The Copilot: How civilized!

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We have had more than a few hikes/scrambles around Southwest B.C. that have made us earn our right to be there. They consisted of either an approach on miles of logging road that is so graciously referred to as a “slog”, a heinous bushwack or alder thrash that scratches and slaps at any exposed skin or sometimes if we were really lucky we have had to ford some sort of raging ice-cold water to further our progress. But we have slowly become accustomed to the ways of the wild in B.C. and you could say we have developed a special fondness for them.

 

However, since the arrival of the Sea to Sky Gondola a certain civility and european feel has been brought to one of our local mountain areas: Sky Pilot. The trail has been tamed. We no longer have to endure miles of approach on logging road or thrashing through alder to arrive at our destination. No, now we have a scenic 10 minute ride up in a cable car, a cafe at the top should we need one more caffeine boost before we set off and a well-groomed trail that leads us straight to the alpine. If you didn’t know any better you might actually think you were in a little European town in the Alps.

This August, however,our sights were set on a lesser named bump in the area, The Copilot. Next to Sky Pilot it looks much less intimidating, as it doesn’t quite take up as much of the skyline as it’s better known, better half. But, seeing as we had already scrambled Sky Pilot a few years earlier (If you want to see how our first trip went in this area, pre-gondola, take a look at our successful attempt to climb Sky Pilot in 2011.), we set our sights on this smaller objective and what turned out to be a mini alpine adventure, only minutes from our home.

Despite it’s smaller stature this is still a stiff scramble and should only be attempted by those with the experience,gear and skill to do so. The climb itself is short, approx 90m up the Northeast gully. It’s an obvious line that is filled with loose rock halfway up, so wear a helmet. There were no issues scrambling this section and we made a note of the rappel stations, good sturdy trees, on the way up. We brought the necessary equipment to rappel the route as we knew it would be the most efficient way down. Plus it gave us an excuse to practice our alpine systems and let’s be honest…it’s pretty fun!

We enjoyed a leisurely snack break on the summit, lounged in the sunshine and took more photos than we know what to do with. Eventually, though, we made our way down to the base, packed up our gear and strolled in the golden sunlight back to the gondola lodge. We were in no hurry to leave such a beautiful area and knew we only had a short drive home that evening, so we lingered whenever we could. ultimately our feet brought us back to our starting point and in true European tradition we finished the climbing day off with a frosty lager as we watched the sun set over Howe Sound. Now, don’t get me wrong we still believe in the ethic of “earning our climb”, but we could really get used to this type of “civilized” climbing!

End of day, looking back on where we'd been.

End of day, looking back on where we’d been.

 

Author: Spring McClurg

I moved to B.C. with my husband in 2010 after spending 6 years living abroad in Ireland. Originally from a small town in Alberta that was minutes away from the Rockies, I always knew I would return to the mountains one day. I love spending as much time as I can in the mountains, whether it be mountaineering, rock climbing or simply running on the backcountry trails. I love to challenge myself and seek out new experiences.

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2 Comments

  1. Well done again folks 🙂 Amazing pictures as always. You and Leigh make this climbs look so easy lol. I heard that 2 people died climbing Sky Pilot this summer. I dont understand tho why some people blame the Gondola for that. I mean beginners should have no place on technical mountains. Know your limit and stay within it ! Its like same thing that happens on Everest with these newbies who pay alot of money to climb it but have no clue about climbing. It makes me sad that people associate mountains with something bad and dangerous. Sitting all day on your ass and doing nothing is far more dangerous than climbing mountains, at leas in my own personal opinion 🙂

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    • Thanks Victor! This was definitely a super fun alpine adventure, so close to home 🙂

      We were very saddened to hear about the deaths this year in that area. We are not 100% sure of the circumstances involved, but the most important thing is having respect for the terrain, knowing your limits and gaining the experience necessary before venturing into unknown territory. Mountains are amazing areas that can be fun and safe with the right knowledge.

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