Saturday, May 11, 2013

Up Cervus Creek

View from the top of Cervus Mountain. On the left Rambler, Colwell & Elkhorn and the right the North Ridge of El Piveto.

On May 5, Phil Stone and I packed our alpine gear for a 5 day adventure into the Cervus Creek Valley, Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island BC.

Last April we also headed into this same valley only to be turned around 500m up our objective by warming temps and a lot of activity in the coulior. So this time we thought going in later spring things would have fallen down and we would potentially have more rock and snow climbing then alpine ice climbing. Unfortunately things had been way to warm and you could have been purely alpine rock climbing.

Our first camp in the meadows below Colwell. photo by Phil Stone
Me and Mt.Cobb soaking in the sun. photo by Phil Stone
So as we got a better look around and not having rock shoes we put our main objective to the side and started looking for something more condusive to our alpine gear. We continued up the valley soaking in all the unclimbed east facing 600m-1500m basalt walls. While banking all the potential rock routes in my mind that I could come back too in the following summers I hear Phil say, "Hey Max why don't we go climb the the North Ridge of El Piveto? To my knowledge no one has been smart enough to lug all the gear into climb it". I said, "Yeah why not looks cool".  So we continued our snow shlogging up to the Cervus Mountain where we set up our camp on day 3.

Hiking up to Cervus mountain

Stellar looking line on Colwell
Check out that buttress! Ramblers North Summit

Camping on the top of Cervus Mountain... Rambler in the background.

We got up around 6am and headed out of camp around 7:15am for the North Ridge. After a hour and 45 minutes we were at the base of the ridge. The first step to gain the ridge is a few 5th class moves. As we continued along the 1.5km ridge we encountered classic steep snow climbing a number a 5th class to 5.6 mostly unprotected climbing on good rock. The crux of the route was a 15m section of steep 5.6 climbing with excellent exposure! At around noon we decided to follow the line of weakness of the ridge to the unmapped El Piveto Glacier and back onto the ridge between the west and main summits. I descended before Phil with the intent to climb the west summit and meet him back at the ridge whoch worked out really well.... an easy 3rd class jog got me to the west summit shortly and back to Phil to continue on our route.

We climbed a beautiful 4-5th class 60m pitch to gain the ridge again and then it was mainly snow and mellow ridge walking to the summit!

The summit register maybe had 30 entries and Phil had climb El Piveto 20 year prior which was pretty cool! After a nice summit break soaking in the views we descended to the Cervus/Piveto pass and then up again to camp. What a great day out climbing in excellent conditions on a high quality route.

The first step on the ridge. photo by Phil Stone

Approaching the crux of the route. photo by Phil Stone

Phil climbing coming up the crux.

Ridge climbing!

Last step before the summit!!
That night the sunset was excellent and sleeping came easy. We descended back down Cervus creek to the truck where the beer was waiting!

North aspect of the Golden Hinde! photo by Phil Stone

First significant amount of walking with a backpack on since I broke my leg and all went well! Very very happy about that!

Thanks to Phil for another great trip into the Cervus Creek! And for being psyched to get on El Piveto's North Ridge which went at 5.6 R 600m. So much fun!!!
East face of Colwell. photo by Phil Stone

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