Trip Report
Lost Gully Mt. Arrowsmith Spring 2013
Sunday April 21, 2013 11:15pm
Lost Gully Mt. Arrowsmith-

I've lived on Vancouver Island almost all my life and out of all 4 seasons spring has usually been my least favorite. We are on the "wet" coast after all, but in the last 3 years we have had a few patches of unseasonably good weather roll through in late march and onwards. 3 years in a row we had stellar skies for our annual 4 day Easter sailing trip. I was beginning to enjoy the spring ski-touring that the coast had to offer but when the snow started to harden, I yearned for a good alpine slog. I hadn't had the axes out in a while and I wanted to climb something fun.

In the weeks of late may and early april I had made a few aborted plans to climb Mt Arrowsmith, this peak holds significance in mountaineering history not only because it is one of the largest summits on southern Vancouver Island but because it was from here that Don and Phyllis Munday first caught a glimpse of Mt. Waddington or "The Wad" as it is affectionately known.
Mt. Arrowsmith from Cokely summit
Mt. Arrowsmith from Cokely summit
Credit: Synchronicity
Mt. Arrowsmith has in recent years become a mini alpine playground with many stellar gully and ice routes and superb logging road access. Finally we got a saturday forecast that looked like it might hold for the day and at 7:30am we met in whiskey creek for the drive in. We hauled ass along the logging roads and parked the car at the base of our spur. We had decided to go for the Lost Gully Route, a mixed snow, ice, and rock route that was supposed to be stellar in spring, an island classic.

The start of the approach is standard, your typical Island Logging slash, something that can only be appreciated by true west coast bushwhackers.
Credit: Synchronicity
But soon we were above the worst of it and into the trees, after a bit of a slog we gained the shoulder leading up to the snowfield below the base of the route. The morning air was crisp and the views were not so bad either.
Credit: Synchronicity
After taking a quick break to put on the pons, we gained the snowfield and traversed below the south summit to the base of the two gullys.
Looking up the lower gully
Looking up the lower gully
Credit: Synchronicity
Whats the best part about spring though? The weather can change in an instant, and by the time we hit the base of the first gully, the weather was starting to sock in. It started with an eerie early morning fog but it would not deter us, we were going up. We kicked steps up the lower gully as it gradually steepened before it deposited us at a notch in the ridge. A small mixed rock and ice step blocks entrance to the upper gully and must be negotiated.
Credit: Synchronicity
Credit: Synchronicity
Mixed rock and ice step between the upper and lower gullies
Mixed rock and ice step between the upper and lower gullies
Credit: Synchronicity
The weather was starting to worsen as the wind picked up, visibility was deteriorating and this bench was open to weather from both sides of the mountain. We decided to push ahead and get into the upper gully, we climbed up the base of the mixed step and found a traverse across the rock, this led to a few good sticks with the ice tools, some steep snow and bush/tree climbing and voila!

As you enter the upper gully the angle begins to steepen, we kick our points in and trudge upwards. A fall here and you'd slide so fast you'd shoot off the rock step and land in the lower gully.
Credit: Synchronicity
Credit: Synchronicity
Our feet felt solid though and onwards we trudged, steeper and steeper until the gully split around a small rock. Right led out onto a lower spot in the ridge, left was steeper and direct to the south summit, we chose the latter and with calves burning we kicked our way up the final frozen snow rib with great exposure dropping off both sides of the mountain.
Credit: Synchronicity
We smashed through a small cornice and flopped onto the south summit. Our plan was to traverse the bumpy ridge and scramble up the remaining 4th class to the main summit but by now the wind was in full force, white out and snowing... did I mention this was April 13? The weekend before we had 19 degree weather...

We didn't stay for long as we quickly reversed our steps dropped back into the and kicked our way back down the gully, reversing the rock band until we arrived back at the base, where the weather promptly turned bluebird, typical spring.

Of course reversing our route meant back out through the steep forest, through the logging slash, rednecks shooting rifles on the logging roads near the car, and all the goodies a typical slog has to offer.

I'm learning to love the spring these days, there is excitement in the unpredictability, a delight in the snow cover, a joy to the sogginess...

  Trip Report Views: 643
Synchronicity
About the Author
Synchronicity is a trad climber from British Columbia, Canada.

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
  Apr 21, 2013 - 11:26pm PT
Looks like burly conditions. Thanks for sharing.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Apr 22, 2013 - 12:32am PT
Cool dude! Always wanted to get up there. That gully looked ski\ rideable, any thoughts? I've heard good things.
gf

climber
  Apr 22, 2013 - 07:16am PT
There is lots of good climbing on arrowsmith-heres' one looking down f...
There is lots of good climbing on arrowsmith-heres' one looking down from a belay on some lost classic on mt arrowsmith climbed 1986 by don newman and a.n. other -this shot taken by phillip stone during an ascent in feb 2013
Credit: wild isle -p stone
Synchronicity

Trad climber
British Columbia, Canada
Author's Reply  Apr 22, 2013 - 08:06am PT
Hey GF is that a picture of the Newman Foweraker ice route to the main summit? I've had my eye on doing that route for 3 years now, hopefully next winter when its frozen solid. Quite a stellar route you picked there

Big Mike, the gully is definitely skiable in the right conditions although theres a few spots you'd want to watch out for, and you'd need to downclimb the rock step unless you're into cliff drops ...
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Apr 22, 2013 - 08:13am PT
Looking bloody Brittish up there mates! Good on ya!
Legs of steel!

gf

climber
  Apr 22, 2013 - 08:13am PT
bingo mr jung!
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Apr 22, 2013 - 08:19am PT
Fun pics and entertaining read!

"The weekend before we had 19 degree weather..." Celsius, yes?

survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Apr 22, 2013 - 08:27am PT
This is beautiful!

Good ol' Northwest.
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Apr 22, 2013 - 08:39am PT
The start of the approach is standard, your typical Island Logging slash, something that can only be appreciated by true west coast bushwhackers.

That quote and the accompanying photo sure struck a chord with me, but then so did the beautiful first photo. Nice writeup, but that looked like a little more than a "alpine slog".

Looks like a another good weather window has settled in until Thursday here in Seattle.

Thanks
Synchronicity

Trad climber
British Columbia, Canada
Author's Reply  Apr 23, 2013 - 02:25pm PT
Yes 19 degrees celsius over easter and white out and snowing the following weekend. I've never been to Scotland but I imagine the winter climbing is similar. Lots of gullies and varying degrees of frozen ice/snow/slush/sugar.

Big Mike, a better option might be the main gully route as it looks wider and more open with less rock etc. in the gully proper
10b4me

climber
  Apr 23, 2013 - 02:29pm PT
thanks for posting up
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 23, 2013 - 04:06pm PT
That looks like serious adventure for a day trip!
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Go