Trip Report
Playing With Yaks
Monday November 30, 2009 6:24pm
I confess that I've never met a yak in person, except perhaps in a zoo. Someday maybe I will see one in Nepal. However, there is a fine range of granitic peaks about 200 km ENE of Vancouver, one of which is named Yak Peak. It is part of the Anderson River Peaks, which are about as far north in the Cascade Mountains as you can get. On the watershed east of the Fraser River - the Anderson River Peaks get a lot of winter snow, although they're not quite glaciated, but it gets drier as you go east.

I mention all this because the area provides some very fine alpine rock climbing, on domes and spires, and because some of the peaks are right beside the main Vancouver - Calgary highway, the Coquihalla (OK, Vancouver - Bugaboos, or Vancouver - Banff if you have to go to Alberta). And not much more than two hours from Vancouver. The area is somewhat reminiscent of Tuolumne, though more forested and with damper weather in summer. Those who drive by, and wonder whether there's any climbing on those intriguing rocks, need wonder no longer.

The Coquihalla Highway - Highway 5 - goes from Vancouver to Hope to Kamloops, and so on. (Thus the Anderson River Group is Beyond Hope.) It was originally the route of the Kettle Valley railroad, through southern B.C., and sidings on the railway had Shakespearean names, such as Othello. Some of those names still appear on turnoffs and tunnels. The highway crosses a 1,250 m pass, and the ten km southwest of the pass feature many large slide paths, with avalanche control quite similar to Roger's Pass. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Columbia_Highway_5, if you want more.

Anyway, the Anderson River Peaks are west of the highway, in the area of Coquihalla Pass. A knot of domes, ridges, and the headwaters of various rivers and creeks. The biggest peaks are at the west end of the group, about 15 km west of the highway - they're reached from the other side, from the Fraser River. Here they are:
Credit: Mighty Hiker
L - R, Steinbok, Ibex and Chamois Peak. Steinbok is about 2,000 m, and the face on it is 600 or so m. All the peaks in the area are named after ungulates from around the world - Gemuza, Serna, Gemse, Reh, Bighorn, Guanaco, Vicuna, Alpaca, Llama, Zopkios, Zum, Zoa, Thar, Nak, and Yak.

Yak is directly above the highway - in fact, this picture was taken from the highway. (Somewhat foreshortened.)
Credit: Mighty Hiker
There are several routes on the peak, which is 2,040 m. The face is perhaps 400 m, somewhat slabby, and a bit crumbly rock, especially in cracks. But not too bad, and certainly not choss. The route we did, in 2004, is called Yak-Check, in that it combines the better parts of Yak Crack and Reality Check. It's more or less in the centre of the face shown, below the summit.

Credit: Mighty Hiker
It took us two attempts to do it - the area is prone to lightning storms, and we got rained off a pitch up, at about 9 AM. Which was somewhat disappointing. We returned a week or two later.

Credit: Mighty Hiker
The first pitch leads to a large right-facing corner, but you don't climb it - you move out and left, and climb a crack on the outside face.

Credit: Mighty Hiker
This is toward the top of the flake and its cracks, or maybe a pitch above. Fairly slabby, with steeper bits. Never harder than 5.9 or so, but some thought required.

Credit: Mighty Hiker
A nice flake and lieback, maybe half way up.

Credit: Mighty Hiker
Again, looking down as we get higher.

Credit: Mighty Hiker
So far, we've been climbing Yak Crack, which shares two or three pitches in the middle. Now we're branching left onto Reality Check - you traverse some quite exciting flakes and such, and get to an arch formed by a big flake. You then either climb over the outside of the arch, or tunnel behind it for perhap 5 m, and either way end up on its top.

Credit: Mighty Hiker
Looking down on the top of the arch/hole - I fitted into it, so it's no big deal.

Credit: Mighty Hiker
The pitch above the arch - nice steep climbing for a few pitches, maybe even a bit of 5.10. Routefinding!

Credit: Mighty Hiker
A reasonably airy place, about ten pitches up.

The last few pitches peter out into slabby stuff and then gullies, but you end up pretty much right on top.
Credit: Mighty Hiker
It's an easy two hour descent, and there's a rest stop with ice cream and such near where one leaves the car, which is quite convenient.

So if you're passing through in the summer, another reason to stop.

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Mighty Hiker
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Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 30, 2009 - 03:00am PT
Nice one, Anders. It looks like a nice area. Fer Canada. It's all about the approach, no doubt. No wussie flat hikes in, I suppose. If there was, I'd do 'er.
Iron Mtn.

