Ascent Trip Report
When we left the trailhead for mont du ruisseau des Montagnes Blanches, we had to get back to the main logging road and turn left. Following it for a few hundred feet, we then took another left on a logging trail. It was surprisingly good and we didn't get shaken as much as with the two previous trails. Pierre's Wrangler can go pretty far but it's not a comfortable ride, especially for the person who had to lay down in the back among all his gear crates on the mattress he has setup. The trail went up a slight col and then down in a valley before reaching a dead-end just below the cliffs of mont du lac des Montagnes Blanches. We had driven tens of kilometers all the way around the lac Philippe drainage basin to reach our furthest trailhead which is not even 2 kilometers away from RTE 19, at the opposite end of lac des Montagnes Blanches. I'm thinking that crossing the lake by canoe might be a simpler, more interesting proposition if one does not have a high clearance 4x4 vehicle.
After turning the Jeep around, we got ready to head out as we scouted the way ahead. The mountain rose to the south and we could see even more rock outcrops and cliffs than on the previous summit, which had already been a really steep climb. I proposed to attack the cliff head-on as there was bound to be a way up around. Pierre wanted to follow the ridge, apprehensive of a more difficult climb. We settled to follow the ridge and left the trailhead in a regrown logging rut. It disappeared almost immediately and we started bushwhacking in very dense regrowth forest. We angled right, towards the west, and started hearing running water in a shallow valley to the south. We followed the valley until Pierre judged that we were past the steeper slopes and got across the small but lively stream.
We were faced with an uphill right away and it was quite a bushwhack. The going was relatively slow but we maintained a steady pace. The slope was moderate but we did encounter a few short ledges that required our hands to get past. The slope gradually lessened and we then reached the top of the ridge. It was still a good distance away to the spot elevation location so we headed straight south until we reached a sparser area where, after checking a few bumps out and a clearing where the spot elevation had been measured, we found what we judged to be the high point.
The whole time we were climbing this very difficult bushwhack, I was already dreading the moment Pierre would want to keep going to the southern bump, almost a kilometer further and through a col 50 meters lower. If it is in his ambiguous list based on federal data, he makes a point of climbing any potential summit even if provincial data can differentiate between contenders. When that moment came, at the true summit we had just reached, I said I was less than thrilled to do that extra distance and that I'd be ready to bet a million dollars on the lower elevation of that southern bump. Serge was of the same opinion and we agreed that Pierre could keep going while we'd wait for him at his Jeep. After parting ways, I suggested we try to go down the steeper east face and Serge agreed.
At first, we reached a series of small taïga patches from which we had great views north and east. There were very steep cliffs below us and we skirted the edge, heading north. We found a series of mossy ledges that brought us down into the forest where we were able to follow steep drops from tree to tree along cliff faces. Somewhere along the way we went by a very unusual detached block that stood a few feet away from the main cliff. At the bottom of this steep pitch, we reached an obvious stream bed that was still covered in snow. We got across and followed its valley north, trying to stay on drier ground.
When the slope steepened, we angled left and tried not to follow the water too far downstream. The bushwhack was still quite difficult but we made it to the loud stream we had crossed on the way up. We then had to climb on the other side and instead of heading east and retracing our steps from the ascent, we headed in a rough straight line towards the trailhead. After crossing a moderately dense forest, we reached the logging patch and followed a rut to the wide clearing where the Jeep was parked. Serge laid down in the back while I sat in front and we dozed off, waiting for Pierre. There were a few showers during that time, the last waking me up for good. I got out and paced around for about a half hour, and about two hours after we had arrived, Pierre showed up.
As he stashed his gear, he confirmed that the southern bump was lower than the northern bump, from his barometer reading. We got back on the road and slowly made our way towards the main roads. The plan was to head north and try to find a way to mont du lac Bennett. When we reached our parked vehicles at the junction on RTE 62, Serge and I got in our vehicles, driving off towards our goal. We turned left on RTE 21 and followed it north past the junction for RTE 19. We were looking for a junction on our right that would get us closer to the summit but it eventually became apparent that all the trails around here were badly regrown and undrivable.
Instead of prodding potential avenues to mont du lac Bennett, we decided to go back west and climb mont du lac Gaudreau, which promised to be a very easy summit. After eating, we took the road towards our next objective.