Dam Mountain And Thunderbird Ridge

Taking advantage of great weather on 3 January 2017, Zosia Zgolak and I met up with her friend, Bill Sims, to hike up Grouse Mountain in the North Shore Mountains near Vancouver, British Columbia.  Since the famous Grouse Grind is closed during winter, our only option (besides taking the Skyride) was to hike the lesser-known but equally strenuous British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) Trail.  We brought along snowshoes in case we encountered deep snow, but we need not have worried as the snow-covered trail was nicely packed throughout our ascent.  With little to see but tree trunks along the BCMC Trail, this part of the hike felt quite tedious, but we made fairly short work of the climb and reached the chalet at the top of the Skyride in less than two hours.  After taking an extended break inside the chalet, we hiked the "Snowshoe Grind" to the top of Dam Mountain and then continued along "Dam Mountain Loop" which included an out-and-back ascent of Thunderbird Ridge.  Once again, all trails were well-packed probably from the hordes of people visiting over the previous long weekend, and we had no need to don our snowshoes.  Bill did so anyway at one point just to have some fun tramping through some powder.  While Bill had an annual pass for the Skyride and had planned all along to take it back down to the parking lot, Zosia and I briefly considered hiking down the BCMC Trail which is permitted (downhill hiking is forbidden on the Grouse Grind).  In the end, we opted to pay ($10 per person) for the 10-minute ride down with Bill rather than spend another hour or so putting more wear and tear on our knees descending the uninspiring BCMC Trail.  At the bottom, Zosia and I parted ways with Bill and then drove out to Squamish for the next leg of our road trip.
It's not the Grouse Grind, but it's a grind nonetheless! Zosia hikes up the BCMC Trail.
Finally, some visual relief! A break in the trees grants this view of Hollyburn Mountain (left), Mount Strachan, and Capilano Lake.
It took us about an hour and fifty minutes to get up here. Zosia and Bill arrive at the Grouse Mountain chalet.
Going down?

A Skyride gondola leaves the station to descend to the bottom of the mountain.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

What's with all the walkers for the skaters? Give 'em a hockey stick! Bill readjusts his ice cleats beside the skating rink near the chalet.  Dam Mountain is visible at left.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

I'm not sure what the uphill skiing policy is at this resort... Zosia and Bill make their way through the ski area to access Dam Mountain (left).  At right is the summit of Grouse Mountain and the top of the ski resort.
Grinder and Coola were apparently hibernating inside. This is the snow-covered home of two orphaned grizzly bears that have inhabited the Grouse Mountain wildlife refuge since 2001.
No snowshoes required on this day. Zosia and Bill follow the wide "Snowshoe Grind" toward Dam Mountain.
Watch out for butt-sliding snowshoers! Zosia climbs up a steep section.
At the time, I had no clue what "SSG" stood for! Sonny passes a marker wand along the "Snowshoe Grind".

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Wow, we're at the top already?? Bill and Zosia hike past the last couple of trees before the summit.
Success!! Sonny, Zosia and Bill stand on the summit of Dam Mountain (1347 metres).
Let's play Battleship! The view to the south includes supertankers crowding Burrard Inlet.
I wonder how many other peaks in this world are also called "Goat Mountain"... Bill and Zosia drop down the north side of Dam Mountain with Goat Mountain directly ahead.
Do we really need to go DOWN there? From the summit of Dam Mountain, Thunderbird Ridge (bottom) can be seen through a break in the trees to the east.
I didn't see it move at all on this day. The nearby Eye of the Wind is a combination of a wind turbine and a tourist observation deck.  It is anticipated to generate 25% of the electricity needed by Grouse Mountain resort.
I have some unfinished business left on The Lions... The view to the west includes (L to R) Beauty Peak, The Lions, Mount Harvey and Brunswick Mountain.
What doesn't look alluring on a gorgeous day like this?? Crown Mountain and The Camel look very alluring to the northwest.
I wish we were skiing here... Zosia and Bill follow the packed trail along Thunderbird Ridge.

A great place to bring a Krazy Karpet!

The marked trail ends at this open area just beyond the high point of Thunderbird Ridge (1247 metres).


Can you spot the crow? This is looking up at Dam Mountain from the high point of Thunderbird Ridge.
I hope to come back in the future to climb a few of these... From L to R are Crown Mountain, The Camel, Spindle Peak and Goat Mountain.
More peaks to add to my list of things to do... Cathedral Mountain is the most striking peak to the northeast.  Just right of centre is Mount Burwell, and further to the right is Coliseum Mountain.
It's not a summit, but it kinda feels like one! Zosia and Sonny stand beside the end-of-trail marker on Thunderbird Ridge.
This one and Rainier are high on my to-do list... Washington's Mount Baker stands out on the southeastern horizon.
Grouse Grind? Meh. Total Distance:  10.2 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  5 hours 47 minutes
Net Elevation Gain to Dam Mountain:  1062 metres

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