Today I had the good fortune of a sunny day and I decided to give it a second try to Needle Peak. Compared to two weeks ago the maintenance crews didn't clean the parking area and I left Juanmobile IV on the opposite side of exit 217.
From the beginning the trail is quite steep, but it takes less than one hour to reach the first part of the subalpine. Here you can have interesting views of the Zopkios Ridge.
Yak Peak is the highest peak on Zopkios Ridge, the other two being Nak and Thar Peaks.
Yak Peak - South Face
Yak Peak is best know for its impressive granite slab face visible as you drive by on the Coquihalla Highway. Yak, similar to the famous Half Dome in Yosemite, is much steeper on one side than the other. In this case, Yak's north face is vertical and about 400m high. Despite a few attempts this face is still unclimbed.
Left of Yak Peak is Bombtram Mountain. It is a massive flat-topped horseshoe summit with short steep walls on the east side and a long ridge joining it to the south Anderson River divide
Bombtram Mountain - 1830 m (6004 ft)
Did you see the vertical line? That used to be an unmanned tramway used as a highway's avalanche control method know as Bombtram. On this method, a munitions car deposit bombs on the summit onto the snow triggering avalanches without a human patroller required. As far I am concerned the system was recently deactivated and the cable removed.
Yak Peak - South Face
Then I did to the plateau, you can see the ridge used to reach Needle Peak on a sunny winter day. In winter the temperature can go as low as -30 C, but today was very warm, not as cold as other days.
Behind Needle Peak, you can see Markhor Peak. It is a twin peak, with a slightly lower south summit named according to the Caribou/Goat theme of the region. The markhor is a goat found in the sparse woodland of the western Himalayas.
Markhor (2172 m) and Needle Peak (2090 m)
I read mixed comments about the Needle, for some people is just a scramble to the summit. From my point of view, if you are a novice you better go with someone with experience. In any case, the final part is a rock climbing but manageable if you stay to the right side of the gully
Hmm, better for another day
In this point you can have views, of both, the Cascades and the Coastal Mountains. Large portions of the Coast Mountains are composed of granite, however even Yak Peak being mostly granite, it makes part of the Cascades.
To make it easier for you to understand, the coastal mountains from Vancouver to Juneau (north) are the Coastal Mountains, the ones from Vancouver to Portland (south) are the North Cascades.
Do you know that the Coast Mountains have the single largest contigous granite outcropping in the world? Keep in mind that the range is approximately 1600 km long and 200 km wide
360 degrees views of the Cascades and Coastal Mountains
On the other side, the small point is a pole used by Environment Canada. On that bowl there is a small lake and from my point of view the best camping spot on this area. In summer the water on the lake is surprisingly warm.
This area offer fine examples of a geological phenomenon know as exfoliation -- rock expansion produced when the rock is exposed by weathering and removal of the overlying rock. This decreases the confining pressure on the rock promoting cracking --.
Time to come back
1. Elev: 1211m N 49:35.674' W 121:07.403' - Trailhead and Parking Lot
2. Elev: 1563m N 49:35.277' W 121:08.056' - Viewpoint
3. Elev: 1835m N 49:34.161' W 121:08.259' - Ridge before final ascent to Needle Peak
Roundtrip length: 9.2 km (5.75 miles)
Time: 4.0 hours
Elevation gain : 624 meters (3672 ft)
Download Video - 33 seconds
Windows - WMV File - 1.55 MB
Driving distance from Vancouver: 197.1 kilometers / 122.5 miles (2.5 hours)