Ascent of Mont du Lac à Papa on 2013-10-12

Climber: Gabriel C

Others in Party:JP Lavoie
Catherine Fleury
Date:Saturday, October 12, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mont du Lac à Papa
    Elevation:3346 ft / 1019 m

Ascent Trip Report

Keeping in touch with Jean-Philippe, he told me he was going to be in Québec a few weeks prior to this trip. We agreed to go bag some summits and he told me he hesitated between Gaspésie and Charlevoix as his destination. I could only spare one day as I worked on the others but ultimately, the plan was fit around this availability.

On Friday night, Jean-Philippe arrived in Québec around 21:00 and picked me up a bit after that. We headed in the old city to pick up Catherine and then stopped by the grocery store for some supplies. We then took the road towards Baie-St-Paul. In Clermont, we left HWY 138 and took a country road north towards ZEC du lac-au-Sable. When we reached the check in booth, I insisted on filling in a self-registration form before we proceeded.

The road wasn't too hard to follow, even in the darkness, but it was getting late. Our plan was to drive up to the plateau on which mont du lac à Papa site and try to bag it that night. The next morning we could move out to parc national des Hautes-Gorges and try to bag some of the other 1000m peaks in the area.

We passed the welcome center in pourvoirie club des hauteurs and kept going past lac Bazile. On the other side, we soon reached the junction where we would get out of the valley and onto the plateau. Jean-Philippe started up the trail but at the first left turn, we realized his SUV wouldn't get up there that easily. After carefully turning around, we stopped at the junction and decided to pitch our tent there.

After getting ready for the night, we finally went to sleep some time after 02:00 on Saturday morning. I put my watch alarm to 07:00, but when it rang, I simply stopped it and decided we could doze off a bit longer. Shortly after that, I heard the first vehicle pass along the main road. A few went by, including ATVs, and we finally rose from the tent just before 09:00. We packed our things and took the tent down as Jean-Philippe fixed some hot water for Catherine and him. I ate cold foods as I didn't want to carry to much equipment, and was soon ready to go. While we got ready, a couple more people drove past but no one went up the trail we would take.

The car was left where it stood and we started walking uphill. The temperature wasn't cold and we soon could take off some layers. The grade was steady but moderate at first and after some distance the road angled right and leveled off. To our right, a spur went downhill a bit to a platform that gave very nice views south. We stopped there for a few moments before continuing. The scenery complemented by the nice weather made for a very enjoyable hike.

The grade eased significantly and only in a few spots did we encounter steeper sections. A few turns brought us to a high spot on the plateau and as we crested over the horizon, our eyes met a tall mast up ahead. Its base was right beside the road, so we were curious to investigate it. The closer we got, the more we doubted it housed any equipment and when we reached it, that was obvious. The only remaining cables were simply ripped off where a control box must have been. Pondering on this equipment's use, we kept going. The curious part was how there was no secure perimeter and never seemed to have been one.

We reached lac Poulin soon after and we could see it through a notch from a sharp left turn in the road. We could see a second mast somewhere northwest and as the road angled away from the lake, I checked the maps to conclude we would be passing by that mast. A few minutes later, we reached it, although not getting off the road to check it out. Its base was past a small patch of trees. This mast was equipped with anemometers setup on horizontal crossbars at regular intervals.

As we kept going, we hypothesised it had something to do with wind turbines and that it was part of a wind study. This is still the most logical explanation. Past lac Poulin, we reached a ridge that the road circled around to the left before ascending through a shallow valley. As we went up this valley, amazing views west opened up and I saw my first big vertical walls. From there, only a few hundred meters more were left before we reached the upper plateau. As the road leveled off again, we could see much further, spotting many more masts. I was surprised to see one almost directly where we were headed that didn't appear on satellite imagery. It must be quite new.

When we reached that mast, it was obvious it was no more than a year old. The swaths that were cut for the cables were still strewn with debris, and the soil was still soft everywhere. The equipment on the mast was also minimally rusted, especially the padlocks.

We paused a few seconds, Catherine and Jean-Philippe leaving their packs behind, before we headed in the brush. Taking the southeastern swath to its end, we could then hop in the vegetation and start bushwhacking towards the true summit. It wasn't particularly dense, but some spots were harder. As we went further, the going got a bit easier until we reached the flat summit area. It was very hard to decide what was higher ground, so we separated and, finally, after I spotted a large boulder, stood on it and realized I was clearly above my surroundings, Jean-Philippe reported a similar spot. Looking at each other through the foliage, I guessed he was higher, but to be sure, Catherine walked back to my spot so Jean-Philippe could find it, and I then walked to Jean-Philippe's spot before he went to mine. Again, it looked higher where I stood. I wandered around north of that boulder as ground looked mostly level there and we all rejoined on our way north down the slight slope.

After emerging from the brush at the mast, we took a lunch break. Catherine was breaking in new boots and sported massive blisters on her heels. She didn't complain much on the way in and I was impressed by her tolerance to such pain. I spotted more cliffs to the far north and took some pictures again before we started the descent.

The way back was uneventful all the way to lac Poulin. As we skirted around and neared the second mast, I heard voices in the distance. Jean-Philippe put his Hi-viz shirt back on and we approached on the road. Three ATV riders were chatting on the road. They looked quite puzzled as we approached and we greeted them. They were very friendly and they explained how they were only riding in from the Saguenay, in L'anse-St-Jean. We talked for a few more minutes and then parted. Jean-Phhilippe soon removed the shirt as it was quite warm and we kept going. The only other significant event on the descent was when we crossed a 4-passenger ATV driven by what looked like a man and his grand-children. We waved as he passed us on the last big downhill stretch.

A few minutes later, we were back at the car. Catherine had fallen behind a bit and she reached us about two minutes later. We cooled down with some apple cider and snacks before we got back on the road towards Clermont. We passed many hunters on the first stretch before the Pourvoirie Club des Hauteurs pavilion. The scenery was amazing here, with many big walls everywhere, especially around lac Bazile and lac des Caleçons. I even spotted a gendarme almost exactly south of the PCH pavilion and parking.

From there, we only stopped in Clermont to pay the ZEC fee of $8,50 and then were on our way to Québec City.

The trailhead, with our tent behind the vehicle, and the plateau towards which we were heading in the background.

A couple kilometers in, this view south opens up, with sights on La Romane.

The road looked like this most of the time. We spotted the first mast here.

A new mast was setup about 200m northwest from the summit. We took a break there on the way out.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2732 ft / 831 m
    Extra Gain:669 ft / 203 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12.8 mi / 20.6 km
    Route:Forest roads, bushwhack
    Trailhead:Intersection from main forest road  1952 ft / 594 m
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 17 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 54 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Gabriel C
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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