The Black Tusk - 7595' - south route class 5.4
With just one more day before my new job starting on July 17th, I was just planning to hang out in Squamish, but I found out that Steven Song wasn't busy on Monday the 16th and he asked if I was interested ion climbing to the true summit of Black Tusk. When he mentioned it is very rarely climbed I was in.
So we met in Squamish and planned our method of attack over beers at Howe Sound Brewery, and crashed in my van for the night, planning to get an early start. The trail up to Taylor Meadows is straight up a wheelchair accessible trail all the way to the meadow, but we figured since we were going on a Monday we'd be fairly clear of the scores of other hikers bound to be up there when the weather is so nice.
At about 6am we drove up to the trailhead (same TH as for Garibaldi Lake), and started up the trail. We didn't see much of anyone heading up, and after a couple hours of easy walking on the most luxurious trail I've ever seen we reached the meadow where two day use huts were located. We continued onwards up the broad basin until reaching the signed trail junction for the Black Tusk lookout off to the left. We made our way up the now steeper trail to its end where the dark colored scree began, and connected a few snowfields up from there towards the SE ridgecrest, reaching it at about 2140 meters. We had already gained nearly 1600 meters so far and it felt like nothing since the trails were in such perfect shape.
From there the boot path beyond the official trails' end meets the ridge, it was another 175 meters or so to the scramblers summit, mainly easy scrambling. We traversed left on some ledges around the base of the upper south facing cliffs, until a point just before reaching the west ridge and located a class 3 gully that allows passage onto the upper slopes above the otherwise vertical cliffs that completely circle the summit area. It was obvious that thousands of people have scrambled here as the rock was polished and all the loose rock was already off the route. Everything was solid despite the rock on this peak being notoriously bad basalt.
Once at the top of the gully, we followed the boot path up another 75-80 meters up to the top of the scramblers summit. From there we got a great view of the true summit, merely 3 meters higher but separated by a 40 foot deep notch. Here we met up with a solo hiker who topped out just a few moments before we did, and on the hike up we only passed one other couple. So far it was a quiet morning. Steven and I discussed how we would set up an anchor to use for rappelling down into the notch. We brought a 60 meter rope and a 30 meter rope; the 30 we would leave for the rappel down the notch and use it to re-ascend the false summit on our return. There was a large rock wall nearby we used, and slung a large rock that would act as the anchor. We then covered that rock with many others within the summit bivy wall and rappelled down.
The rock on the way down actually was fairly solid to my surprise, and even once inside the notch (we had to traverse around to the left side of a small spire within the notch) the rock was still manageable. Nothing was very steep and we made it up to the base of the final 40 foot "scramble" up the rock face you see from the false summit. This was only class 4 though, and although the rock was fairly loose, it was not anything I hadn't experienced many times before. Just because we had the gear, we roped up for the little climb, but only managed to get one questionable piece. By 11am or so we were on the true summit, and upon inspecting the summit register, we found out we were only the 3rd party to summit this thing since the 90s. Wow this is rarely climbed, despite there being hundreds of people up to the false summit every week in the summer. What was odd though, is that back in the 70s and 80s it was done much more often. I kinda get the impression that alpine climbing in BC is not as popular among the younger climbers as it is in WA or Colorado. The register was pretty full, so the next person up should bring some more paper.
The couple we passed on the trail heading up made it to the false summit as we were eating lunch on the true summit. They were both shocked to find out who we were and we had a nice conversation with them across the notch lol! We grabbed photos of one another then after we had our fill of the spectacular views we packed up. Garibaldi and its namesake lake dominated the skyline in glorious fashion to the south, and the Tantalus Range was just begging to be explored off to the west. To the north Steven pointed out Mount Samson, which Jamie and I toyed around the idea of climbing a couple weeks prior. I really didn't realize how big the Garibaldi Park actually is until seeing all the remote peaks within it from the summit.
We used the existing anchor on the true summit to rappel back to the notch, then Steven self belayed his way up back to the false summit, which went at maybe 5.3 at worst. Then he belayed me up and we started hiking back. This is where things got interesting...just as we finished downclimbing the class 3 gully, we were greeted with 3 dozen people all traversing their way to the gully!! I couldn't believe how many people were heading up on a Monday. Not only that, but as we hiked down, we crossed by another 50+ people hiking up! We were glad to have started early to say the least. At 3pm we arrived back at the TH and parted ways. I went back to Squamish to shower at the rec center and hang out at the #vanlife parking area at the base of the apron and chatted with some other climbers for the evening. It was a great way to finish a 7 month vacation
Also, here's the photo of Steven and I on the true summit from Danial and Dana who we spoke with from the summit.
There is so much to climb in BC I am just getting started!
Note: Steven's TR can be found here