Ascent of Île Fourchue High Point on 2010-02-06

Climber: Gabriel C

Date:Saturday, February 6, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Boat
Peak:Île Fourchue High Point
    Location:Saint Barthelemy
    Elevation:341 ft / 103 m

Ascent Trip Report

Île Fourchue summitI started a two week caribbean vacation in company of my parents and girlfriend with the intent on climbing as many island summits as possible. I already had done four last year in the BVI and I was going to visit at least three interesting islands this year further south in the leeward islands.

We landed in Philipsburg, St. Maarten on Friday the 5th and boarded our chartered sail boat. We would be island hopping for the next 7 days, going to many of the neighboring islands.

Saturday, we left the marina towards St. Barthélémy, French territory. We ended our first day at Île Fourchue, an uninhabited minor island a few miles off to the west of St. Barts. We picked up a mooring buoy for the night in the protected bay. It was already around 5:30pm when I decided to go for the summit, so I had less than an hour of sun left to work with.

Day in the caribbean falls extremely fast, so close we are to the equator, and it was only my first full day adapting to the region's heat and humidity. The summit looked impressive too, a jagged pinnacle rising through thorny undergrowth and dusty talus common to the carribean islands.

I left the ship by dinghy with my father towards the gravel beach in the far end of the bay. Waves were quite high that day, northerly swells made for 3-4 feet of rollers straight at the beach. Landing was successful and we then pulled the dinghy out of the rising tide's way. I then donned my boots and headed over the first hill towards the peak.

The terrain was surprisingly easy to cross and I jogged along in the heat. As I gained altitude and neared the pinnacle, the undergrowth became thicker and more cacti appeared. Navigation became a little more complicated as I also had to try and find the easiest way up to the summit. The northeast face rises straight up and might be an interesting one-pitch trad climb but it wasn't what I was looking for. Going around to the southwest, talus went a bit higher and there stood a less steep couloir that seemed to end up near the summit.

It wasn't that high, probably around 10 meters, and the holds were quite easy. Rock was mixed quality, I had to rip off some rotten wedges, but generally good. After a few minutes I was on top of the steep section and I then just had to hop from rock to rock until I was at the summit. From there I radioed my girlfriend who was monitoring me from the ship and she took a picture before I headed down. Downclimbing the couloir was a fun little 5 minutes, and from there I sped through the talus to race the sunset. I met my father back at the dinghy, he had been wandering on the island while waiting, and we prepared to take off. We had trouble starting the outboard when we left the boat earlier, so we only had rows to power ourselves off the beach. We had to wait for an unusually large wave to wash off giving us a nice undertow. Breaking through that wave got us quite wet, but we did it right and 5 minutes later we were back to the boat.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:341 ft / 103 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.5 mi / 0.8 km
    Trailhead:Beach inside cove  
    Grade/Class:2 & 3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Clear with light breeze
Ascent Statistics
    Time:20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:15 Minutes

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