Spring is an interesting time in Whistler. There’s snow in the alpine, it’s warm in the valley, the hiking trails are clearing up fast and we almost have the best of both worlds (summer and winter).
To paraphrase Ron Burgundy “Hey, everyone. Come see how good Whistler looks”.
Here is our photo journal of last week’s trip up to Wedgemount Lake. For detailed trail descriptions and updates please visit: whistlerhiatus.com
In heavy snow years, most of Whistler’s good hiking trails are not accessible until around May when the temperatures warm up and start to melt the season’s snow pack. This year’s different, the snow has been confined to the mountain and the valley is enjoying an early thaw.
We hit the snow line about half way up. This photo was taken in late February and at this time there was severe ice on the trail due to the melt. If heading up this trail before the summer we recommend taking crampons or snowshoes at the least.
At 7km, the Wedgemount trail is short, however it is straight up and straight down with no relief. The trail is very steep and with the weather conditions in early spring, we would say it is for advanced/expert hikers only.
Hiking in summer (with only a day pack) the hike would take typically around 2 hours, one way. This trip ended up taking us 6 hours one way because of the 40lb packs we were carrying with all our winter camping gear – but also because of the sheet ice on the trail about midway up that lasts for about 2km.
Despite the unexpectedly long ascent, we reached the top to witness a sunset to end all sunsets over the Coast Mountains.
The night sky was alight with shimmering stars. So bright that we felt like we could reach out and grab them. The elevation gain was over 1200 metres making it a much steeper hike than most other Whistler hiking trails, but also far more rewarding. As you can see!
We didn’t get to see much of our surroundings when we arrived because we ended up setting up camp in the dark. So after a peaceful night’s sleep it was time for some coffee and off to explore Wedgemount Lake.
Looking to the north, our little tent being overlooked by the majestic Armchair Glacier. In the background you can see Wedgemount Hut and the peak of Wedge Mountain, the highest mountain in the entire Garibaldi Range.
Looking southeast: our camp with the backdrop of Wedgemount Lake. Wedgemount Hut is small and can only sleep 2-4 comfortably, so we decided to take our tent and camp out under the peaks.
Dogs are not permitted in Garibaldi Provincial Park because there are large number of black bears in the area. If you do camp or visit Wedgemount Lake make sure you know what to do if you meet a bear and how to secure your food to keep it away from wildlife.
After spending the morning exploring, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to do some stretches in the sun before the gruelling descent.
Wedgemount Lake is one of the most difficult trails in the Whistler area, but don’t let that put you off. Just prepare appropriately. If you are a beginner or intermediate hiker, or the conditions are challenging like they are right now, add-on extra time for your trip, take extra food, most importantly extra water and always let a ‘safety buddy’ know where you are going and what time you expect to be out.