Elevation Gain: 629m
Total Time: 4 hours 24 minutes
Date: January 10th, 2023
After a massive outing on Mount Brice, I was in need of a break. However, I was still keen to get out on my skis and do something in the coming days. Andrea was ready to join me and we settled on the Coquihalla area as it had the best combination of avi and weather conditions. A look at the map showed a lot of completed summits, but Iago Peak remained untouched. It appeared to offer some great skiing with mostly safe avalanche terrain, so that was an easy choice.
Given it’s a straightforward 12km round trip, we had a lazy start and didn’t reach the trail head until 12:30PM or so. By 1PM we were geared up and skinning down the existing tracks up towards Ottomite Mountain. This section is really quite straightforward and we took the skin track all the way to Ottomite Peak. From here, there was still a track to follow, but it counter-intuitively went up to the base of Zupjok. This would mean some elevation loss along the ridge towards Iago. On snow shoes that’s easy, but funky micro terrain on ski skins can often be a calamity to beginner ski tourers like me.
Sure enough though, the tracks veered back towards Iago once we gained the ridge. As anticipated there was indeed some elevation loss to contend with. There was nothing too difficult, save for one or two steep steps. Then we were back on the uptrack heading towards Iago. The ridge was a bit foreshortened, but there was plenty of snow-capped scenery for the eyes to stray to.
Somewhere around 1500m, the trees faded out and gave way to more exposed alpine. Above we could see the summit and it looked easy to reach. Perhaps no more than 30 minutes later we crested onto the summit where a low-hanging sun awaited us. The views at the top were phenomenal, but the cold temps kept us from hanging out too long.
We transitioned for skiing down and then took turns skiing while the other waited at the top. The ridgeline had excellent snow and we sped down back to the forest. The snow quality deteriorated further in the trees, but we managed to get some good turns in here and there. For the return we skipped past the skin track on the col to avoid having to go up hill again. Instead we cut a diagonal line following old tracks all the way back to meadows just north of Ottomite Peak.
It was a bit tricky in places, but someone else did all the hard work of navigating so all we had to do was follow. Once at the meadows we put our skins back on and rejoined with our original track. After the meadows he had a long section of down hill and made quick work going down the service road. We reached the last few hundred meters to the parking lot just as the sun had set.
On skis, this is a seriously fun objective and makes for a super fast descent. The Coquihalla area is always worth a visit in the winter, so if you need an easy day out I highly suggest Iago!