Ascent of Whitecap Mountain on 2017-08-14

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Monday, August 14, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Whitecap Mountain
    Location:Canada-British Columbia
    Elevation:9573 ft / 2917 m

Ascent Trip Report

12h20 day hike, McGillivray trail overgrown and boggy in a few places; a few creek crossings, steep vegetated slopes and minor scrambling near summit but no exposure. Topo map shows two summits: westernmost (cairn) c5m higher than easternmost (snow) presently. (See John Stolk CoHP report for a way of avoiding the boggy section of trail)

After ascent of Mt Seton, spectacular drive via Bridge River and Carpenter Lake; Gold Bridge's only hotel closed and up for sale. Arrived Kingdom Lake FSR (reasonable condition, 2wd probably ok) / Piebiter Creek trailhead late eve, L turn immediately after bridge leads in 100m to grassy area with good parking / camping. Checked out start of trail, AOK.

Next morning, off at 0550, chilly fine morning. Wide track continues a short way, passing a sign relating to McGillivray Lodge and asking snowmobiling to be minimised - then bends R and becomes narrow well defined trail, with a lot of encroaching branches in a few spots, needing a haircut; branches wet from ydays rain, a cold shower I didn't need. Trail makes a pronounced L/R S-bend but otherwise pretty straight. Becomes boggy once parallel with Standard Creek; a few bits of boardwalk of various vintage and utility. Trail turns R at well marked fork (NOTE the horse trail mentioned by John Stolk must fork L before this point - I forgot to look for it) and crosses to S side of Standard Creek (going straight on soon ends in a bog); decent trail, a few wet bits, a section diverted around willow scrub, a few tape markers.

Ad hoc log bridge takes trail back to N side, it then climbs low ridge to a cairn, then heads L (vague and boggy 200m) to reappear in forest, is then reasonably clear although overgrown or blocked by blowdown in a few spots. After a quite pleasant stretch it seems set for another bog and willow scrub session, so I escape L and make a rising traverse R across steep flowery slopes, to cross the 2200m saddle SE of Mt McGillivray. I then have to cut back L to miss a steep snow slope (on the way back I cross the ridge a bit further NW, adding a little ascent but losing distance and avoiding side hilling - see GPS track).

The saddle has my first view of Whitecap - involving a 1100m ascent! The valley leading to it is pleasant, initial stony descent, then short heather. Then boulder slope - I cross to R side of creek here and pick up a trail. Where the trail approaches close to the creek it's worth crossing back L (straight on involves willow scrub). I follow creek a little further downstream, then make a rising traverse direct for Whitecap's SW ridge - a few creeks and tree belts but a reasonable line. The ridge has deep flowery vegetation low down but soon I'm climbing steeply on short vegetation, quite efficient, taking it steady on the big climb. At one point I seem to be hemmed in by dwarf pine, but there's a gap at the top. The upper 600m becomes stone, then rubble (pair of birds, Turnstone perhaps?), then boulders before the final easy angled ridge (a little scrambling, probably avoidable). Far below is a rather tired looking glacier, and beyond it some fine scenery.

Summit has a large rough cairn. Summit is out of cloud although surrounding summits are in and out of cloud and I don't see far. I'm here in 6h55, possibly the longest time it's ever taken me to reach a single day summit. After 15 mins I go over to the east summit (snow, staying clear of the cornice) which is a few metres lower, then head down.

Nice descent; back up the Connel Creek valley (the mosquitos discouraging stopping!). A pair of Dippers seen on the way down are still there. At head of valley I keep R, climbing on nice grass, crossing ridge well R of the saddle and its snow slope, then a fairly direct descent gets me back to the McGillivray trail. With time on my hands I make a better job of following it down; my GPS track should have most of it. Down in 5h05.

Back at trailhead, some food; a mule(?) deer grazing while I write up my log. Tomorrow a travel day: having bagged the three Lillooet ultras, heading back to southeast BC for hopefully a few more.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5960 ft / 1816 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5960 ft / 1816 m
    Distance:19.9 mi / 32 km
    Start Trailhead:3613 ft / 1101 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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