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Krummholz - Clayoquot Hiking Terms

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Krummholz - Clayoquot Hiking Terms


Krummholz: low-stunted trees found in the alpine.  From the German “twisted wood”.  Continuous exposure to hostile, alpine weather causes trees to form in bizarre and stunted ways.  Many types of trees have formed into bizarre krummholz trees including spruce, mountain pine, balsam fir, subalpine fir, limber pine and lodgepole pine.  The lodgepole pine is commonly found in the alpine regions around Whistler.  The krummholz tree below is on an island amongst the Battleship Islands along the shore of Garibaldi Lake.  This hardy little tree(pictured below) is crushed yearly by metres of snow, yet continues to grow on this beautiful spot.

Krummholz - Garibaldi Lake

Krummholz trees in the alpine in Whistler have to suffer the harsh winters as well as the crushing weight of boulders and scree.  This group of krummholz trees are holding back boulders on Whistler Mountain.

Krummholz on Whistler Mountain

The alpine hiking trails on Whistler Mountain are the ultimate in luxurious hiking.  Little hiking effort gets you amazing views of turquoise lakes, snowy mountain, valleys of flowers, waterfalls and spectacular glaciers.  In the summer months, Whistler Mountain is somewhat divided in two.  The lower half of the mountain is for biking and the upper half is for hiking, sightseeing, trail running, eating and drinking.

Whistler Mountain - Aerial Video

There are a few directions you can start hiking from the Roundhouse Lodge, however, taking the Peak Express(quad chairlift) up to the summit of Whistler Mountain is an amazing place to start.  The Peak Express is an exhilarating ride that takes you to the start of Whistler Mountain's best hiking trails.  The Half Note Trail, High Note Trail and Mathew's Traverse start here.  The High Note Trail in turn leads to the Musical Bumps Trail to Russet Lake and Singing Pass in Garibaldi Provincial Park.

High Note Trail - Krummholz

The summit of Whistler Mountain is also a destination of its own.  Spectacular views all around from this rocky, alpine summit visible from almost everywhere in Whistler.  Black Tusk comes into view as you exit the Peak Express.  This amazingly distinct pinnacle of jet-black rock is a local icon and remnant of a not too distant history of volcanism in the area.  As you admire its absurdly vertical form, remind yourself that there is almost certainly a few hikers looking back at you from its summit.

Glossary of Hiking Terms


Cornice - Clayoquot Hiking TermsCol: a ridge between two higher peaks, a mountain pass or saddle.  More specifically is the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks.  Sometimes called a saddle or notch.  The Wedge-Weart Col is a popular destination at the summit of the Wedge Glacier in Garibaldi Park.

Cornice: a wind deposited wave of snow on a ridge, often overhanging a steep slope or cliff.  They are the result of snow building up on the crest of a mountain.  Cornices are extremely dangerous to travel on or below.  A common refrain of climbers is that if you can see the drop-off of a cornice, you are too close to the edge.  Cornices are dangerous for several reasons.  They can collapse from hiking across or they can collapse from above.  A third danger to consider is the fact that they can often trigger a massive avalanche that extends a considerable distance from its starting point.

Cornice - Clayoquot Hiking Terms

Glacier Window: the cave-like opening at the mouth of a glacier where meltwater runs out.  Glacier windows are often extraordinarily beautiful.  A blue glow often colours the inside and the walls are filled with centuries old glacial till.  You can often see deep into the clear walls and the enormous magnitude of a glacier can be appreciated from up close.  The popular and easily Gendarme - Clayoquot Hiking Termsaccessible glacier window at the terminus of the Wedge Glacier at Wedgemount Lake is a stunning example of this.

Glissade: descending down a snow slope on foot, partly sliding.  A quick alternative to simply hiking down a snow slope.

Hanging Glacier: separating portions of glaciers, hanging on ridgelines or cliffs.  Extremely dangerous, hanging glaciers are frequently the cause of death of mountaineers.

Headwall: a steep section of rock or cliff. In a glacial cirque it is it's highest cliff.

Highpointing: the sport of hiking to as many high points(mountain peaks) as possible in a given area.  For example, highpointing the Highpointing - Clayoquot Hiking Termslower 48 states in the United states.  This was first achieved in 1936 by A.H. Marshall.  In 1966 Vin Hoeman highpointed all 50 states.  It is estimated that over 250 people have highpointed all of the US states.  Highpointing is similar peakbagging, however peakbagging is the sport of climbing several peaks in a given area above a certain elevation.  For example, a highpointer may climb the summit of Wedge Mountain, the highest peak in the Garibaldi Ranges, then move to another mountain range.  Whereas a peakbagger may summit Wedge Mountain, then Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge, Mount Garibaldi and many more high summits in the region.

Panorama Ridge Aerial Video

Hoary Marmot: the cute, invariably pudgy, twenty plus pound ground squirrels that have evolved to live quite happily in the hostile alpine areas of much of the world. In the northwest of North America, marmots have a distinct grey in their hair, a hoary colour, so have been named hoary marmots. They manage to survive Hoary Marmot - Clayoquot Hiking Termsquite happily in the alpine, largely by hibernating for 8 months of the year and largely for having a surprisingly varied array of food in such an inhospitable environment. They live off of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, and roots and flowers. And live quite well it seems, as they always look chubby, which has one great drawback. They are sought after by bears and wolves. They have a wonderful defense system though. They are constantly on watch and whistle loudly at the first sign of danger, alerting the colony. The prevalence of these "whistlers" as they came to be locally called, in the early days of London Mountain resulted in it's name being changed to Whistler Mountain in the 60's. Hiking on Whistler, Blackcomb or Wedgemount Lake in the summer will almost guarantee an encounter with a chubby, jolly little whistler marmot.

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