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Peaks to the East of The Judge # 13421

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Date: 2009.07.24
Vantage Point: Summit of The Judge

Caption: The high and difficult peaks to the east of Diana Lake

PhotoDescr: From the informal car park above Pinnacle Creek march up the road for a short ways and cross the creek on the aluminum bridge. Another 100 metres or so on the road brings you to a Y intersection, take the right hand branch, where the worn path goes. In about 400m, you will cross a creek (just a trickle when we were there). Bearing left and uphill on what appears to be an old logging or exploration road, you will in less than a kilometer see a log blocking the path; an obvious trail heads off right and into old-growth forest. The trail climbs, sometimes steeply, through the forest, emerging now and again in the open to cross avalanche paths; there are a couple of detours in this area intending to assist in forming a new track for the path - it doesn't matter too much what you follow since they all eventually lead to the same point. At 3.5 km, the trail breaks out into yet another slide path and turns up the hill for a good ways, but once at the top of this grade, the slope lessens and the rest of the hike is through fairly open forest and meadows, much of it just to the NE of Mt. Norman. It was about 5.7 km, with an elevation gain of 1900', from the cars to the lake, and took us about 3.5 hrs with overnight packs. Both the valley and the lake are quite charming, and well deserving of their reputations. For a more complete approach and route description, see Kevin Finnegan's website "Hikes Around Golden" at http://www.goldenhikes.ca/Diana_Lake.html.

We were at this point - Thursday afternoon - the only people inhabiting the entire valley (although there were lots of bugs) and so were able to pitch our camp at the one recreational site with a picnic table.

Later JA and I wandered about 2.5 km up the valley and larch-strewn alplands NW of the lake and climbed the encircling grassy ridge at about GR 524398 (Spillimacheen, 82 K/16) for a look at what could be seen the Beaverfoot Range, the Beaverfoot Valley, and the Columbia River.

Mardy and Marion hiked over to the 'forbidden' outfitters' cabin (L 16434) at GR 538387, a chunk of privatized land and buildings smack in the middle of what should be a provincial park.

The ascent of The Judge is very straightforward, which perhaps accounts for its popularity. On the 24th, we set off at a civilized hour, marching up the trail on the N side of Diana Lake, bypassing the 'private' cabin, and ascending through meadows for a kilometer before turning right (NE) and climbing up to the crest of W/NW ridge of The Judge just above the obvious col (GR 534396) at about 7650'. 2.2 km and another 1400' along a very pleasant ridge brought us to the summit just after noon; there is some rock hopping and very moderate scrambling on the boulders of a quartzite intrusion near the apex. The summit is just short of two thousand feet above Diana Lake.

Wonderful view up here, again of the Beaverfoot to the NW; then fruther N, the Hanbury Icefield and the Goodsirs, Helmet and the Washmawapta; to the NE we could see the back sides of Gray, Foster, and Verendrye/White-tail; Split and Needle, along with Assiniboine, Lunette, Aye, and Eon were clearly delineated to the E. A large, unnamed blue lake lies at the head of a valley a km to the N.

Although most parties will want to retrace their steps along the ridge on descent, we instead reduced our return time by skittering S down good scree in the obvious frontal drainage and back to the Diana lake valley; at the bottom of this descent, I was somewhat ahead of the others and, coming around a rock outcrop, startled a grizzly browsing in the meadow below; it was kind enough to take off at a brisk pace in a direction diametrically opposite to me, a choice on its part for which I was consummately grateful.

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