Traverse Peak

Elevation Gain: 3,383m
Distance: 35.89km
Total Time: 33 hours (across two days)
Date: March 19th, 2023

Traverse Peak is the 2460m summit that lies a few kilometers north of Mount Breakenridge. They’re separated by a long ice field with at least 300m of elevation loss between them to reach either peak. Brayden, Alex and I had just finished a summit of Mount Breakenridge the night prior and now in the chilled 6am air were prepping to head to Traverse Peak. It was a rough start as my boots had been completely soaked from the day before and were now frozen blocks of leather and rubber. I resigned to having frozen feet for the next few hours and finally forced my feet in.

It’s go time

By 6:40am we were on our way and following the previous evenings boot prints across the south bowl. From there we dropped over 300m down in the large depression between Traverse and Breakenridge. For this early start we were rewarded with the ever-captivating alpenglow across the coast range. Once we reached the base of the depression we started a circuitous side hill route and the frozen tarn at the bottom. Then came decision time. Steven and his team and gained the east ridge of Traverse via a steep bowl on the south side. We weren’t keen on the snow conditions on that aspect and so opted to ascend for a steeper, but much shorter section of snow on the east side of the ridge.

Early morning light as we start our descent down to Traverse Peak
Brayden and Alex surveying the route up to Traverse Peak
I couldn’t decide on the best photo so you get to see all of them
A long descent down
Panorama of Traverse Peak
The sun just rising above the horizon
Aiming for climber’s right of the headwall on this ridge
A look back at our tracks
Avoiding this depression
Looking up the steep face to gain the ridge from the east side

We briefly transitioned to cramp ons and then boot packed up with perfect bucket step conditions the ridge. Once on the mellow ridge again we swapped back to snow shoes. I took an extra minute (more like 10) to try and warm my feet up as they were feeling completely numb after 2 hours in cold, wet boots. Alex had some hand warmers so I taped those to my feet and shoved them back into my boots. We pressed on from there under mostly firm wind scoured snow. I had stop again a few hundred meters later as my feet were in even worse shape now. I realized the heat warmers were cutting off circulation and in any event need oxidization to actually do any warming. I quickly stripped them off and resigned to the original set up, which did actually improve things relatively speaking.

Myself leading the charge up
It’s decently steep, but short
Brayden and Alex coming up
Looking ahead at the foreshortened ridge walk
Brayden heading up the wind scoured ridge
Brayden leading the charge towards the eastern/false summit

At the top of the ridge, around 2350m we cut climber’s right around to the north side of the ridge. We contoured around the eastern sub-summit and then regained the ridge with the summit now in plain site. The ridge proved straight forward until the last 50m or so. Ahead of us was a more broken, rime covered section of ridge that could not be easily walked on with snow shoes. I believe on Steven’s trip this part was more filled in and they were able to snow shoe it. We had to swap to cramp ons and drop down a short scramble step to find easier passage just below the ridge line proper.

Contouring around the north side now
Neat wind features on the ridge
The eastern sub summit
Looking at the final ridge to Traverse Peak
Straightforward for the first bit
Looking towards Mount Breakenridge
Mehatl Peak and crew. If you know, you know.
The last section of broken ridge. Photos don’t quite capture the challenge ahead, but you get the idea
Down climbing this short step on the ridge
Brayden and Alex making their way down

Thankfully, it wasn’t too technical and after a short section of front pointing down we were on the tame slopes up to the summit. The conditions were firm and made for fast travel with no need to swap back into snow shoes. A few minutes later we stood on the summit at last! It was 10am now and with a long day ahead of us still, we made our way down without much of a summit break.

Heading up to the summit!
Looking North West at Mount Douglas and crew
Myself on the summit
Looking at the broad ice field between Traverse Peak and Mount Breakenridge
Summit Panorama looking north towards Cairn Needle
Brayden and Alex on the summit

We reversed our course back along the ridge and paused for a quick snack below the eastern sub summit. Then we continued all the way down to the point where we originally gained the ridge. The sun had warmed the slope up enough that we didn’t bother to don crampons and just took our original bucket steps back down to the base of the ridge. Here we paused for a longer snack break and then started the long march back up to camp.

Heading down
Wrapping back around the eastern sub-summit
Nearing the end of the ridge
Down climbing that short stretch on the east side of the ridge.

Rather than do our long traverse around the depression at the base, we decided to take a more direct line back up the slopes. It cost us a bit more elevation loss, but ended up being worthwhile. Brayden then went into over drive and proceeded to break trail for us all the way back up to the ridge. Here we tried to out smart the terrain and find a more direct line to camp to avoid the extra 50m of elevation. However we ended up at the top of the wrong gully and had to do a fair bit of extra faff to finally get back to camp.

Let the journey begin

Once at camp we paused for 40 minutes or so to refuel and pack up before heading down that gully. The snow was quite saturated on the way down, but not reaching that critical point just yet. Nonetheless we were thankful to have not been up there an hour or two later. From the base of the gully we followed our tracks all the way back into the forest and made quick work back to the cut block. Once on the FSR we actually had to rebreak trail thanks to the melting snow conditions, but it was downhill and manageable.

Heading back down that gulley
Back up that first lake
On the service road again!
Back at the truck with lots of time left!

After about 3 hours from leaving camp we pulled up the to truck with plenty of daylight to spare. It was an arduous two days, but very fulfilling and exactly the type of adventure I needed. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to do it with either!

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