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Bridge-Lillooet Divide ArxDescr

Location: This is the area west of Hurley River Road between Lillooet River and Bridge River valleys, as far west as Salal Creek/Lillooet Icefield. Terrain: The terrain in the Bridge-Lillooet Divide is a mixture of small icefields and high meadowed passes with a few high summits projecting from a sea of lower peaks in the 7500-8500 foot elevation range. Most of the rock is granitic but there are areas of metamorphic rock particularly around Mt. Samson. The granite tends to be highly frost fractured and broken and climbing on it can be fun or scary depending on the degree of brokenness.

One interesting feature of the area is the deposition of thick beds of pumice stone resulting from the Plinth Peak volcanic eruption circa 400 BC. In some valleys and on gentle slopes these pumice beds form a thick sandy deposit which can be glissaded on almost like soft snow.

For sake of (what hopefully will turn out to be) convenience, and not without some historical justification, the eastern half of this area is subtitled the Hurley Range (but no separate Area has been created); as it lies in between the angle of the Hurley River and the Bridge River and/or is adjacent to the headwaters of the Hurley River. Also most peaks in this area are accessible via the Hurley River or the Hurley Main, also (except Vayu and its offspring). Part of the reason for this designation is so that numbered peaks in this area are now Hu01, Hu03, Hu09 etc; peaks in the western half of the area will be designated using AtXX as in At01, At03, At11, with "At" representing Athelstan, Athelney etc. although no subarea is so-designated; this is only for peak-numbering purposes. The delineator between the two halves is a line from Ash Pass SxSSE to the head of North Creek - between the Pebble and McParlon Glaciers; Sessel Mtn and Mt Delilah are east of this line, Sugus Mtn to its west. History: This area used to be full on expedition territory before logging roads pushed up the major valleys. In the 1930's, J. Ronayne of Pemberton, who was the most prominent local climber, made the first ascent of Mt. Samson. In the 1960's Dick Culbert and Alice Purdey climbed in the Vayu-Frost Fiend area, and the Kellerhals clan climbed and named the Athelney pass summits. The 1970's belonged to John Clarke, as he made several visits to the area and picked off a lot of the prominent unclimbed peaks on multi day traverses. On one of these trips Roy Mason, with ski plane, flew him in to the then remote glacier northwest of Athelstan, a location which can now be reached in 3 hours from road end...

In the 1970's and 80's the peaks not climbed by Clarke were mostly knocked off during ACC and BCMC climbing camps. Publication of Fairley's guide in the late 80's indicated the end of the expeditionary phase of exploration here as it revealed many of the summits were now comfortably doable in a weekend from Vancouver. However, as late as 1990 Samson had only had about 10 ascents.

Since the late 1980's the area has become popular with ski tourers and general mountaineers. A few technical routes have been climbed in areas like Thiassi, Vayu, Athelstan and on the north face of Samson, but many of the smaller summits have obvious lines left to do on them. The popularity of this area will likely remain moderately high as long as it remains accessible; however, thankfully, it is not and probably will not become overrun the way areas like the Joffre group or Marriott Basin are sometimes.