Thar Peak

Elevation Gain: 692m
Distance: 5km
Total Time: 5 hours 29 minutes
Date: January 21st, 2024

Andrea and I were resting at home after getting rained off an objective in the Duffey Saturday evening. Feeling a bit deflated, I was ready to make a rest day out of Sunday, but just in case I had a quick scan of the avalanche conditions. Lo and behold the forecast was Low/Low/Low in the Hope area. A quick follow up on the weather showed lots of promise around Coquihalla and Manning Park. I had a few ideas tucked in the back of my head, but after too many failed ascents in the last while (Cirque, Snazzy and now our Duffey objective) I tempered my ambition in favour of something we’d be more guaranteed to summit. I knew Alex and Matt were planning to go for Needle Peak on the Sunday, but I messaged him anyways: “Thar Couloir tomorrow?”. With a quick exchange, he and Matt were on board.

The North couloir on Thar Peak is the Coquihalla’s equivalent to Harvey North Ramp. A fun outing up some steep snow with potential for a few short mixed steps and an easy walk off after. It’s no surprise it’s so popular and many parties climb it each year with at least as many skiiers rappelling into it for some untouched powder.

With temps climbing around 2PM we wanted to be off the couloir around 12 at the latest, so we left Vancouver at around 4:30am and hit the plowed road to Falls Lake a few hours later. We hiked up a hard packed snow trail to Falls Lake and then followed skin tracks for another 30 minutes to the fan out zone of the couloir. Once we reached the base I observed some wet loose avalanche debris from the previous day running half way up the couloir. This gave me some indication that potentially lingering wind slabs would likely have been flushed out, but we’d keep our eye’s open as always.

Early morning light on Thar Peak
Walking across Falls Lake
Alex breaking trail ahead
Recent avalanche debris

We climbed to the base of the couloir constriction in snow shoes to avoid too much wallowing and then swapped into cramp ons and traded poles for axes. As we climbed the snow improved drastically easily taking in firm bucket steps. The snow showed no signs of instability and we felt confident to keep pushing higher. At around 1800m the couloir forked and there was some confusion about which way to take. However, the left line looked the most filled in, so we just stuck with that.

Starting the climb up from the top of the fan out zone
We stayed left at this fork

The angle steepened a bit here, but nothing too drastic and we climbed for another 50m before it tapered off again. Not far above that, we reached a narrow constriction with a short 5m thin rocky section. It didn’t look all too challenging and so I climbed up finding bomber neve and a touch of ice to facilitate a fun exit. Alex came up next and we setup an anchor for Matt, while Andrea climbed up as well. We brought a rad line and a few pieces just in case any part was too tricky for our party and it proved to be worthwhile. Matt ascended with ease and now we had a short 20-25 degree snow slope to the end of the couloir.

Matt and Alex climbing up
Myself breaking trail
Andrea, Matt and Alex coming up the steepest section
Climbing up the small constriction
Alex coming up the constriction
Found a good boulder to setup an anchor. A look at the top out as well
Looking back down
This is a short mixed option at the top. Stick right out of frame for the easiest option
At the end of the line

After we topped out we wallowed a short ways up the final summit slope before giving up and donning snow shoes again. Then it was a quick ride up to the top with Alex breaking the last of the trail. On the summit our views had all closed in, so we just spent some time reorganizing gear before descending down the south east face. Alex lead us down through the variable snow, a mix of mash potatoes and hard crust, all the way to the pipeline road.

Nak Peak made a brief appearance
Alex breaking trail to the summit
Andrea on the summit
Heading down
The pipeline road not far below
The car is just beyond!

From there we had a short 15 minute walk back to the car. A grand total of 5km and ~700m elevation gain. One could say a full value outing for sure!

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