Hiking Black Tusk
Greg and Steve finished breakfast Steve cooked on the gas camp stove Steve brought. The cool mountain air was just beginning to warm up in the sun. The alpine meadow has heather and a tiny alpine flowers blooming between rocky slopes. Strips of snow remain in areas protected from the sun. The four hour hike the day before took them along a moderately sloped hiking trail, past some exquisite alpine lakes.
Steve was tall and lanky, with a lot of strength and confident determination.
Greg was not as tall, with a naturally athletic body. Steve and Greg played football and basketball together. Steve reached a high level of play in basketball. Greg was a football star until a neck injury caught up to him. Although athletic, Greg showed a tendency to be somewhat lazy. Game for almost any adventure, he rarely initiated any of his own.
The mission for the day was to hike to the base of Black Tusk, a striking black peak of stone jutting into the sky in Garibaldi Park. The peak is easily seen from many places on the Sea to Sky Highway.
The climb to the base of the tusk was fairly easy, though the loose shale on the slope near the trail could be tricky. A steep drop off near the base of the rock tusk offered a stunning vista.
Soon they arrived at chute that offered a way to climb up to the top of the tusk itself.
“A little tricky, but doable”, Steve said looking at the chute.
“What ! What do you mean?” Greg asked, a slight panic catching him.
“Climbing the chute.”
Greg looked at the narrow column leading up the nearly vertical mass of rock. Then he looked at his smooth soled, steel toed work boots, more suitable for tossing hay bales in Alberta than rock climbing.
“But I have never done any rock climbing in my life!” Greg protested.
“No problem. I'll talk you through it. It will be worth it.”
Reluctantly, Greg said he would try.
Steve directed him where to put each hand, then each foot, until finally they made it to the flattened area at the top. Not quite the peak, but close enough.
The view was spectacular, with mountain peaks, patches of snow like the patterns on Orca whales, alpine lakes, and meadows. It seemed like they could reach and touch the clouds. Greg took a few photos.
After resting and enjoying the view, Steve said, “Well, I probably should have warned you that it is quite a bit harder to climb down than it is to climb up.”
Greg looked over the edge and down the chute. Everything looked different. The broken shale at the bottom of the chute looked sharp.
“What if I fell?”
Steve looked over the edge and did some mental calculations.
“Looks like about a 30 foot or so fall until you hit the scree slope. You would probably roll and slide down that slope a hundred feet or so before stopping. You may not die, but you would be awfully sore. I don’t advise falling.”
Greg looked down the chute and lamented his work boots a little more.
“The climbing rope that is in the tent would come in right handy about now. I forgot to bring it.”
After some pondering, Steve talked Greg down the chute without falling.
It was worth it.
Note: Park rangers do not recommend climbing to the top unless you are an experienced rock climber.
January 31, 2013, Revised Thursday, January 31, 2013