Trad climber
Riverside, Ca.
  Nov 30, 2009 - 03:00am PT
Kick Ass Trip Report!!!
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
  Nov 30, 2009 - 03:16am PT

Any idea who named these peaks and when? I was quite impressed that someone knew the difference between a male yak and a female nak, let alone a zhum and a zopkio.

Since they're all some of my favorite animals, it's great they have mountains named after them. I would like to climb on one of them just to be able to tell my Sherpa friends that I did.
bobinc

Trad climber
Portland, Or
  Nov 30, 2009 - 11:17am PT
Actually, the approach is very easy-- only about 30 mins from car park to base of Yak Crack.
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
  Nov 30, 2009 - 01:32pm PT
why do they call it yak cheese when it should be nak cheese?
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Nov 30, 2009 - 03:17pm PT
gorgeous stone
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Author's Reply  Nov 30, 2009 - 06:45pm PT
Some of the peaks in the area were named decades ago, but most of the ungulate names are from the 1970s, when logging roads started to reach into the area from the west, and people started to do things. Some of the climbers had lived or travelled outside Canada, in exotic places like Peru, Nepal, and South Africa - and thought that peak names after the sheep and goats from those areas (often alpine) would be nice.

The area does have mountain goats, although they tend to stay well away from the roads.

Coquihalla is a first nations word: "Kw'ikw'iya:la (Coquihalla) in the Halq'emeylem language of the Stó:lō, is a place name meaning "stingy container". It refers specifically to a fishing rock near the mouth of what is now known as the Coquihalla River [near Hope]. This rock is a good platform for spearing salmon. According to Sto;lo oral history, the skw'exweq (water babies or naiads, underwater people) who inhabit a pool close by the rock, would swim out and pull the salmon off the spears, allowing only certain fisherman to catch the salmon." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coquihalla_Pass

(Threw that in due to the recent spate of mermaid photos.)

I'll see if I can find out more about zoological names.
Pate

Trad climber
  Nov 30, 2009 - 06:33pm PT
Nice MH. That rock looks stellar.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Author's Reply  Dec 5, 2009 - 11:55pm PT
I forgot. The Coquihalla highway was finished in 1985-86, in time for Expo 86 in Vancouver. The provincial government threw tons of money into getting it finished on time - quite a scandal. Anyway, B.C.'s telephone directories in 1986 or 1987 had a nice picture of Yak Peak on their front covers - sun, snow, peak, forest, highway in foreground. Which prompted someone (not me) to remark "No surprise that the telephone company would put a Yak Peak on its directory."
cowpoke

climber
  Dec 6, 2009 - 07:58am PT
so much rock, so little time...and my BC-envy continues to increase.
Ezra

Social climber
WA, NC, Idaho Falls
  Dec 6, 2009 - 06:58pm PT
Nice Anders, what did the route go at 5.10?
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
  Dec 7, 2009 - 06:00pm PT
It's a fine peak. I've failed to climb Yak Check twice now (although one of those failures was due to having to get my anaphalactic partner to the nearest hospital before he died), but Tami Knight and I bagged the first winter ascent of the peak. Damn near lost Tami on that one (http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=907556&msg=908343#msg908343);

bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
  Dec 8, 2009 - 01:50am PT
I did the entire Reality Chek on Yak with Sean Dougherty in maybe '94. The lower section is tres difficile .... Doing Yak Crak to access upper Reality is a fine choice.

I saw God while leading the unprotected crux of lower Reality Chek. You are waaayy run out doing 5.11- at the crux. I was a bit phuked up for the rest of the route which was much easier. Sean had to bitch slap some sense into me higher up. Perhaps I was having a bad day, or its been retro'd as nothing else I have read makes it sound as bad as it was for me.

Going up the way Anders went would be much more aesthetic. The upper pitches are sweet. Sean and I descended by rapping the route which has all bolted stations.


I know ... what a wussy
I'm scared of bigfoot too
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
  Dec 7, 2009 - 09:43pm PT
Cool TR guys..

Photos a plenty.. That is what is best... Second only to the fact that you all made it back safe!!!

Cheers all!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Author's Reply  Dec 13, 2009 - 03:24pm PT
Yak-Check overall is maybe easy 5.10, though there's a fair bit of easier runout climbing on sometimes less than ideal rock.

