Elevation Gain: 890m
Total Time: 6 hours
Date: November 29th, 2022
Now in the midst of acquiring a new ski touring setup, I was hoping to “spread my wings and fly”. Except, I was still figuring out the flying part. So, I’d need something easy to start. Thankfully, there’s plenty of options along the Sea2Sky. Andrea and I had just attempted Anif Peak on snow shoes a few weeks earlier, but ran out of time and turned back. In addition to being an easy snow shoe destination, it’s also a popular ski touring area with several easy descent options. A redemption run sounded perfect to Andrea and I, so Anif it was. The avalanche forecast looked good and I was now equipped with chains for driving higher up the Mulligan FSR. In our last attempt we had to park at the base of the FSR due to traction and ended up sliding (slowly) into the ditch coming down Bonk Hill on Mamquam. This time we were much better equipped.
On the 29th, we made our way up the winding Mulligan FSR under a steadily increasing snow fall. At around 830m we reached a pair of skiers who had parked and advised not to go any further. I heeded their advice and pulled around behind them. Andrea and I geared up and started our walk along the thinly covered road in search of more solid snow. The pair long took off, so Andrea and just plodded along the road chatting away. We reached sufficient coverage at around 920m and started to skin up the road. A few sections were still a bit thin and our skis made discouraging sounds across the rocks, but we pressed on.
At around 1200m we reached our high point from the last attempt and continued following existing tracks towards the junction for Mulligan. Just beyond this junction, the alder’s weaved their spindly arms across the road, hampering our fast pace. We passed the spot where the existing tracks escaped into the open forest, hoping the alders would improve. A few minutes later, we realized the party wasn’t ending any time soon and made the call to dart into the forest as well. This ended up being the right call as travel around the road was easy and fast. We reached the base of the Anif-Mulligan col as the pair ahead of us was just completing their run down a couloir. They pointed us in the right direction and we skinned up their tracks to the col.
The trees tightened quite a bit above the col and we wondered how the descent would look, but we could solve that problem later. Above 1550m, the ridge line opened up and presented long sections of untouched powder for our returned. We climbed all the way up to 1610m before discovering we had reached a false summit. The true summit appeared to be short descent and re-ascent up a small knoll and so I made the call to ditch our ski gear here.
Andrea and I sunk up to our knees in a few spots on the short descent and then up to our hips trying to reach the top of the knoll. When we finally topped out, I realized my error. The true summit was in fact another 100m+ from where we stood, but our flotation options were now all the way behind us. I was committed to the cause now and just opted to sink or swim all the way to the true summit. The snow was exceptionally unconsolidated and it was a trying experience to reach the summit, but we persevered. After another 15-20 minutes from the false summit, we topped out at last.
Sadly, the clouds were socking us in, so we took our standard summit shot and headed back to the skis. The track was a bit more packed in on the way back and we made much faster time returning to the skis.
Now we transitioned for the ride down. Both of us had to renew our shaky ski coordination. Andrea went first and made a few clean turns to the next flat spot. I followed suit and slowly regained my lost memories of ski movement. From there we had a fun descent all the way to the base of the col. The tight trees ended up being straightforward and we found a nice open run below to make up for it.
At the base we had to skin up again due to the long stretch of flat terrain ahead of us. The transition was fast (by our beginner standards) and we made our way back to the FSR and the top of long down hill stretch to the car. We ditched skins once again and made a speedy descent back down, dispatching with the entire FSR in less than 20 minutes. Towards the end, the road was covered with a fresh set of snow which unfortunately cloaked the sharky terrain underneath. I grimaced as my new skis unearthed the sharp rocks underfoot and ditched the skis shortly after. To no surprise there was a plethora of deep gouges, but such is the way with early season skiing.
After a short walk we were rejoined with the truck. I was extra thankful to have the chains now as there was a fresh coat of snow covering some of the icy blobs that were present on the way up. We made a slow crawl down, but avoided any slip outs and safely returned to the highway.