This past weekend was a long weekend in British Columbia known as “Family Day”. This bonus holiday Monday in February is inspired by the idea of taking the time to participate in activities with your family, and so many local attractions offer great discounts. The weather was getting better and better, so I made plans with a hiking buddy to get together and head up a newer local attraction: the Sea to Sky Gondola. We would then have access to some great mountain snowshoeing.
Hike Name: Al’s Habrich Ridge
Date: Monday February 13
Location: Squamish, BC
Distance: 3.5 mi. / 6 km
Elevation gain: 1000 ft / 1200 m
Max. elevation: 3900 ft / 300 m
Time on trail: 3 hours
The Sea to Sky Gondola offers access to some amazing backcountry terrain below the very prominent Sky Pilot Mountain. Unfortunately I hadn’t yet had the chance to ride the gondola up, having decided that $40 was a bit steep for a trip up a mountain. On previous visits I had taken the 10 km trail from the base to the summit of the gondola, and ridden the gondola down. Thankfully this weekend the gondola was offering a half-price ticket in honour of Family Day, which made it much more affordable.
My friend and I hit the road early and made it to Squamish with plenty of time to relax and enjoy a coffee in a local café. We made it over to the gondola base just before 9:30 and joined the handful of other outdoor enthusiasts catching the first rides up, many with backcountry skis!
After a quick and scenic ride up, we were standing at 3000 feet, and strapping on our snowshoes to climb higher.
The first section of trail follows a service road away from the Summit Lodge. After a few minutes we came to a junction with a large trail map and turned left. A few more minutes on a road, and then we were into the forest and on a proper trail.
It was perfectly peaceful in the forest as we moseyed along. Before too long though the trail started to climb and we were treated to our first views of the nearby mountains.
The trail continued to climb though a bit more gradually as we followed a low ridge to a great lookout spot. This was the end of the official winter tourist’s snowshoe trail. We took a short snack break and enjoyed the view before gathering ourselves to press onwards, knowing that there was a track made by other hikers familiar with the trail.
The snowshoe track dropped into a gully and then climbed steeply up through the forest. It was very easy to follow the track and we were reassured by the sight of summer trail markers.
We explored a small side ridge to catch more views north before re-joining the track and climbing below some great rock outcroppings.
The trail levelled out one last time through a great forest section of pines and cedars and then we faced a steep climb up a hillside to reach our viewpoint and our turnaround spot for the hike.
We enjoyed a long break at the overlook, soaking in the warm sunshine and the spring-like temperatures.
The return trip passed incredibly quickly, with very little effort. It was amazing how many people were at the Summit Lodge, many marvelling at the snow as if it was their first time in it (it might have been for a few…)
We took in the awesome view of Sky Pilot and then caught the gondola down, thrilled with our mountain-top adventures.