Interestingly, there's a place in southeast B.C. called Yahk, not far north of EKat's place in Montana. I worked there one summer doing geological exploration. However, the word "Yahk" has nothing to do with ungulates - it's a Ktunaxa (Kootenai first people) word for “caribou” or “arrow head,”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahk,_British_Columbia
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Oct 31, 2011 - 01:28pm PT
Backcountry granite bump.
Oplopanax

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
  Oct 31, 2011 - 01:38pm PT
Yak Check is solid 5.9, IMHO easier than any of the crux pitches on Snake. Although, for instance, if you wander on p10 you can get into 10- terrain pretty easily by not following the easiest line.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Author's Reply  Oct 31, 2011 - 03:04pm PT
You just need to be careful of Big Yak Attacks.
domngo

climber
Canada
  Oct 31, 2011 - 04:43pm PT
Bump - This was my first real climb that I'd consider alpine - even though you are always in sight of the road! Did it last August as a team of 3. After spending a few weeks in Squamish we decided to forgo the crowds and head out somewhere with some more flavour - this was it.
Oplopanax

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
  Oct 31, 2011 - 05:22pm PT
here's the MP guide to Yak Peak for anyone not familiar with the climbs.

http://mountainproject.com/v/yak-peak/106516402
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 31, 2011 - 05:52pm PT
Very nice, thanks for bumping this gem!
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
  Oct 31, 2011 - 05:59pm PT
Hadn't seen this one before, so thanks for bumping it. I've never managed to complete a summer ascent of Yak, but had fun with Tami on the first winter ascent.

Fun in the sense of "it don't have to be fun, to be fun."
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Feb 26, 2012 - 11:30pm PT
NICE!
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Feb 26, 2012 - 11:31pm PT
Man that looks like fun
Rolfr

Social climber
La Quinta and Penticton BC
  Feb 27, 2012 - 01:06am PT
Let's not forgetabout the thrill of climbing the 12 pitch Yak Crack, where the crux is the 5.8 granulated sugar crack with bad pro.
Great fun on moderate ground, but the moderate jewel in the Anderson River Peaks is, hands down, Chamoix Peak . An alpine version of Diedre, a Squamish classic.
Hoser

climber
vancouver
  Feb 27, 2012 - 01:30am PT
Great fun on moderate ground, but the moderate jewel in the Anderson River Peaks is, hands down, Chamoix Peak . An alpine version of Diedre, a Squamish classic.

Yup just 4 hours of bush to get through first...might as well just do Springbok after all that effort

johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Feb 27, 2012 - 01:36am PT
Nice looking rock.

Thanks Anders.
thekidcormier

Gym climber
squamish, b.c.
  Feb 27, 2012 - 10:00am PT
Awesome TR mighty hiker, looks and sounds like a great place!!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Feb 27, 2012 - 12:39pm PT
Very nice. The first view of Yak in your pictures reminds me a bit of Locke Rock at Courtright, although the rock on the latter is not crumbly.

Neat area. Thanks for the post -- even if I missed it the first two times.

John
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Author's Reply  Feb 28, 2012 - 02:47am PT
So I drove by Yak Peak this morning, and here's what it looks like in winter. We're having a brief late cold snap, and it was -17 at the pass.
Credit: Mighty Hiker
Credit: Mighty Hiker
No sign of Vitaliy's cheburashka, sadly.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
  Feb 28, 2012 - 09:20am PT
why do they call it yak cheese when it should be nak cheese


I've pondered this mystery of the universe many times myself.



Great TR. Glad it got a bump.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Feb 28, 2012 - 10:14am PT
Very nice....looks like Tuolumne Meadows on steroids.
justthemaid

climber
Jim Henson's Basement
  Feb 28, 2012 - 10:17am PT
Playing with Yaks
Playing with Yaks
Credit: justthemaid
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Author's Reply  Feb 28, 2012 - 12:51pm PT
I don't know if Yak has had a winter ascent on its steep side. It's not too hard to ski to its top via a connecting ridge from a moderate neighbour. The side toward the highway is a big avalanche bowl, with lots of control activity - howitzers, snow sheds, and so on. It's likely officially closed in winter.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
  Feb 28, 2012 - 01:33pm PT


le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Feb 29, 2012 - 06:08pm PT
Great TR.

