Blanshard Needle and Alouette Trip – Quick Stats
- Range – Coast Mountains, Golden Ears Group
- YDS Rating – Class 4+
- Summit Elevation – 1,550m
- Time – 9:40-6:20, 8h40m return
- Difficulty Notes – steep ascent to Alouette Peak on a decently maintained trail. Moderate difficulty getting from Alouette to the base of Blanshard Needle (some minor bush and slippery slabs), must be comfortable on rock for the initial phase of the final ascent, we choose to climb on rope, and while not entirely necessary, very comforting. Solid rock provides good hand holds for the initial, most challenging section, choss nearing the summit.
- Conditions – to the Aloette-Evans pass was bare, snow nearly continuous from pass to base of Blanshard, needle was snow free
- Park – West Canyon, Golden Ears Provincial Park (Maple Ridge, BC)
- Recommended Gear – Climbing gear
Blanshard Needle and Alouette Trip – In Photos
Blanshard Needle and Alouette Trip – In Detail
It was a foggy day, but no rain!
Dan and I left the parking lot at about 9:40am, a bit of a late start. Just the two of us for once, I was worried about keeping up to my speedy friend!
The trail was well maintained through the forest. Much of the forest was healthy and there was some impressive old growth. Parts of the trail were surrounded by significant blowdown, but much of the trail was still easily passible. The trail steeply ascends to the pass between Evans and Alouette. There is a nice little viewpoint as you near the pass, however, we didn’t get to enjoy any views.
The pass is clearly marked indicating which way to Alouette and which way to Evans. We continued on after filling up our water bottles in a nice little stream. Shortly after the pass we hit our first patch of snow, which was hard packed. We descended a short distance into a little valley, at this point the snow was continuous. There is a small boulder field that is mainly bare and did not prove challenging to cross. The trail leaving the boulder field follows/is a small creek, perhaps temporarily.
We ascended Alouette without difficulty, reaching the summit plateau, which is broad and flat. There is a large concrete summit marker, but in our rush to Blanshard we cruised past.
We began to drop down the west side of Alouette towards Blanshard, making our way through brush and down some slippery small granite slabs. It was a bit difficult, but we noticed there was a flagged route just north-west of us (which we ended up following on the way back up), which made a bit more sense. We continued down a somewhat steep snow slope, following footprints of someone who had been there recently. This was a relief to Dan who was navigating – which had proved tricky in the thick fog and our GPS battery was low so we were trying to save it. We dropped down to the Blanshard south col, and then began the climb back up to the base of the pinnacle.
This part of the climb was longer than expected, and much of the climb alternated between slippery granite slabs and easy walks on snow. We made it to the base of the needle, and from a distance it looked much more daunting than I expected.
As we got our gear on while sitting at the base, I realized the pinnacle was much less intimidating than it initially seemed. We roped up, but it wasn’t entirely necessary. Dan climbed the first section with no difficulty and no protection. He put me on belay for the same section, which I was thankful for as a novice climber, though I felt secure the whole time. From there we scrambled to the summit, which took about an hour. It was fairly easy to navigate the faint footpaths to the summit, with the only challenge being the bridge between the two spires to get to the true summit as it was a bit exposed. On the needle you can expect scree as well as slab, and the trails do lead you through some elfinwood/krummholz (thick, wiry brush or trees shaped by alpine weather).
We reached the summit cairn and took a few quick photos since we were tight for time and we didn’t have any views. There was no summit register that we could find, but there was a little metal summit tag that Dan has seen on a few other summits. There was also a little wasp nest (we think) and Dan got stung by something.
We made our way back down to the base, rapping down the final two sections without difficulty, and then beelined it home since Dan was late for family dinner. We made a quick stop to officially summit Alouette, and arrived back at the truck at 6:20pm. I dropped Dan off at his parent’s house, but ended up staying for food – surf and turf. A good day all in all, in spite of the weather!