Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain: 700 m View map Download GPS track
Little Galatea is the name used in Andrew Nugara's Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies
for the southwestern subpeak of Mount Galatea. The views from the top were purported to be fantastic, but the described route ascends via an avalanche chute from the Chester Lake side and this was not a level of risk I was willing to assume. A few years ago, however, a safer route was published online
and it's been on my radar ever since. Today Little Galatea served as a good backup plan for Matt Hobbs
and I after our original plan of ascending Burstall Pass Peak was thwarted by low cloud and flurries.
We started our day with a quick snowshoe along the solidly packed Rummel Lake trail. Near the 3 km mark, where the trail makes a sharp 90 degree turn to the left towards Rummel Creek, we continued straight into the woods. We had to start breaking our own trail at this point, but for the most part the snow was supportive at this elevation. Matt's dog Crux, however, had a bit of trouble and our forward pace slowed quite a lot as we coaxed him onward.
Shortly after we left the main trail we turned to the left and started ascending the ridge near its northwestern end. While the ascent was briefly easy it soon became very steep and today the snow higher up was ridiculously unsupportive sugar. At times I'd spend several strenuous minutes simply pawing the snow in front of me grasping for a branch to pull myself up with. Faceplanting when the snow just slid out from underneath the snowshoes was common too. This continued for several hundred vertical meters before we finally emerged above treeline and were able to remove the snowshoes and hike on solid ground.
The ridge presented its own set of difficulties, however. While the ascent angle was pleasantly gentle now, the corniced ridge dropped vertically to the left and very steeply to the right, leaving only a narrow path where walking was comfortable. I got a bit ahead of Matt and Crux at this point, ascending a subpeak along the ridge before starting up a steeper snowy section. Crossing over the subpeak was somewhat exposed and to me was very similar to the section just past the large cairn on Little Lawson.
Unfortunately the snowy section beyond the subpeak proved just a bit too much for me today. It was incredibly steep and my attempt to detour around the dangerous part simply resulted in finding other routes I judged to be a bit too risky as well. I'd have continued with an ice axe, but today that was happily resting in my basement at home. After conferring with Matt back at the subpeak we decided to call it a day and head home, rationalizing that the subpeak of an unofficial subpeak was a good enough summit for the day!