Sphinx Hut: Beginner Friendly on Easter

The trail up to Garibaldi Lake was at first bare, and then treacherous ice. In several places people had slid off the trail and obliterated it, making travel on skis annoying. Half the time I was wishing I had crampons. The group moved reasonably fast but gradually slowed down as the beginners ran out of energy. Crossing Garibaldi Lake we had great views of the peaks above the hut, still about 5km away: Castle Towers, Phylis’ Engine, Mt. Carr and the Bookworms (L to R).

Crossing the lake was easy and fun due to the impressive views

Arriving at the Sphinx Hut, some of us were wondering where the hell the hut was. There has been so much snow, that the Sphinx Hut could be renamed the Sphinx Snowcave… Apparently in 1999 a VOC party had arrived to find the hut completely covered, and at first couldn’t find it, so an orange marker on a pole was affixed to the roof. This marker was just out of the snow.

Arrival to the Sphinx Snowcave... It's a high snow year

We dug out a snow kitchen overlooking the lake and the sunset. From there we looked out on the last stragglers crossing the lake. Finally I set out across the lake to help out, since I noticed they were rather far away – I ended up crossing the lake almost to the other side and back again. It was fun and fast, like cross country skiing.

Last stragglers from our group crossing the lake

The next day we decided to go skiing. Maya and I headed up Sphinx Glacier to ski Deception Glacier. Most of the rest of the group followed Katherine in her attempt at climbing the Bookworms. The weather was perfect, and the terrain just looked enormous. We headed up the Sphinx Glacier which is nice and flat, great terrain for a skin track. We got great views from the Deception Col where we had lunch and Maya had a nice nap in the sun.

Heading up the Sphinx Glacier

From here Guard Mountain indeed looks as though it is guarding Garibaldi Lake, although I’m not sure from whom. The ski down the Deception Glacier was excellent – we could see right down to Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk beyond and the snow was fluffy.

Excellent skiing on the Deception Glacier

Then we headed back to the hut – the snow would be getting mushy soon, so we lazed around in the sun. In fact, we fell asleep, and only woke up when we heard two skiers arriving after crossing the Garibaldi Neve (Adam P and Tracy). Later we watched the beginners skiing down from the Bookworms. We could see the black dots inching down ever so slowly – usually cutting across the slope, falling, resting and continuing on…

Sunset over Garibaldi Lake

Just as it was getting dark, the Three Musketeers (Christian, Laura and Nick) arrived after having crossed the McBride Traverse in 2 days, quite impressive considering it usually takes 6-8 days. After feeding them various desserts such as cheese cake and blueberry jam cookies we grilled them about how they had packed, some tips being: tarp instead of tent, summer sleeping bag and no down jacket, lots of fat to eat. I watched Christian wolf down a plate full of margarine with a few crackers sticking out of it… Yuck.

The next day we packed up and were ready to go early(ish). While we were waiting for other people to finish packing, we had some good conversations. Such as why Daniel likes wearing cotton socks for skiing. Katherine was skeptical.

Daniel and Katherine

Setting out across the lake early was good, since the snow on the lake was still frozen hard and we could skate ski across, which is much easier and faster. I tried to teach a few people how to skate ski, but then I noticed that the snow was starting to soften up so I had to rush across. Bruno and I decided to ski down the Barrier, which was easy and much more fun than the damn switchbacks. We managed to meet the trail exactly at the first switchback, aided by an altimeter and some tracks. At the bottom we got comfortable since we figured we had a long time to wait. Some familiar faces came down the trail – Jos van der Burg (BCMC) and the Baldwin family (John wrote the skiing guidebook), who had just crossed the Garibaldi Neve. John had thrown out his back after slipping in his down booties. I reflected on how I’ve slipped several times already in the same way, those booties have no traction. Linda recommended sticking some skin material to the bottom of the booties. Three hours later the last people arrived and we were ready for some food, arguably one of the best parts of a trip…

More photos

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