Mount Harvey

A view of Mt Harvey and its sheer north face, the site of a heartbreaking tragedy this past weekend where 5 snowshoers died when a cornice collapsed beneath them. My thoughts go out to their families and friends, especially to the surviving member of that group. I’ve often wondered about tackling Mt Harvey in the winter, but I’ve always had those cornices (and my relative inexperience in winter backcountry travel) at the back of my mind, which has always led me to leave it for another day.

My heart sank when I heard that SAR teams had been called out to an incident on Mt Harvey. My immediate thoughts were that someone triggered a cornice collapse and had fallen several hundred metres. Sadly I was right, except it was worse because five people were involved. Perhaps the only reason that the sixth member of the group survived was that they had slowed down on the ascent and reached the summit later than the others. What an awful realization that must be.

A tragic reminder that the local mountains can be as deadly as they are beautiful.

Waves, meet beach

A fine day at the beach from 5 years ago, the snowy peaks of the Tantalus Range on the distant horizon.

If I remember rightly, there were a few reasons for this photo. The first was the straight line in the pebbles on the beach marking the high-tide line. The second was the waves – it’s rarely windy enough here to whip up any significant waves. The third was the view up Howe Sound to the peaks of the Tantalus Range, 60 km away near Squamish. I still find it amazing that there are such impressive mountains within sight of Vancouver.

The full-sized photo is on Flickr.

Blue hour

Blue hour in Howe Sound.

Blue hour in Howe Sound #howesound #anvilisland #beautifulbc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #explorebc #ifttt

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

A lovely calm ferry crossing from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island at dusk. The last light of the day broke through a gap in the clouds to light up the summits of Brunswick Mountain and Mount Harvey, but vanished as quickly as it appeared.

It was a few years ago that I noticed a photo I’d taken of the Vancouver skyline looked particularly blue. I liked the effect, and it was only much later that I learned of the “blue hour”. As with the golden hour, some evenings are bluer than others – often in Vancouver they’re more of a grey-blue or just grey, so I was quite pleased to get this shot of Howe Sound all in blue.

Rays of pink

A few pink rays over the Howe Sound peaks

Another perspective on last night’s incredible sunset. As the saying goes, as you’re watching a sunset (or sunrise), don’t forget to look behind you. I really liked the pink rays of cloud over the deep blue cloud-capped peaks along the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

A splash of colour

Some welcome colour after the greyest of grey days

To say that today has been grey is an understatement. It hasn’t been raining the whole time, but it has been an oppressive, unrelenting dull grey. So imagine our astonishment when the clouds broke up towards the end of the day as we approached Bowen Island on the ferry. I couldn’t believe my eyes at first: straight ahead the view was the blue of approaching dusk, while to our left everything had a distinct magenta cast to it. I was sufficiently intrigued to go out on deck and was greeted by this incredible sight. Definitely one of the nicest and most dramatic sunsets we’ve had in a while.

After that, we met up with the Black Sheep for some Guy Fawkes’ night merriment and mayhem!

The downside of popularity

The awesome view remains the same but this destination has suffered as a result of its popularity – the bare rock on the right used to be a lovely carpet of moss. And then there are the inevitable fire rings, and branches cut from living trees… Sigh…

I knew that this destination had been popular based on the number of social media posts I’d seen, but I still wasn’t prepared for the change that has been wrought here in the near six years since I was last here. All the soft moss we’d sat on has been worn away by countless feet. My only consolation is that at least it shouldn’t get any worse…

Cornices

Cornices on show on the West Lion and the three peaks of Unnecessary Mountain

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we hiked part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail from Cypress Bowl to Lions Bay last June. The section that traversed the three peaks of Unnecessary Mountain (on display in this photo) was some of the loveliest sub-alpine terrain we’d hiked. Just beautiful country.

If anyone wants to discover this view for themself, head up to Artisan Square on Bowen Island. Good chocolate and treats up there too 🙂