Pemberton 2011: Day 3, Saxifrage and Cassioppe’s col
After spending a day and a half off the mountain, we all returned for another few days of camping and hiking around Lake Valentine. Luckily for us, we managed to skip two days of harsh rainy conditions. Yep, basically everything we had left up at camp was soaked! Coming by helicopter early in the morning was super cool though because we had to fly very low, under the clouds – a beautiful scene to observe from the helicopter (see below).
Before I continue with the story and pictures of our third expedition, I recommend you read a few of the related articles I’ve posted over the past few weeks, if you haven’t already:
- Pique Magazine’s article on Jon and Rachael
- Tim’s press release before the searches
- Day 1: Bushwhacking near Peq Creek
- Day 2: Cassioppe’s Ridge
View of the clouds in the lake Valentine area from helicopter.
So, our third expedition took us to an even better place than the first two. As the map above and the image below show, we walked all the way up to the col between the two peaks. It’s easy to see the area from the Lake Valentine pictures, which show the two peaks. It doesn’t look very far in the photos, but as we learned during this trip, mountain walks are always longer than they look. It took us about 3.5 hours to get to the col, but it gave us the opportunity to see the huge cliffs that are hiding behind Cassioppe Peak. We also saw the whole valley behind the col, which is one of the possible exits off this mountain ( though a somewhat hard one due to some swampy areas). We also saw (partially) the glaciers behind Saxifrage, which is another potential route people take on this mountain (en route to Cirque Pique).
We chose to go to the col to get an idea of the alpine terrain and also to explore an area we hadn’t had a chance to see already. We did the contour of Lake Valentine on the north side and found a nice campsite at the edge of the lake (see pictures below). This area seemed like an obvious place to camp for a couple, which made us wonder if Jon and Rachael could have camped there. In fact, we found a few items there that will be sent to a DNA lab to find out if they belonged to them. We also found a fire pit and some nail clippers. We’ll hopefully have news regarding these items this winter.
View from the campground on the North side of the lake valentine.
After looking around the north side of the lake, we crossed a stream and basically walked up all the way to the col. There were many snow patches, which we had to cross with care because one slip could take you all the way down to the rocks below. (You may notice that the snow has a funny reddish color; this is because of some fungus).
After taking a few stops for photo opportunities (flowers!) and to listen to a few rock avalanches (sorry no pictures!), we finally reached the col between the two peaks. It gave us a really good understanding of why people love to hike and what Jon and Rachael loved so much to do. Even though the clouds were taking over the peaks, we could still get a very good idea of their majesty (and it added a bit of mystery).
Cassioppe’s hidden cliffs behind
Panorama from the top of the col, Cassioppe, Lake Valentine, and Saxifrage to the right (in clouds).
Startrail over Cassioppe’s col
I had time to shoot another star photo while sitting by the fire that night. The nights were cold but mosquito-free (the bugs were *heinous* during the day) and they gave opportunities to shoot some pretty awesome star pictures. Please take time to check the photo gallery below, as it will show the high quality pictures in a large format.
* click an image for larger size, if you are reading from Facebook, you should visit my site directly to get higher quality pictures. (cliqué sur une image pour la voir en grand format – si vous lisez directement de Facebook, vous devriez visiter mon site directement pour voir les photos en meilleur qualité).