Robie Lewis Reid had a lifelong friendship with Frederic W. Howay. Both started their working lives as teachers after passing the Provincial Teachers’ exam in mid 1880′s. Later they studied Law at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia before returning to judicial careers in British Columbia.
Today they are immortalized in two mountains: Mount Robie Reid (2,095 m) is the easier one to access and climb while Mount Judge Howay (2,262 m) is a more adventurous undertaking. A boat, a bicycle and some means of fording Stave River are needed just to reach the starting point.
A boat used to be required to reach Robie Reid’s trailhead until summer of 2007 when Wulf Pirang finished building a connecting trail from the gates on BC Hydro road (starting as Burma Street next to Stave Lake dam) to the original trailhead.
On Friday Dan picks me up and we drive to the Boundary meeting point. Half the people who signed up for this ACC Vancouver trip do not show up. We pick up Jay, who organized the trip, and drive to a beautiful campsite near the end of the access road.
Early alarm at 3:45 and we we are off by 4:25. It is hot, within half an hour I am hiking just in my shorts. We try to get through the forest as fast as possible before the sun heats it up beyond comfortable. We make the tarns, a magnificent campsite, by 9:05. A quick dip, sunscreen and sandwich later we are walking along a spectacular ridge with views of Mt. Baker and Judge Howay. Every time I turn back and look at Baker I think wow what a spectacular mountain.
We leave our poles at a little waterfall and head for the notch. Easy crossover between the snow and the rock, then scrambling over loose rock, water running everywhere. An obvious ramp leads toward the notch, still easy climbing until the last 7 meters. A chimney with easy start but horrible finish, loose rock hold together by sand.
From the notch we downclimb few meters, then head up a shallow gulley that brings us to the top of another snow field. We again downclimb around 15 m and head for the phalic repeater on the horizon. Beyond an easy ridge leads toward the summit block. Few climbing moves and we are enjoying views from the summit of Robie Reid: The Judge, the omnious looking N face of Robie Reid, Twin Sisters looking pretty but insignificant next Baker that is sprawling majestically in the SSE and many more, most of whom I cannot name.
We make the summit just in time, the afternoon clouds are slowly rising and within 45 minutes we are enveloped.
Time to retrace our steps. We dislodge rocks when setting up and rappeling from the notch off three old, but still strong, slings wrapped around a medium sized block (second ledge, S side, 5 m above the notch) and again when we take an advantage of a single bolt station lower down. Back on snow, then back at the waterfall, we refill our water bottles. Fun and fast boot skiing, followed by slower walking down the slabs, picking our way between strands of water running over the rock.
Afternoon break at the tarns, then a long, uneventful descent to Alouette Lake where we stop for an enjoyable dip. The water is warm, I could stay in it forever. We trudge back in declining light, snacking on wild raspberries along the road. Back at the car at I am tired but happy; bagging Robie Reid in one day is no picnic.