Scramble Sky Pilot

Rate this Adventure 9 miles 4019 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Tam McTavish

Sky Pilot is one of the best Scrambles in the Sea to Sky corridor with good quality rock, superb views, and an all round thrilling adventure. The route is tricky, but not too exposed, and the main challenges can be managed with the proper skills. Even hiking to the base of this route is a terrific way to spend a day.

Disclaimer: People have died recently because they thought they could just give'r on this peak. They thought they were being safe, and they believed they were experienced. This peak should only be attempted by experienced scramblers with experience on snow and with rapidly changing conditions. 

I highly recommend reading Matt Gun's Superb Scrambles in South Western British Columbia which details this route far better then I can. It has excellent photos.

This is an excellent introductory mountaineering route. It's a great introductory route for those with some scrambling skills who have been properly instructed in using an ice axe and crampons to walk and self arrest and are going with someone more skilled this can be an excellent adventure. 

Planning

The best time of year to do this is between June and October. Before heading up you'll want to make sure the ridges are snow free, as snow on the first crux slab section makes this incredibly challenging. Checking the webcams is an easy way to get a rough sense of what the snow level is like.

From the gondola this trip will take between 6- 10 hours, depending on fitness and comfort with exposure, so plan accordingly. The Gondola costs about $40 and runs from 10am to 6pm. If you prefer not to pay you can take the Sea to Sky trail up, or use the Manqueam Forest Service Road this adds an extra 2 or three hours to your trip. Download tickets are a more reasonable $15. Parking for hikers is located across the road from Shannon Falls, so it requires a bit of a walk to get to the Gondola.

The best time of year to do this is between June and October. Before heading up you'll want to make sure the ridges are snow free, as snow on the first crux slab section makes this incredibly challenging. 

You are heading into proper alpine conditions which mean that you should be properly prepared with the right clothing, footwear, and equipment for that terrain. Be sure to pack appropriately. 

The Route

The trails are wide at first proceeding first along wide dirt roads, and gradually getting skinnier and skinnier. Still the trail goes quickly, gently steepening, almost imperceptibly.  Eventually you cross a river, and head up steeply through the trees. As the trees thin you get to a wide gulley the follows up between moraines to deposit you in front of the route itself. Here is a great place to turn around if you're more in the mood for a scenic hike in specactular alpine scenery.

Ahead is the pocket glacier crossing that requires and ice axe and crampons. While that may feel like overkill for such a small stretch, that  hasn't had any significant crevasses in recent years, this is where the most accidents have occurred.  Pebbleshoo has an excellent photo from later in the season that reveals the steep icy face that requires practiced movement, and the skills to arrest a fall should it occur. It's worth noting that people have died on this section in past years. If you aren't prepared for mountaineering conditions, with the gear and training to use them now is a good time to chill out, enjoy the view, turn around. 

From the Col the route marches up easy ground to the first crux, the red band. It's a slabby section that is best done on the southern side of the slab. It's a bit tricky. If you don't have previous climbing experience it will likely be pretty challenging as many of the holds are finger tips only. While there is a good dirt patch at the base, either side is extremely exposed. Beyond this the movement is easy again, traversing climbers left with a pretty distinct trail that rounds a corner, and leads up a simple gulley. Exiting the gully onto the face has some terrific scrambling with good holds. Beyond this is a ridge, reaching the gendarme. Traversing around left of the gendarme is two gulleys. You head up the first smaller one, to an arete that separate the two. The second crux is here, and it's one single tricky reachy move. From here it's simple fun scrambling to the summit. 

The descent is back down whence you came. While the golden rule of scrambling is don't climb up want you can't climb down, there are new bolted anchors at the top of both crux sections. A 30 m rope sets you down awkwardly on the upper section, so it a 40m could be more practical for that section. 30m works fine on the lower red band crux. Be careful approaching it. People have gotten off route and fallen to their deaths in this spot as well. If you you are unfamiliar with multi-pitch rappel techniques then best not to try it out here where there is a fair amount of risk. 

Back at the col it's a quick descent down the snow gulley. Bear in mind things have warmed up, so a little small wet sluffing is common. Giving each other space is a really good idea. 

Once you're back at the Gondola grab yourself a surprisingly reasonably priced $6 beer and enjoy the satisfaction only a good summit can provide. 

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Tags

Rock Climbing
Hiking
Adult Beverages
Food Nearby
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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