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Scree - Clayoquot Hiking Terms

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Scree - Clayoquot Hiking Terms


Scree: from the Norse “skridha”, landslide. The small, loose stones covering a slope. Also called talus, the French word for slope. Scree is mainly formed from the annual freeze/thaw periods of spring and fall, where water seeps into cracks in the rock and expands when freezing.  The scree slope shown here is near the summit of the iconic Black Tusk in Garibaldi Provincial Park near Whistler in British Columbia.

Scree Slope on Black Tusk

Scree slopes are a common obstacle or simply part of the scenery on alpine hiking trails.  Wedgemount Lake pictured below is dominated by scree slopes and a massive erratic field around the lake.

Scree Slope - Wedgemount Lake

The image below is an aerial video of Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.  Scree slopes dominate the areas above the lake leading up to Joffre Peak as well as the glacier far above the lake.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

The Joffre Lakes trail is surprisingly busy most of the summer, which is a testament to how extraordinarily beautiful, and relatively easy the hike is.  Unlike Wedgemount Lake, Black Tusk or Cirque Lake, which are to difficult for many hikers, Joffre Lakes is comparatively easy and certainly relaxing.  Many hikes in the nearby Garibaldi Park are not family friendly and easy, but Joffre Lakes is.  Certainly the scenic drive to the trailhead from Whistler is part of the fun.  The image below is an aerial video of the Fissile, Adit Lakes and Russet Lake, all surrounded by scree and scree slopes.

Aerial View of the Fissile

The image below is an aerial video from Panorama Ridge toward Black Tusk.  Scree slopes descend from this amazing peak in Whistler.

Black Tusk Aerial View - Scree

Black Tusk is the extraordinarily iconic and appropriately named mountain that can be seen from almost everywhere in Whistler.  The massive black spire of crumbling rock juts out of the earth in an incredibly distinct way that appears like an enormous black tusk plunging out of the ground.  Whether you spot it in the distance from the top of Whistler Mountain or from dozens of vantage points along the Sea to Sky Highway, its unmistakable silhouette is hard to miss.

Glossary of Hiking Terms


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.

Nunatuk: a rock projection protruding through permanent ice or snow.  Their distinct appearance inOld Man's Beard - Clayoquot Hiking Terms an otherwise barren landscape often makes them identifiable landmarks.  Nunatuks are usually crumbling masses of angular rock as they are subject to severe freeze/thaw periods.  There is a very prominent nunatuk near the glacier window of the Wedge Glacier.  The glacier has been retreating in the past few years, so this massive nunatuk marks the terminus of the glacier now.

Old Man's Beard(Usnea): The lichen seen hanging from tree branches in much of British Columbia.  It hangs from tree bark and tree branches looking like greenish-grey hair.  A form of lichen, usnea can be found world-wide.  There are currently over 85 known species of usnea.

Pressure Ridges - Clayoquot Hiking TermsPressure Ridges: wavelike ridges that form on a glacier normally after a glacier has flowed over icefalls.  Pressure ridges are a beautiful and hostile looking feature of glaciers that, when approached, become menacingly huge and dangerous.

Pyramidal Peak: a mountaintop that has been carved by glaciation into a distinct, sharp horn-like shape. The Matterhorn in the Alps is a well know example of this striking phenomenon.

Retreation Glacier: a deteriorating glacier; annual melt of entire glacier exceeds the flow of the ice.  Glaciers around Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park are retreation glaciers owing to the past few decades of warming temperatures.

Scree: from the Norse “skridha”, landslide.  The small, loose stones covering a slope. Also called talus, the French word for slope. Scree is mainly formed from the annual freeze/thaw periods of spring and fall, where water seeps into cracks in the rock and expands when freezing.

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