June 14th, set our sites on Mount Adrian. This was our third attempt at this peak, the two other attempts were thwarted by weather and terrain conditions - 1st, 2nd. We were on a mission, this time we were resolved in our ambition to finally stand on the summit of Mount Adrian. We planned on hiking across Rogers Ridge to access the peak and back; our plans took a favorable detour.
Total Distance: 12.4 km
Starting Elevation: 1137 m
Elevation Gain: 1083 m
Total Time: 6 hours
We used the Granite Mainline to access the now familiar parking spot at 1150 metres. We were hiking by 9 am and made a bee-line for our goal. The snow of our last visit was melted, well early of a normal year, the bare landscape revealed an easy to follow boot path. By the first hour we were taking our first break at the cabin. We looked up to the ridge and plotted a path. The terrain looked impossibly different. Only 6 weeks earlier we walked on packed snow but today there was only patchy sections that would be easily avoided.
Beyond the cabin the trail peters out, we easily picked a route that avoided the precipice of Rogers Ridge. This was the first time we stayed low on the ridge. Traversing the west side saved us a few hundred metres of elevation and a fair amount of time. There is one small steep section of trees we descended but I think this could be avoided if we stayed lower on the ridge. Otherwise most of the hiking is over rock slab and some scree.
A lot of the lower route has easily traversed terrain
Rogers Ridge stretches about 4 km before coming to the long ridge which leads to Mount Adrian. Where the two ridges meet there is a short saddle before a climb is needed to gain the higher ridge. Earlier this year we were turned back at this feature. The toe was covered in snow and weren't prepared to scale the hump to get up to the final ridge, as tempting as it was! Now, the snow was mostly melted. we were able to pick a route up the hump. We chose to a small gully on the left of the hump. We were able to grab handholds of crumbling rock and rely on trees to haul haul ourselves up.
The higher ridge gained via this scramble route
Although not too difficult and not exposed, I was definitely not looking forward to the down climb. Within a minute of walking we were surprised to find a notch we needed to cross. To cross we had to careful descend climb back up. The challenge is the rock is rotten and therefore quite slippery. In talking with Lindsay Elms he talked about about gaining the ridge via a friendly scree slope, I'm wondering if we popped up on the ridge too early. Regardless, we were up and walking the undulating ridge.
Phil scrambling across the notch on the way to Mount Adrian
The ridge top is easy to walk through copses of stunted trees and a few small remaining patches of snow. As we traversed we examined the left edge of the ridge, hoping to spot a different way down. We didn't want to descent the way we climbed up. We faintly hoped to reach the summit of Mount Adrian and find someone at the top who may be able to ferry us back to the car from one of the other approaches. The hope was faint, the mountain sees few visitors each year; judging by the register, less than 30 a year.
The final ridge easily moves west and leads to the bottom of the final summit block. We ascended the north face but it would probably be a lot easier to round the block to the right and find an easier walk that leads to the top.
As we approached the final 50 metres of elevation, I caught a glimpse of something moving on the summit! Could our hopes come true.... I called out, but no one hailed back, too good to be true. But, when we were 25 meters from the summit I caught a second glimpse, a person! I hailed and this time they heard me, they turned; obviously surprised to hear someone. When they turned I recognized him, "Is that Clarke?!" The response back, "Yeah" he paused and then queried "who's that?"
Clarke, Phil and I all belong to the Island Mountain Ramblers, a hiking club on Vancouver Island; we also belong to the Alpine Club of Canada. We greeted each other heartily and the forth man emerged from behind the summit cairn, Gord, a former member of the IMR. What an impossibly fantastic coincidence to find people I know on the summit!
From the summit of Mount Adrian, Mount Alexander on the right
From the summit of Mount Adrian,
Me, Clarke, and Gord, photograph by Phil Jackson
We arrived at 1868 metres at 12:30 pm, it took us less than four hours from the car to the summit, a fast hiking day compared to previous attempts.
They graciously agreed to ferry us back to our car. They had accessed the Adrian via the Buttle Bluffs route off Westmin Road (also known as the Buttle Parkway off highway 28). We followed their track down the southwest face and beside the sub peak of Mount Adrian. Their route was definitely easier than ours, a shorter distance with only one section of scrambling that was easy to move down.
The ride out the Buttle 300 spur was an adventure in itself. The road is not for the faint of heart and requires a full 4x4 with great clearance. Rockfall is a serious concern on the road. Clark was out of the vehicle multiple times pulling nuggets of rock off the route. Summit Post described this route really well, I would say that it is even worse than Martin described. Further, there is a gate that will stop most vehicles.
at one point the wheel left the ground
Though the drive is a lot shorter than the granite Mainline, and the hike is significantly shorter and easier, the condition of the road means that I would recommend the Rogers Ridge Route for most hikers. The approach by vehicle is easy and as long as you are comfortable scrambling.the hike is very pleasant.
I wonder how many people have had their own coincidental encounter on the summit of a mountain. Send me your stories, I'd love to hear.