Mount Steele

Elevation Gain: 1,101m
Distance: 20.67km
Total Time: 2 days
Date: February 18th-19th, 2023

As is often the case, long weekends will sneak up on me without notice. I’m usually left scrambling for a good use of the extra day and the last minute nature rules out almost anything that requires booking. The February long weekend was another one of those calamities. Compounding the issue was a harsh looking avalanche forecast all weekend. However, Andrea and I were really keen to get out on something though; anything at this rate. We spent a good few hours each perusing maps, cross-checking forecasts and analyzing avalanche terrain. As I broadened my search out of my normal areas, I came across a tame looking summit called Mount Steele. It’s located in the Tetrahedron Provincial Park and it’s accessed via a network of trails and cabins. While there didn’t appear to be any technical aspect to reaching the summit, it appeared to offer nice alpine views in the heart of the park. Sweetening the deal was a series of cabins along the way that we could make an overnight stay out of; no booking required.

Andrea was keen on the idea and now we just had one hurtle to over come… the long weekend ferries. Thankfully, this ferry is for The Sunshine Coast and I figured if we got there an hour before the first morning ferry, we’d make it on no problem. Andrea and I packed up and then got to bed as early as we could. 6am rolled around and we left for the ferry terminal, arriving by 6:30am and made it on as planned!

A dreary start, but we made the ferry!

We stopped for some breakfast/coffee on the way and then headed towards the Gray Creek Service road. It ended up being snow free up to 500m in elevation and then the last 3-4km were on packed down snow. No issue for the truck, but it would be wise to have chains here as it could definitely get icy. At the parking lot at least 4 other groups were gearing up for their weekend adventure. Some were headed for Mount Steele, many others for the different cabins around the area. Personally, I had never heard of this area, save for the park itself but it seems to be a very popular location for the locals.

Heading up Gray Creek FSR
Arriving at the parking lot

With our skins on, we headed up the well-tracked trail and followed an old service road for about 4km. This eventually brought us out to the edge of Edwards Lake where a pleasant walk across awaited us. At the end of the lake we ascended up some rolling terrain before arriving at Edwards Cabin. Our plan was to stay at the Mt. Steele Cabin as its much closer to the summit, so we pressed on.

Andrea leading us up the service road
Nearing Edwards Lake
Andrea skinning across Edwards Lake
Looking back at our route
Reaching Edwards Cabin

By now the afternoon heat was starting to bare down on the snow pack. The first casualty was Andrea’s touring skins. The snow clung in massive clumps to the underside of her skis; halting any quick progress. It got bad enough that I offered to swap skis with her and then we continued on up the now gradually steepening trail. The extra weight on each foot was almost comical and I was forced to just walk as if on snow shoes by the end of it.

Breaking out above the clouds
Let the fun begin!

Somewhere around 1400m we broke out of the forest and caught our first glimpse of the alpine. The steeper slopes looked heavily laden with a deep snow fall and we picked our terrain up to the cabin carefully. We reached the col between “Hippo Peak” and Mount Steele around 2:30pm and then reached the cabin shortly after. We paused there for some food and to sort out our sleeping arrangements for the night. Already around 6 people occupied the cabin, with another 10 rumoured to be arriving. However, there was lots of room and that’s all the fun in a cabin outing.

Nearly out of the trees and what an amazing day it’s turning out to be
Andrea skinning up
Nearing the cabin
Looking back at “Hippo Peak”
Our first view of Mount Steele
Looking at the tame slopes up to the summit
Mount Steel cabin!

An hour after arriving at the cabin, we started the final plod up to the summit. Skiers had been riding the slopes all day so there was an easy skin track to follow up. We skirted around one steep roll below the summit and then made the easy top out just before 4PM. There was at least an hour and a bit until sunset, but we were keen to catch it since we’d just have a short ride down to the cabin after. We devised a plan to soak in the views until we got cold, ski our run then skin back up one last time to catch the views.

Heading back out
Nearing the top
Last roll to overcome
First views of Tetrahedron Peak
Andrea skinning up with a few other skiers in the background
Another shot of Andrea this time taken from the true summit

After our pleasant hang out on the summit, above a sea of clouds, we started our run down to the cabin. The snow was crusty now in the cooling evening air, but we made the most of it and got some fun turns in to the bottom. Shortly after we were skinning our way back up to the summit. We hung out again for another 30 minutes, watching the sunset. Despite being so close to the cabin we had the whole place to ourselves until it was dark. Andrea and I had one more run down to the cabin and then settled in for the night.

Post ski run, heading back up
Looking West towards the setting sun
Settling in to watch the sunset
Panorama of Tetrahedron Peak and Cougar Peak
A close up of Tetrahedron Peak
Cougar Peak
Sunseting at last
Andrea and I on the summit
One last look at our ski line

On the following morning we had a pleasant ski ride out, albeit under some firm/icy conditions. We skinned from Edwards Lake to the truck in relatively quick time and that concluded an awesome first trip out to Tetrahedron Park.

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