Elevation Gain: 2,186m
Total Time: 3 days
Date: July 31st, 2022
Stats include all days in the Vayu Massif area
Elise, Derek and myself were now on our third and final day exploring the Vayu Massif area. We arrived into the area on the 31st with enough beta to succeed in ascending Mount Vayu’s NW Ridge and an easy add-on of Vayu E1. Now on the last day, we were contemplating what to do. No matter what, we’d have to reverse our tracks through a long bushwhack traverse and no one was super keen on starting the day off with that. Looking around from our camp site, the sky line was dotted with numerous interesting peaks around Vayu, but one nearby summit really caught our attention.
To the north west of our camp site stood an aesthetic granite tower rising above a sandy striated ridge. At the center of the tower, a long chimney feature offered an interesting route option and potential for a few pitches of alpine climbing. In order to reach this southern face, we’d have to scramble up a steep section of lateral moraine and then a loose chossy gully to reach the ridge. Then it’s into the unknown. We’d only come prepared with beta for Vayu, so an exploratory ascent had us all excited. This area has seen many ascents before, so its unlikely we’d be the first, but with no beta it’s completely up to our abilities to find a way to the top. At the time we didn’t even know the name of the peak, but after some post summit research we discovered it’s called: Bhima Peak.
Now that Bhima Peak was set as our target for the morning, we set about tearing down camp so that we could make a quick exit once we returned. By 9:40am we were geared up and making strides towards the lateral moraine on the north western terminus of Pancake Glacier. We weren’t really sure what we’d expect in the chimney, so Derek carried the 8mm rope, while I carried our trad rack and the shared gear in a backpack. Reaching the moraine was easy, but now ascending up quickly turned into a crux. The debris was rock hard with a thin film of sand on top and that meant carefully hopping one loose rock to the next up the steep slopes.
After a tedious scramble up, we reached the top and then selected a gully just to our left to ascend up. From camp it looked too steep, but now up close it presented a moderate choss path to gain the southern ridge. There were no shortage of loose rocks, but we made it half way up and then found bomber rock at climber’s right to complete the ascent up the ridge. From where we exited the gully, it was about 600m of scrambling to the summit tower. The terrain was mostly easy ridge rambling, but there was one gendarme to climb up and over with some fun 3rd class moves and then we bypassed a second gendarme to reach the base of the chimney.
Now at the base of the chimney we had a much better look at what the route entailed. A little disappointingly, it looked like 3rd to low 5th class at the most and that meant we wouldn’t be whipping out the rope. Nonetheless, the scrambling still looked really fun with a few narrow moves through the chimney to gain the top. I swapped into climbing shoes, while Elise and Derek started the first section up. These first few moves involved fun stemming up a short dihedral and then out into more open 3rd class terrain. We scrambled up to the last 15m of the chimney and then the terrain turned into low 5th, although it didn’t feel too exposed being in a narrow channel like that. A few more stemming moves, squeezing through a tight section in the rock and then mantling up and all three of us where now past the chimney and up on the summit. To no surprise we found a cairn at the top indicating previous summits.
It was a perfect warm sunny day on the top, so we hung out shoes off taking in the sun for awhile. Perhaps 40 minutes later and with the day getting on, it was time to head back to camp and bushwhack out. Rather than downclimb the chimney we found a 3rd class gully on the north eastern side of the tower and started our way down that. One 4th class section guarded the descent on the easy sandy slopes and it proved a bit tricky with the loose rock and heavy backpack. Derek lead us through this section, with Elise and I following up after. Then we were onto the broad sandy southern slopes and practically plunged our way down the entire 350m to the base.
We grouped up at the bottom and walked together back to camp. Derek went about making some last minute lunch while I repacked my bag and then we were off again. On the descent we decided to stay higher along the ridge to avoid circumnavigating the ridges contours to the glacial outflow. Then Elise set a blistering pace, guiding us through long traverse back to the Jamie Creek Spur road. Having gravity on our side actually made the traverse manageable and except for the return of the mosquitos the route back wasn’t even half as bad as on the way up. Just shy of 5PM we reached the cut block at the end of the spur road and then rejoined with road itself shortly after.
Now we made one more important change on the descent and that’s sticking to the road for the entirety of the return to the pump station. We knew there’s no way across except the concrete divider but we figured we could manage that. Once we reached the pump station, Derek lead the way across first. He mantled down the 5ft wall above the divider and then I passed his bag down to him. From there it’s an easy walk across and then guard rails on the other side present an easy option to haul oneself up and over. I followed suit, mantling down and then guided Elise down onto the divider as well. On the other side Derek took my bag while I hauled myself up the rails. Elise came up shortly after and now the walking portion of the journey was complete.
Derek went to recover his dirt bike from the hiding spot and then ferried us one at a time back to the truck. Returning down the winding road with the wind blowing and the valleys high above us, proved to be a major highlight and permanently etched that beautiful and rugged area into my memory. The drive back was easy with the Hurley in great condition and we even had time to stop at Splitz Grill in Whistler from some amazing hamburgers. Despite our initial set backs with the original objective, this alternative plan to the Vayu area ended up being so much more than I could have hoped for. Having 3 days in a rugged alpine range, away from the distractions of life with good friends is the ideal of “living” to me.