Andy McKay

Aug 13, 2023

Trip report - Mt Habrich

Again, this wasn’t a trip (as in overnight), but since I tried it three times, I feel like its worth a post.

Mount Habrich is a mountain at 1795m, behind the Squamish Chief and the Sea to Sky Gondola. I took some relatives up the Sea to Sky Gondola one day and since I paid for the pass, converted it into a year pass. I looked at Habrich and Sky Pilot and thought I could do those.

As it turns out Sky Pilot is a “serious mountain” involving things like creavasses glaciers, and vertical climbing. Things I’m not mad keen on, I like long hours of cardio and suffering. So after family I tried to do Mt. Habrich loop. Only 11.4km loop at about 5h 31m, doesn’t sound too bad.

First attempt

So on the Juan de Fuca trail by boots just fell apart. I was annoyed that they only lasted a year, so decided to get some solid boots. So I got some serious Zamberlan boots and everyone I know who had them loved them… once they broke them in.

No matter what I do I couldn’t seem to break them in and get blisters. So witness my first hike with them:

I had to turn back at 5km with big blisters on my heels. They’d been hurting for a while and I’d tried many different socks and a heel lock with my laces, to no avail. Knowning that I had to keep my heels in good shape for the West Coast Trail, I had to call it quits. Annoyed on the way home, I stopped at MEC and bought some light trail Solomon boots. I completed the whole West Coast Trail in 6 days with zero blisters in those new boots.

Second attempt

For this one I had a meeting in the morning and got to the top of the gondola after lunch and my phone hadn’t charged, leaving me with low phone battery and limited time. Not great.

After you get up to point, there are many, many branches in the trail and they aren’t well flagged. Basically I went the wrong way, then had to backtrack mulitple times. I found the trail and headed up it, but this cost me an hour and got me soaked due to dew on bushes.

Then on the way up I got stung in 3 spots on both my legs by wasps. The dry weather has meant there are lots of aggressive wasps this year, sigh. I proceeded to get lost a couple more times.

So I got up to 1635m and got my first real view of the peak. There’s a ridge over to the mountain and at that point I realised:

  • I was really low on phone battery which I was relying on for maps, I also forgot my headlamp so had no other light source.
  • I was looking at an estimated 3 hours to get along the ridge to the mountain and back.
  • There was bad weather coming in.

In 3 hours, the last gondola would go down and in 4 it would be dark. At that point I realised I had inadequate time, equipment and planning. It was time to head back to the gondola. One advantage of doing this was that I found the best route back to the gondola and wouldn’t get lost next time.

Third attempt

For this I was fully prepared, with all the right gear, a fully charge phone, headlamp, waterproofs and plenty of time, even if the weather wasn’t as great.

I hit the 1635m spot I turned around on my second attempt in approx. 1h 30 mins, half the time of last time. I then had a long ridge to go along, which looked intimidating with an intimidating pointy mountain at the end. The weather started to close in, the occassional bit of rain and dramatic clouds coming in close. On one side of the meeting visibility was about 100m, ending at cliffs as clouds rose up. The other side of the mountain was clear.

The ridge is up and down, with some vertical bits and ropes to help out. The trail doesn’t actually go up Mount Habrich at that point, its about 100m further up and looks incredibly steep and unforgiving. This is the terrain of mountain climbers, not hikers. I do not do well with vertical heights like that.

So I took the loop down and that is incredibly steep and continuous down. It reaches the service road, which is then a simple boring hike out for 5h 22m.


If I did this again, I’d probably do it from the bottom in Squamish to get all that extra elevation. I’d also aim to do it on a nice day to get better views, instead of just cloud. My turn around on the second day was maybe a good idea, I might have gone into a bad situation in there, although on reflection I was probably still safe (unless I’d had an accident).

But the mountain will be there tomorrow, it’s important I’m there tomorrow to do it as well.