Last week a friend and I travelled up island and explored Rodgers Ridge, accessed via the Buttle Parkway (hiway 28). We had and amaing hike and mediocre weather but a great day, until we tried to drive out. Surprise! The snow on the road melted, preventing me from passing a 200 metre stretch of ice and snow. Sunday May 3rd, we returned to the same area to recover my car and summit the peak we missed on the first trip; Mount Adrian.
Taken from Rodgers Ridge, the northeast ridge leading to Mount Adrian
The guys picked me up at my house, we were leaving Nanaimo by 6:20 am. I'm happy to report that the day was already turning into a stunner, the sky was clear, the sun was out and there was a warmth in the air.
We made our way past Campbell River and up the Argonaut and Granite Mainlines, to find our starting point. We came prepared to rescue my car. We had 4 shovels of various different types, incase we needed to dig the car, incase the short patch of snow was not completely melted. It was not! However, the shadows of the mountainous ridge above kept the air temperature around 3 degrees and the snow on the road was hard, not just a crust. I was able to get in my car, fire it up and simply drive the 200 metres to the gravel road, where I parked my car for the day.
Total Distance: 15.3 km
Starting Elevation: 1150 m
Max Elevation: 1740 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1075 m
Time: 7 hours
In preparation for the hike we slathered ourselves with sunscreen and loaded snowshoes on our backs. We followed the same route we used last week, leading to Rodgers Ridge and Mount Beadnell before continuing on the ridge to Mount Adrian. As we hiked we noted the changes in the landscape, a lot of snow melted over the week. There were many more trees poking out of the snow and sections of exposed ground at the lower elevations (1300m ) and even up on Rodgers Ridge (above 1600 m) there were sections of the pillow lava emerging through the crust.
Our tracks from the previous week were mostly gone, with only hints of them left in a few areas. Though we carried GPS loaded with the route, it was easy to follow the terrain using familiar landmarks to navigate to the top of Rodgers Ridge, gaining it by 10:30 AM (about 550 metres from the car). The view from the top was outstanding. Last week, low-level clouds obscured our view, today we had nearly cloudless bluebird skies.
Phil photographing a tarn facing south, Rodgers Ridge in the background
Within 20 minutes we stood atop Mount Beadnell (1740 m). From our vantage we had amazing views of Buttle Lake and highway 28 stretching back to Campble River, sections of Strathcona with a clear view of the Golden Hind, Mount McBride, and in the distance to the north Warden and Victoria Peak. On the other side of the ridge we could see Beadnell Lake, Mount Alexander and Mount Adrian. All of the highest peaks were marbled combinations of snow and rock, making them look indomitable.
From Rodgers Ridge facing west, Mout McBride, Mount Titus, Golden Hinde and more
Rick and Phil ascending Mount Beadnell, walking south
From Beadnell, we descended, east of the summit, down a short band of trees that we easily maneuvered through. We continued along the route (following the one provided by Martin Smith on Summit Post. As we traveled we feasted our eyes on Mount Adrian and the northeast ridge that leads to it, the snow mounded and rolled looking like smooth melting icecream. I looked forward to walking it! We wouldn't be so lucky.
Taken from Rodgers Ridge facing southwest, the scramble route covered in snow
The route description we followed has a small section that reads: "Continue south for 800-900 metres with a few ups and downs before the ridge swings to the east and drops down to a saddle at the foot of Mt Adrian’s west ridge. A bench on the right of the ridge crest avoids steep cliffs to the northeast and offers a friendly route to the summit from about midway above the saddle." 1
We had high hopes for this route, we anticipated the likelihood of some scrambling. What we discovered was a lot less friendly than we hoped for. From the bench a section of rock rises at least 30 metres. In the current conditions, with quantities of piled snow on it, it looked impassable!
The bench mentioned in the route description and the scramble route
We hummed and hawed, looking east and west along the northeast ridge that leads to Mount Adrian, checking for an alternate route that more closely matched the description we had. We couldn't find anything. To be sure, we were standing at the point the route described but we were not prepared to go up. We may have been able to struggle up but the descent would be the bigger problem. I put my failure to climb this route as a matter of two factors, inexperience and poor conditions. It may be that which others call easy scrambling, I'm not prepared for but the snow altered the condition of the scramble. I imagine if the sections of snow on the rock were not there there would be several more shelves on which to stand, making ascending easy. We turned back.
On our return route we got a little adventurous and picked a different path. We wanted to explore the lower route that provides access to Adrian from our parking area. We avoided summiting Mount Beadnall by straying to the east (left) of the summit and beginning our descent.
Rick and Phil descending from Rogers Ridge, northwest
We descended quickly in the perfect conditions. The sun continued to beat down on us and warm the snow. The surface was just firm enough to support our weight and allow us to plunge step. We descended over 200 metres in under 15 minutes. Our aim was to meet up with our original route at the col between Rogers Ridge and the ridge leading to Lupin Mountain. In our hike the week before we noticed some flagging that headed off in the direction we were coming from now. We suspected it would meet up and we were right.
It's along our return to the col that we happened upon a little slice of paradise in the alpine. We found the cabin on the side of the mountain. It sits on stilts beside a tarn which has a small stream flowing from it. The cabin is open and we entered to investigate. It is equipped with platforms for sleeping and a wood burning stove. The structure is insulated and has a metal roof, while the entry is the only window it is a sliding glass door. My only complaint about the structure is that it is evident that the wood used to burn is cut from trees near the cabin. We discovered stumps and felled trees laying on our path and there is a chainsaw and jerrycans in the cabin.
the cabin, tucked in the trees by the tarn, below Rogers Ridge
The cabin is situated in a place that makes it perfect for backcountry skiing and snowmobliing. I would encourage those who use it to bring a load of wood in with them when they come. I'm sure seasoned wood will burn better and be plenty light to carry.
The tarn and stream, Rogers Ridge behind
The trip to Lupin was longer than I remember. most of the ridge is now exposed rock and the heat of the sun reflected up into us heating us. We didn't stop long at any one spot, the bugs were out! I'm sure I swallowed at least 8 in the 1 short stop I made for a swig of water. We hit the summit and admired the clear view before descended via my not-recommended-route, the one we used the week before.
We arrived back at the cars at xxx and headed for home. Although I am disappointed we didn't stand on this 6000' peak, we made the right decision to change our route and head to Lupin Mountain. It allowed Rick to check Lupin off his list. The three of us can move onto hiking different areas, perhaps accessing Adrian via a different route.
I will hike Lupin again but when I do I will make sure the Lupines are in bloom!