Distance: 12 km
Elevation gain: 1100 m View map Download GPS track
With rain forecast to start by noon today, Sandra and I were looking for a quick and easy half-day hike close to home. Belmore Browne Peak immediately came to mind, but it shares the same approach as Tiara Peak and it wouldn't make a lot of sense to just do one, so to ensure we could tag both peaks before the rain came in we got up at 4:15 am and started the hike at 6:30! While a bit on the early side it made the drive much more pleasant and hiking in the cool of the morning was wonderful.
The crux of the entire trip was finding the point where the trail started along Powderface Trail. Luckily I had a GPS track, and after parking in a very small pullout we found a small cairn marking the start of the trail. The trail dropped steeply from the road and immediately intersected a reclaimed logging road (reclaimed meaning it's been covered in deadfall and the soil churned to support new growth). We followed this west, crossing a small creek about a kilometer from the road, then picked up a faint trail heading west just before the road turned left to cross the creek again. The turnoff point was well marked by several cairns, but the trail was quite faint until it reached the older forest and became a cutline.
We followed the cutline to the creek, then followed the creekbed upstream to where a drainage entered from the right. This drainage was the route to Belmore Browne, but we took to the forest a bit further upstream to avoid the rubbly mess of river rock. Eventually we were forced down into the drainage, but the jaunt through the forest was very easy and certainly more enjoyable than the loose rock of the drainage. At one point the drainage narrowed and filled with avalanche and flood debris, but an obvious trail to the right led us easily out of it and shortly afterwards Belmore Browne came into view. The ascent was straightforward from here and by 8:30 we were standing on the summit.
After a short stay we headed towards Tiara Peak, encountering several obstacles along the way that kept things interesting. We found easy ways through them all and at a slow pace arrived at the base of Tiara Peak about an hour after departing Belmore Browne. At this point things got a bit trickier. To gain the summit we had to circle around the peak, but a combination of underlying slabs, loose scree, and firm mud forced us to lose a fair bit of elevation in order to comfortably do so. Once back at the base of the summit cliff we picked up an obvious trail and followed it to where the final 100 m ascent began. Andrew Nugara
gives this scramble a rating of easy, but Bob Spirko
rates the final ascent moderate and I definitely agree with him on this one. Shortly after starting up the summit block I encountered rubble-covered slabs that couldn't be avoided. While I wouldn't have considered the area exposed had I been on scree, the threat of an uncontrolled slide made the nearby dropoff seem much more dangerous in my mind. Sandra retreated at this point, but I forced myself to continue. Thankfully this section was just 5 m long and the remainder of the ascent was easy, but that short section was still one of the most mentally difficult I've done.
After re-joining Sandra we headed down the drainage heading due east from the south end of Tiara Peak. While initially easy, the good scree soon transformed into slabs, then rubble, then hard mud, then thick bush before we finally reached a drainage that led us back to our approach route. The entire descent was rather unpleasant and returning back the way we came would have been a much better option.