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Sugarloaf Peak

by Aaron Wong
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June 16, 2024

SUGARLOAF STATS
Elevation 2456m high from sea level
Prominence 640m
Elevation gain 1285m

Sugarloaf Mountain is located in Pemberton Valley, approximately 16 km northwest of Pemberton, BC.

With cloudy skies and some light rain expected late in the day, my hiking buddy Farhad and I made last-minute plans and decided to hike up Sugarloaf Mountain on Sunday morning.

I picked up Farhad at 6 am on Sunday, and we left Vancouver for the 3-4 hour drive to the trailhead of Sugarloaf Mountain. As usual, we made our pit stop for coffee and breakfast in Squamish.

After refueling ourselves and the truck, we drove north to Pemberton, then 7 km northwest on Pemberton Meadows Road, and finally turned onto Miller Bench FSR. The FSR was completely clear of snow, so I was able to drive my Tacoma all the way up to the trailhead at 1500 meters high, at the 12 km FSR mark. An AWD vehicle with enough clearance and power is definitely required, as there are washouts along the way and steep, rocky inclines on the FSR.

While gearing up, Farhad and I discussed whether or not we should bring our snowshoes. After much consideration, we decided not to bring them since it was forecasted to be cloudy all day. If it had been a sunny, warm/hot day, we definitely would have brought snowshoes.

Just after 10 am, we started the hike from the trailhead. The snowline started at approximately 1 km or less into the hike. The trail to the first hut at 1760 meters had a mixture of dry and snowy areas. The snow was quite stable with minimal post-holing up to the ankle or calves, which wasn’t so bad. Although we did post-hole, it was only up to our calves for the most part. (If it had been a sunny day, it would have been a good idea to bring snowshoes.)

We made it to the first hut in approximately 50 minutes at 1760 meters. There was quite a bit of snow from the first hut. We took a peek inside and it definitely needed some maintenance; it looked like it had been infested with bugs and animals during the winter months. We then hiked up to the second hut at approximately 1850 meters, where we spent some time having our snacks.

The snow from the second hut was abundant but firm. After refueling ourselves, at noon, we strapped on our crampons and began to plod up towards the small hill where we then had to descend towards the ridge of Sugarloaf. The snow was stable, but we still post-holed in some sections, which was only up to our ankles or calves. It wasn’t bad at all. With the weather forecast being cloudy throughout the entire day, we didn’t have to worry about the sun heating up the snow.

We ascended up the ridge and traversed up and down the bumps without any problems. The snow was quite firm, and in some sections, we had minimal post-holing up to our ankles and calves; it wasn’t bad and didn’t bother us at all. At times, traversing along the ridge was quite boring as every view in all directions was cloudy and foggy. However, Sugarloaf and its sub-peaks opened up for a while to give us hope and some excitement. It was also quite nice to see the Ipsoot and the Rhododendron mountain ranges while the sun was behind the clouds.

After an hour of traversing along the ridge, we arrived at the meadows that were covered in snow. The snow here was not as firm as in other sections along the ridge, but still doable without snowshoes. So we continued to hike on the snow until we reached a boulder section along the meadows to our right, which led up to the main ridge of Sugarloaf. The boulder section was definitely a lifesaver, as it was almost like a walk in the park. Stable rocks and boulders for the most part and with no exposure along the way.

Once we reached the main ridge of Sugarloaf, it was easy just hopping over the boulders and crossing short snow traverse sections. In no time, we made it to the summit of Sugarloaf at 3 p.m. Although it took us nearly 5 hours from the start of the trailhead to the summit, we took a long lunch break and made micro stops to readjust our crampons and layers.

At the summit of Sugarloaf, Pemberton Valley started to open up from almost all directions. Even the sun came out for a while but hid in the clouds most of the time. We spent about a good hour at the top, then reluctantly started the hike down, going through the ups and downs along the ridge.

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