After a lot of deliberation, 3 VOC Alumni (Phil, Matt and Charlie) and a Mike went skiing. The organization of this trip involving nearly 30 interested people, more than 4 destinations, and a billion e-mail thread. After this immense faff, we ended up being the exact same group that had spent 10 days on the Freshfield’s the previous spring. Our trip planning involved changing the dates on the Freshfield spreadsheet and deleting tents from the gear list.
So, the cause of the faff was that Harrison Hut (or at least its access) has quite the reputation. The reputation was created when Fred Touche, a local legend, once required heli rescue after a failed crossing of the Lillooet river, one of the largest land slides in Canada obliterated the Meager Creek FSR which was the normal approach, a VOC work party creating a new trail was stranded when the road washed away with their cars on the wrong side and a further 20 years of VOC epics getting to the hut (mostly in summer). This type of history made a lot of people very apprehensive. However, with a bit of convincing, 5 of us finally committed (unfortunately, Kyle got injured skiing the day before and had to bail) and on Dec 28 we found out first hand why Harrison has earned its reputation.
Having just 6 days for fun and adventure, we decided to get a snowmobile tow along the 30 km of the South Lillooet FSR to the summer trail-head where we would ski the rest of the way into the hut. The tow took a little longer than expected (really? took longer than you expected? you don’t say!), we started skiing at noon. Given the late start and short days, we knew we we’d be arriving at the hut by headlamp, but not in our wildest dreams (nightmare?) did we imagine that we would arrive at the hut 13.5 hours later (1:30 am) with absolutely nothing going wrong to use as an excuse. We traveled at less than 1 km/hr, with really reasonable trail breaking the entire way. Just afetr dark, Phil almost curled up in a tree well and bivied for the night and I temporarily broke around 22:00, but Mike and Charlie cracked the whip and we all pulled it together and got to the hut in one push.
The summer trail is amazingly easy to follow with many reflective trail markers, the only thing that got better after dark. Just follow the orange bread crumbs and you will find a gingerbread hut at the end! There isn’t a ginger bread house? Charlie, you promised me a ginger bread house! However, we did wake up in a really nice hut in some awesome ski terrain, which is a pretty good consolation prize.
A mere 6 hours later, the crew awoke to the delightful smell of bacon (the only thing that would entice Phil out of his sleeping bag) being cooked by Charlie. A pound of bacon, a dozen eggs and an overdue dinner of bangers and mash later and we were ready to ski! And ski we did.
We headed up Two Doctors, Overseer (return via Roller Coaster), 3 Stooges & Zygo and Madhorse (maps below). All pretty fun ski ascents with some great turns along the way. The weather was spectacular the entire trip. After a huge amount of deliberation and some extensive reading of VOCJ’s, we decided to head out South Creek. Both bridges were out, and we had to cross about 3 km of continuous run-out zone, but given the low avi hazard, it was a really reasonable way to exit. With 700 m of ascent, a sunrise in the Frozen Boot col followed by over 2000 m of descent, the 38 km or so goes by pretty quickly. It was basically the complete opposite experience of the approach in.
We really enjoyed the hut and greatly appreciate all of the VOC effort that goes into keeping Harrison in such great shape and at such a cheap price.
Thanks for the adventure Harrison! You did not disappoint.
Approach – Harrison Hut Traverse
This includes the sled tow, approach via the summer trail and the exit via South Creek.
Total climbing: 3781 m
Total descent: -3779 m
Total time: 06:23:19
Tour – Madhorse
A tour up Madhorse Mountain to checked out the South Creek exit.
Total climbing: 1651 m
Total descent: -1650 m
Total time: 00:47:06
Tour – Three Stooges and Zygo Peak
A pleasant tour in the high alpine. More peaks and runs possible than we completed.
Total climbing: 1542 m
Total descent: -1536 m
Total time: 23:05:38
Tour – Overseer Mountain
The biggest and most challenging peak in the area. You can boot pack the couloir if you want, or just skin around it.
Total climbing: 1938 m
Total descent: -1937 m
Total time: 23:25:38
Tour – Two Doctor Peak
Some really nice turns off of Pine Nut bump and the glacier on the north side. Bring your glacier gear as you will be crossing a glacier.
Total climbing: 1085 m
Total descent: -1135 m
Total time: 05:16:40