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Percy Creek - First Recorded Descent - September 2012

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:35 pm
by cirrus2000
Percy Creek - Take One

After enjoying our descents of Goldie Creek, on the slopes of Mount Seymour, Jeff and I were wondering about other drainages in the area. The standard route down Goldie starts quite low on the mountain, so we were interested in what was higher up the same drainage, and also interested in what lay in Percy Creek, the next drainage to the northeast.

On September 13, we decided to go have a look… After a long, slow morning deciding what to do, we packed 400 feet of rope along, and headed out a trail high on Mount Seymour. We still hadn’t decided which drainage we would descend. When we crossed the upper reaches of Goldie Creek, we decided to continue along the trail and try out Percy Creek.

We followed the trail all the way to Goldie Lake, and worked around to the outlet – the beginning of Percy Creek. After a while of strolling down the creek, through meadows and marshes, the creek eventually began to show a little bit of character. We began to see bedrock, and some small chutes and cascades began to develop. Finally, we reached a real downclimb – a fairly tight slot dropping 25 feet into a pool. We suited up – this was at about the crack of noon - and started down.

Soon, we were wading deep pools, downclimbing slippery slopes, and rapping tall waterfalls! Unfortunately at about 5 PM, about 4 rappels and numerous downclimbs in, I had a nasty twist to a previously injured knee, and could barely walk without terrible pain. Continuing on the treacherous bouldery terrain was impossible, and we knew we didn’t have time to finish the entire descent anyway – we had to exit the canyon.

We climbed carefully out up a steep slope to the right, and I gingerly followed Jeff for a couple of hours, hobbling along. We bushwhacked to the edge of Goldie Creek, and followed it down to a trail we knew crossed the creek, and then all the way out to the road. We arrived back at the car just before dark.

Re: Percy Creek - First Recorded Descent - September 2012

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:35 pm
by cirrus2000
Percy Creek - Take Two

Eight days after the first exploration, of the upper part of Percy Creek, Jeff and I decided to return and finish off the canyon. My knee was feeling a fair bit better, but was still nowhere near where it should be. However, we returned to the creek via a similar route to our exit, and managed to drop in just slightly above where we had bailed last time. Once again, we were fairly slow on the start, and weren’t into the canyon and suited up until some time after noon.

We came upon a waterfall that we thought would be a rappel, but looking closely along one edge, we found what almost seemed to be natural steps all the way down. It was a little exposed, but slowly and carefully, we made our way down.

From this spot, there was a long, long drop down a waterfall. It started relatively flatly, but curved down steeply to a small ledge with a pool and a rock horn. At first, we thought we could maybe follow the cascade down to the ledge, but it just became far too steep, slick and exposed.

Instead, we went left, and found a steep groove from the side that led down to the ledge. The bottom section also became quite exposed, but that could be minimized by moving back into the water flow.

I went down first, and gingerly made my way into the little pool, which was a nice, cozy, secure place to set up the next rappel. Jeff followed me, first lowering the rope bag to the ledge. From here, it was about 125 feet to the base of the waterfall.

After this, there was some basic boulder walking, interspersed with some blocky downclimbs and squeezes. We were just starting to get impatient for something interesting to happen, when we came upon the next rappel: 35 feet or so down a groove into a deep pool, off a slung boulder. I went down first, got off rope, and swam/waded to the far side of the pool. When I got there, I found another rappel, with no anchor material available. In fact, the rap dropped into another pool with no anchors, and there was another drop beyond.

Knowing we could ascend out if necessary, Jeff came and joined me. It looked like we might be able to climb up the side a bit to a tree to anchor the rest of the rappel, but it was a little too exposed. We discussed our options, and tried to figure out just how much rope it would take to get to the bottom.

We had brought only 300 feet of rope this day, as we hadn’t seen any rappels over 100 feet to this point in Percy or Goldie. It would not be enough to get us down all three stages of this rappel, though. However, by adding the 65 feet of webbing we had available, we would be able to manage about a hundred and eighty foot descent. I ascended to the anchor, and re-rigged for our three stage rap. Jeff descended the second and third stages, and there was just enough rope to make it. I followed, and though the pull was very difficult, we managed to retrieve all our rope!

A couple more rappels, and some downclimbing, and we reached a trail crossing the canyon. We were pretty sure that this trail led back up to the crossing of Goldie Creek, and beyond to the road. We continued a short way down canyon, but there seemed to be no more excitement to be had in the last few hundred feet to sea level.

We returned to the trail, and started up shortly before sunset. The trail was steep, and in some sections, barely incised into the ground as it traversed across the precipitous slopes. After half an hour, we reached Goldie, and continued toward the road. We needed headlamps for the last 10 minutes in the trees before emerging onto Mount Seymour Road.

Re: Percy Creek - First Recorded Descent - September 2012

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:35 pm
by cirrus2000
Percy Creek - The Final Push

We had descended the full length of the canyon, in two days – now we wanted to do it all in one push, take notes on all rappels, and collect a good GPS track of the route. Fix came with us, and the three of us got a fairly early start. I took video notes with my point and shoot, Fix took some photo and video for his film project, and Jeff did his best to look pretty, despite a tragic cyst on his forehead…

Trip went well, we were back to the car even earlier than expected, and a good time was had. The route may not be a classic, but it is a pretty solid day of canyoneering – eight to ten rappels, some fairly demanding downclimbing, and some gorgeous scenery. If the non-technical sections were a little shorter, the exit hike less demanding, and there were more flow in the canyon (we really want to see it with more water – rather than at the end of the driest summer I can recall), it would rate higher. Overall, though, a pretty good day in the woods!