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Jan. 5, 2008 (Sat.)
Elevation: 3960 feet; Order of Height: 44
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest
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The second day of our 2-day Marshall/Cliff trip. After having spent a semi-sleepness night with the battling varmints under our lean-to, we got up shortly after 5am to prep for Ewart's arrival at the lean-to. He was only interested in the climb of Cliff, and so was hiking in early to team up with us just for today.

We were choosing to ascend Cliff via the 'Flowed Lands' side, rather than the official herdpath route that leads up from the other side, near the uphill Lean-to. We were doing it this way because it was shorter (from where we were) and in my opinion, it was more open way up. I'd done this route once before in 2004 (link) with Markus and Caroline, and we had followed someone else's excellent track up. Given the recent snows, I wasn't expecting a track this time, but I did have my GPS tracklog from the 2004 ascent and would use that to recreate the route.

The walk across the flowed lands gave us a view of the forested ridge of Cliff Mountain above us. The start of the route is basically along the southeast edge of the Flowed Lands under Cliff Mountain (see my track map for details). There was, as we had expected, no track, so it was going to be a full trailbreak all the way to the summit. It was now about 7am, so we had lots of time to cover the one mile between the edge of the Flowed Lands to the summit.

It was good that we'd started early. It was slow going, breaking trail and navigating, all the while attempting to shake the loose snow off of trees before bushwacking through them. There spruce-trap rate was quite high, too, further slowing us. Ewart fell far behind as we ascended - his greater weight meant that he was breaking through and falling into spruce traps that Jenn and I had managed to successfully traverse over. When we stopped, we could hear a long stream of curses from far below us. There were several times where the difficulty of the conditions brought me close to calling for an abort of the climb. We were close, though, only a few hundred yards away now.

Perserverance won out. At 10:30, 3.5 hours after starting up from the edge of the Flowed Lands, we reached the summit sign on Cliff. Boy, was I glad that was over! We enjoyed the relatively good views from the summit of Cliff, taking in the shining white summits of the newly-snowed-upon peaks all around us. Dark clouds and shifting sunlight provided some great photo opportunities.

We were in a bit of a rush, hoping to get back home for an engagement in the evening, so we stayed at the top for only five minutes and then started back down at a good clip, enjoying much better progress going downhill on a defined track. On the way back down, we met Ewart about 300 feet below the summit, tiringly wading his way through a 10-foot continuous section of spruce trap. His words for the mountain were unkind.

We were back at the Calamity Ponds lean-to before noon, and hastily packed up, and we then hoofed it back to the Upper Works trailhead. So ends our report on two somewhat tiring and tough days of wet, snowy trailbreaking. Anyone wanting to do Marshall or Cliff (via Flowed Lands) is now invited to try out our well-set tracks. Might as well make use of 'em!

See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: January 2008 - Marshall and Cliff

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