Mount Garibaldi Via Brohm Ridge
What: Brohm Ridge route on Mount Garibaldi, BC, Canada
When: May 29-30, 2023
Total stats: 18.5 miles, 7337 feet of elevation gain (a lot of ups and downs!)
Why: Mount Garibaldi is the northernmost volcano in Jeff Smoot’s Climbing the Cascade Volcanoes book/pamphlet. Also, it’s pretty.
GPX track from our route from road junction to camp (I’ve deleted the section in which we walked on the wrong road).
We left north Seattle around 7:30am on Memorial Day, May 29. Traffic was super light and we got across the border quickly. We got baked goods at Purebread in North Squamish (vegan pigs in a blanket were an option!). After we turned onto Cat Lake Road, we reached first crux of the Mount Garibaldi climb: the road.
We had a lot of problems finding up-to-date information about the road in and which we should take. There are two potential options: the first and second lefts from the Cat Lake Road. We took the first. That was the wrong choice. The road became impassable to our Subaru outback at about 3100 feet- lots of very sharp rocks up a steep hill. As we walked it continued to get worse and later seemed impassable to all but dirt bikes and ATVs.
I later learned that this road had been decommissioned. The correct road was the second left. A trip report I found shortly after our return stated that they took the second left and were able to drive to just above the junction with the road we took.
We reached snow around 4000 feet. I switched from trail runners to mountaineering boots at that point (I highly recommend not putting on your boots unless you can see snow from the car), and soon reached the open gate. We put our snowshoes on around this point. There is a demoralizing downhill before going back up to the chalets. If this was Africa, there would be a bunch of guys hanging around the chalet with their snowmobiles offering to take us and our stuff up for a price. But of course, this being North America, we have to carry our 50lb packs ourselves 😉
From there we followed the road as it went up and down along the ridge, all on snow. We camped on a patch of exposed, disturbed soil at about 5700 feet, like an island in the snow. Garibaldi continued to be shrouded in fog.
Going for the Summit
Continuing up Brohm Ridge
We left camp around 1:30am, following a gpx track from Tareef’s Mountain Misadventures as it traversed Brohm Ridge. I was glad we had the track because between the fog and the dark, it was pretty hard to see where we were going. Eventually we reached a bare part of the ridge where we ditched our snowshoes and scrambled up and down some rocks.
As the ridge returned to snow we veered left. We geared up with glacier gear on a rock island at the edge of the Warren glacier. The rock island we chose was probably a little too high, because we had to drop quite a bit of elevation as we traversed onto the Garibaldi Neve. We crossed a few crevasses before getting to the base of the headwall. It was also very cold and windy- likely just around freezing, plus wind. But at least the fog cleared around the time we reached the edge of the glacier.
There was an obvious bootpack that went straight up the middle of the headwall, but also some very large rocks that had come straight down the headwall. We opted to climb up climber’s left, below the bergshrund and end run around the shrund. The shrund itself was surprisingly shallow- I think the biggest concern if you fell in would be hitting the bottom.
The snow above the bergshrund was steep but in great condition- firm but still soft enough to self arrest in. The most difficult section was where the snow crossed a rock band and got both shallow and narrow. That section will likely melt out soon and increase the rockfall risk on the route. One rock came down to our right as we ascended. We opted not to protect the headwall above the bergshrund because of the good snow conditions and trying to move quickly, but in hindsight I probably should have placed pickets above and below the rock band.
We unroped once we reached the summit ridge and walked to the true summit around 8:30am.
We carefully descended the headwall. The snow was already getting sloppier. Another rock came down just as we had finished skirting the bergshrund, narrowly missing the last person on our team by about 4 feet.
We found a slightly more efficient route that went a little lower on the way back and unroped at an area where people sometimes camp at the edge of the Warren Glacier (which sounds terrible, btw- long difficult approach with heavy packs and a very windy spot to camp).
Once we got off the ridge the fog lifted and it was much easier to navigate. We packed up camp and took a slightly different route back to the chalet, trying to minimize unnecessary hills that we only had to go down again, but in the end I think we failed- our total elevation loss on our way to camp was 417 feet, and our total gain when going back from camp to car was 522 feet.
Fun fact: this is now the second glaciated peak I have actually summitted outside of the US, after Margherita Peak in Uganda.