Snowshoe Tryst Lake

Drove the Mt. Shark Road for 1 km and parked up a short side-road to the left. The mist had just lifted and the sun was shining as we plodded south along the N-S logging road, enjoying the glittery snow on either side of the packed trail. Lots of skiers had turned up the first logging road to the right — you could see their tracks high on the east slope of Peak 154311.  We carried on for another 4oo m  to the Tryst Lake turnoff  at 1.9 km. In winter there is no indication of the summer trail (the cairn is hidden); you just turn off into the forest.  After crossing the creek that was partially open,  you start up the draw to the lake. It  suddenly occured to us that  on a beautiful sunny day we had chosen a route that was totally in shade.

Tryst Lake

A sunless Tryst Lake

The trail had been well-used by snowshoers and by skiers who had been carving turns on the sunny avalanche slopes above it. Lower down, the draw is obviously raked by occasional spring avalanches. I asked the avalanche expert about this. “How safe IS this route”? His opinion was that it was safe when the Danger Level was below High. He says not to go during or after a heavy snowfall or on a hot day in spring.

The 1,000 ft-high draw seemed a lot steeper in winter and I was really glad of the heel lift on my snowshoes which saves  calf muscles and achilles tendons from being over-stretched.  There were  two steep steps where we REALLY appreciated the snowshoe’s crampons that dug in beautifully on the hard-packed snow. On the return we found a better route down the upper step that zig-zaged down to skier’s right. It would probably make a better uphill route, too, for anyone who doesn’t have heel lifts.

As we climbed higher we noticed wind caused by frigid air in the cirque above drifting down the draw. At the lake itself the temperature dipped to -20 from -11 and  we could feel our faces, hands and feet  starting to numb up. Oddly enough, it was warmer at the far end of the cirque where we made a little loop below The Fist and the Tryst Chutes (popular with alpine skiers). Another oddity was the sunlight lighting up a small patch of forest just before the lake. We reckoned that at this time of year the spotlight was turned on for about half an hour each day. The slight air movement of very cold air emanating from the lake coupled with a snow surface warmed by brief sunlight had coated the larches with one to two inch-long leaf-like hoar crystals. Even the moss hanging from the spruce  had been crystallised and was waving around in the wind like tinsel on a Christmas tree.

Hoar frost on larch branch

Hoar frost on larch branch near Tryst Lake

Distance to lake 3.3 km, to cirque 3.7 km. By starting from Hwy 742 2.2 km south of Mt. Shark Road (see  Commonwealth Lake),  the distance can be cut down by 200 m.  Some skiers  reduce the distance even further  (though likely not the effort) by starting from Hwy 742 about 1.6 km south of Mt. Shark Road, crossing Engadine Flats and climbing up the steep forested bank to gain the N-S logging road closer to the Tryst Lake turnoff.

Note that on the map Tryst Creek is incorrectly marked. It crosses the logging road 170 m south of the Tryst Lake trail.

Tryst Lake trail map

Share
3 comments… add one
  • Gillean Daffern Oct 31, 2011, 12:15 pm

    Yes, people ski it. On the left ( south) side of the lake is a partly treed ridge with steep chutes (Tryst Chutes) falling towards the lake cirque. Very popular. Also,there are open slopes on the right (north) side of the ascent trail which are avalanche slopes. Definitely read the K Country avalanche report before you go.

  • CJS Oct 30, 2011, 3:32 pm

    Reguarding this trail, would it be a steep enough hike to snowboard down? Does Tryst Lake have steep areas/ peaks that you could fruther hike to ride down?

    Thanks

Leave a Comment