Mt Arrowsmith - Lost Gully / South Ridge Traverse
Distance - 6.5km descend Judges Route
Time: 5hrs return
Date: April 8 2006
Cloudy with sunny breaks lower down, cloudy to complete white on summit traverse:
Route conditions:2km overgrown road, flagged route up timber soft snow conditions, natural ice hazards to be aware of, avalanche conditions Med/High
The Lost Gully is situated at the Southern end of Mt Arrowsmith's rock massif. Today's party was a small one being just Kiku and myself. We first started hiking up an overgrown logging road before it turned into a flagged route taking us up into the old growth timber. I quickly noticed a lot of flagging tape hanging in the trees which marked falling boundaries. This was a sad sight to see as I knew probably next time I visited the area this nice stand of timber would most likely be hitching a ride on the back of a logging truck heading out of town. The hike up the timber took a while due to snow conditions. That day the snow was soft making it for a real good calf burn and a couple of curses each time I posted holed into waist deep slop. "Of course ... this was the first time I left my snowshoes at home" One time one of my legs got totally stuck, to a point that I had to take off my pack to get at my ice axe, so to dig myself out. This was a first and I felt pretty stupid at the time, luckily no one was around to see me in this predicament. Close to the 1400m mark I finally left the timber and now headed up a snow slope close to the base of an impressive rock wall, which was Mt Arrowsmith's South peak. Now we headed in a south easterly direction towards the start of The Lost Gully's lower section. "BEWARE !!" When going up this short section I had to be extremely careful of icefall which was constantly raining down from above. All that nice white stuff, which had stuck to the near vertical rock face last week now had turned to ice and was crashing down from the heat of the day. I was no where near as fast as Kiku but swear I made it up this section in record time. Once at the Col took a quick break as it was good views of the East Coast. From there it was short 5m steep step to start of with on veraglas which made it very hard for Kiku to claw her way up and even harder for me until I pulled out both axes and strapped on my crampons. Once past it there was a nice fairly steep and wide snow gully taking us up to a exposed notch just at the base of the South Peak. Here it was total grid lock as It was here I ran into two other climbers who had just come down from the Peak and were now heading back down. I asked them why they were not doing the full traverse but they seemed to be a bit concerned about the snow conditions and the front which was moving in at a fast rate heading straight for us. My next question was if the ridge was totally snow covered and one of them stated it was. As we parted ways both were talking highly of Kiku's Lost Gully ascent, which made me proud of my little mountain dog. Double checking my GPS to make sure to have lots of battery life before we ventured onward into the white Abyss. Climbing the last 50m up to the South peak was fairly exposed and could see some folks wanting a rope for this section. The views on the south peak was next to nil. Then it was a white out. This made it for an interesting traverse, luckily it cleared off every once in a while, giving me views at what's ahead. The last 300m or so I did in total white condition basically feeling my way across. I pretty near took a wrong turn just before the main summit which would have put me down Goggle's Gully but my sixth sense told me to turn right and before I knew it I was standing on the main summit. For any one who has been on the peak of Arrowsmith knows of the large Radio repeater and the large rock cairn. Well While standing with my back on the repeater I could not see the rock cairn which was less than 4m away from me. Believe it or not... it got even worst when descending off the summit rock cap, I've never been in visibility that sour before which I won't soon forget. Might as well been walking around a cave in complete dasrkness without a headlamp, instead of being black it was white. Once I had dropped down to the 1600m mark the sun was shinning in my face and looking back at Arrowsmith's peak it was still shrouded under a thick blanket and stayed that way for the rest of the day. Once down at the trail head of the Judges Route I choose not to walk the spur line down to the main road. Instead I saved myself a 3km walk and crashed through the bush for 500m making a B-Line to the Main Line…. Hey !! might be onto something. I'll be back again soon as it is a classic way up and the traverse has to be done with a view next time.
I hope that you enjoyed viewing the Image Map of the Lost Gully South Traverse route