way up, with a few glissades to make the steeper slopes fast and fun. We hit the service road just as it was getting dark and made the long boring descent back to the car with our headlamps on.

Heading back down with the sunset beginning
Mount Weart and Wedge Mountain
More views!
Back on the service road

Our day ended up being a bit longer than expected with the early parking, but it all worked to our favour by catching the sunset. I can’t complain in the least about the outcome, but for those wishing to make it shorter, the route can be made at least 4km shorter if the conditions are right for driving. That window likely closes early in the winter however.