Wedgemount Lake

September 4, 2011

This is one of the most difficult of the Garibaldi hikes but is well worth the effort. The trail is well marked and mantained but very steep.

From the trailhead, the trail begins its ascent immediately. After 20 to 30 minutes, the trail meets Wedge Creek.

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For the next 2 hours, water is virtually non-existent, so fill water bottles and soak bandannas here. Once across the creek, the trail switches back and continues upward. After passing two rockslides, the trail teasingly levels. Within seconds, however, it takes a sharp left and begins climbing again.

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Second rock slide

Your eyes will finally light on a waterfall that plunges more than 300 meters, From here, the trail seems to rise almost vertically above the treeline and through scree slopes until finally, 30 minutes later you top out.

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Top: Last slope before reaching the pass
Middle: Reaching the pass
Bottom: Rainbow Mountain (2314 m - 7592 ft)

A five minute walk is all that lies between you and the BC Mountaineering Club Cabin. From there, it's a short scramble to the lakeshore.

This place was explored by Whistler pionner Charlie Chandler. In the early 1900s, Chandler traded Wisconsin for the wilds of Whistler in an attempt to deal with a drinking problem.

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Wedgemount Lake

The solution, he figured, was to get away to the woods, some place where liquor wouldn't be handy.

In winter, Chandler ran a trapline on Wedge Creek as far as the pass, then a couple of kilometres down Billy Goat Creek on the Lillooet side. In summer he did odd jobs. But after getting some cash together, he'd head for town, live it up, then head home broke.

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In the winter of 1946. Chandler was found completely frozen, seated in a chair on his porch. His icy corpse, still seated, was transported to Rainbow Station and put on the train south.

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Rethel Mountain (2408 m - 7900 ft)

At the lake's southeastern edge, the Wedgemount Glacier nestles near the shore. You can wander the lakeshore to the glacier's snout.

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Center: Parkhurst Mountain (2494 m - 8182 ft)

As recently as the 1980s, Wedgemount Glacier poured directly into the lake, ocassionally calving a tiny herd of impossibly blue bergy bits.

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Global warming, with its warmer summers and sparser winter snowfall, has shrunk glaciers all over the world, and it has also caused the Wedgemount Glacier to retreat farther and farter upslope.

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Wedgemount Glacier

Since 1850, it's estimated that the glacier has retreated about 1.5 kilometres and lost 75 percent of its area since 1895, with retreat most rapid since 1978.

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Wedgemount Lake

Changes in glacier run-off have effects on the volume and timing of water discharged into rivers, with consequences for water supplies, hydroelectricity generation, maintaining river and riparian habitats, fish populations and recreational use.

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Note: Watch for falling rocks when exploring the glacier

Your way is now downhill, be sure to allow almost the same amount of time to get down as you did to get up. The downward path is steep and the footing is ocassionally tricky.

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Hiking Trip Statistics

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Region: Whistler
Difficulty: Difficult
Time: 7 hours
Distance: 20 km (roundtrip).
Elevation Gain: 1200 meters
Hiking Season: Late July - Early October
Camping: Yes
Dog Friendly: No
Public Transit: No

Coordinates
1. 50.1714705582709-122.866377336905 Elev: 750m Trailhead
2. 50.1626870781184-122.815870167688 Elev: 1892m BCMC Hut

Download coordinates and route. Upload the data to your GPS using GPS TrackMaker

How to get there

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To get to the trailhead, drive north along Highway #99 (Sea to Sky Highway) and continue past Squamish to Whistler. About 12km north of Whistler Village, watch for the BC Parks signs to turn off to Wedgemount. Turn right onto the gravel road, cross the train tracks and the bridge. Turn left and drive for a few hundred meters to a fork in the road. At the fork, go right and follow the dirt road for a couple of kilometers to the parking lot. The trail begins at the far end of the parking lot.

Driving distance from Vancouver: 137 km (85 mi)
Driving time from Vancouver: Approx. 2 hours 15 minutes

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