Hoser that picture is making me swoon.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Feb 29, 2012 - 10:36pm PT
Good stuff, Anders. That's a beautiful peak.
Rick
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Author's Reply  Mar 1, 2012 - 12:17am PT
A photo en route on Monday, of the west side of Mount Slesse, above Chilliwack.
Credit: Mighty Hiker
There was a better view from the highway west of Chilliwack, but I couldn't get a good shot. Note odd-looking trees in foreground.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Mar 1, 2012 - 01:43am PT
David and I climbed Yak by doing the SSW ridge ( I think it's that aspect ) having waddled rite up the relatively low-angle heavily snow covered slabs below. Opportunivores to the core; ours was a Lucky Ascent which did include one of my garbage crampons coming loose from it's moorings when we were ( 3rd classing ) most of the way towards the top. I faced quite a slide as Dave held his breath and I got the stupid piece of equipment back attached. We descended NNE or whatever the opposite side is.

I think winter climbing on those peaks is forbidden due to RPG type avi control :-)
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Mar 1, 2012 - 12:41pm PT
WOW! SUPER cool TR! Great action shots. Thank you for sharing!
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Mar 1, 2012 - 02:37pm PT
Nice TR MH. This one is definetly on the list.. Maybe worth taking the long way back from Skaha.
harryhotdog

Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  Oct 2, 2012 - 12:20am PT
Great trip report.I love that area. I remember sneaking onto the Coquihalla in early '85 right before it opened with a group of bcmcers. I was mesmerized by the exposed granite of Yak right beside the road.We scrambled up the Gully to the west. Needle peak is my all time favorite peak to bring non climbing friends as your out of the bush in 20 minutes and hiking up a gentle ridge with good views so quickly.Then there's the scramble at the top.Good value for a 2 hour drive from Vancouver.
Credit: harryhotdog
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Oct 2, 2012 - 01:51am PT
Hey Anders, very cool TR. Glad it was bumped. I remember the first time i saw Yak peak was on the way to expo 86 with my parents on the way from Kamloops when the coke first opened up & it blew my young mind. After driving by it so many times before i climbed i really need to get up there one day.
moosedrool

climber
lost, far away from Poland
  Dec 11, 2012 - 09:31pm PT
Beautiful!
TFPU!
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
  Dec 11, 2012 - 10:02pm PT
nice one Anders! I've never done the check part and it looks like an improvement over the Yak crack part. To paraphrase Rolf:

Let's totally forgetabout the thrill of climbing the 12 pitch Yak Crack, where the crux is the 5.8 granulated sugar crack with bad pro.

Those winter shots and some alluding to russian winter alpinism.... I do believe Max Dejong had some minor epic mid winter. Not wintery enough it seems as he had to seek shelter under the obvious roof for the remainder of the day. I wasn't there but the MOTH avalanche Techs told me about watching them and standing by with probes and shovels.

Some spectacular full depth glide slabs come off of that mother of all south facing slabs.


By the way - who's your partner? It looks a bit like Dick Mitten!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Author's Reply  Dec 12, 2012 - 01:27am PT
No, not Dick. A friend from the BCMC, Nicholas.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Dec 12, 2012 - 04:30am PT
hey there say, mighty hiker...

wow, glad someone bumped this...

as to this quote:
Some of the peaks in the area were named decades ago, but most of the ungulate names are from the 1970s, when logging roads started to reach into the area from the west, and people started to do things. Some of the climbers had lived or travelled outside Canada, in exotic places like Peru, Nepal, and South Africa - and thought that peak names after the sheep and goats from those areas (often alpine) would be nice


nice to see how the names came to be.. :)


and say, sadly i REMEMBER the logging trucks of the 70's ALL over the place, it seemed, whenever we were up in the greatoutdoors... :O


can't see all the pics or i'd have some nice comments...
the first (oops, make that th SECOD,came in--or loaded, better said) *just saw the first is starting now, ...and it looked great...
thanks again...

god bless...
Fletcher

Boulder climber
A very quiet place
  May 10, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
Wow, this TR has been sitting in my "to read" pile since December. So I finally got around to reading it today. When I originally set it aside, it just looked interesting in general.

But holy yak dung, Mighty Hiker Man! This is the peak I have longingly gazed at for the past five or so summers whilst driving up to our friend's summer home on Nicola Lake! I've always wondered about climbing there and once saw some folks at the pass who were getting ready to head up.

Now I know.... the REST of the story! Once of these days I'll definitely check it out! Stunningly beautiful country up there. We couldn't make it last summer, and I'm definitely missing it!

Thanks!

P.S. Wonder if Tami left any single malt up there!
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