August 19-22, 2018

Stewart Peak (7343′)
Baby Munday Peak (7382′)
Knight Peak (7283′)

——————– Trip Report Summary ——————–

Region: Canadian Cascades

Starting & Ending Point: Foley Creek Bridge (Airplane Creek Road)

Way Points: Baby Munday Trailhead & Rusty Gear Camp & Airplane Creek Footlog & Baby Munday Meadows (hike)

Campsites: Baby Munday Meadows & Rusty Gear Camp

Side Trip: Baby Munday Lake & Stewart Tarn (hike & scramble)

Summit: Stewart Peak (climb via Southeast Ridge)

Summit: Baby Munday Peak (climb via Southeast Couloir—Southeast Ledges—South Ridge; descent via South Ridge—Southwest Slope)

Side Trip: Knight Creek Basin (hike)

Summit: Knight Peak (climb via East Slope)

Approximate Total Stats:  20 miles traveled; 9200 feet gained and lost.

——————– Full Trip Report ——————–

Eileen, Fay, and I ventured into the Cheam Range of British Columbia to tackle several of the middle peaks.  This was our third Cheam trek in the past four years, and we finally feel that we are getting familiar with the terrain.  Although forest-fire smoke was a pervasive theme of our trip, it didn’t affect our fun or success.

Day 1 – Foley Creek Bridge to Baby Munday Meadows:

Following directions from both Cascade Alpine Guide and Club Tread, we drove about 17 miles east of Vedder Crossing and turned left onto the Cheam/Foley Road.  We then continued another 2.8 miles to Airplane Creek Road, which begins at a wooden bridge over Foley Creek.  Our concerns that a gate at the bridge might be closed were unfounded because the dilapidated old gate is not even capable of being closed now.

Both reference sources also provided accurate information regarding distances and directions on the Airplane Creek Road.  However, they left out one minor detail:  THIS ROAD IS HORRIBLE!!  It would be passable only by a serious 4-wheel-drive rig with high clearance or by a true off-road vehicle; urban 4×4 vehicles won’t cut it.  Rather than risk massive undercarriage damage, we parked next to the bridge and began our hike from there (approx. elev. 1475 feet).

Hiking Up Airplane Creek Road

We walked up the initial steep segment of road, staying left at a fork, and continued up a series of switchbacks.  Along the way, we passed this vehicle that had been carefully parked beside the road.  I assume the driver walked from here.

Unfortunate Truck On Airplane Creek Road

In about 2 miles, we passed a second road junction, and here we stayed to the right (straight ahead).  After a total distance of about 3 miles, we reached the official Baby Munday Trailhead at a big road switchback (approx. elev. 3200 feet; 1.8 hours + 1700 feet from car).

Eileen & Fay At Baby Munday Trailhead

Baby Munday Trail starts as an overgrown road that parallels Airplane Creek for 1.7 miles, then turns sharply to the right and follows a short spur road.  The spur road is littered with old logging debris, such as cables and this large, rusty gear.

Rusty Gear On Spur Road

Through the smoke-filled air, Baby Munday Peak and The Still could be seen high above.

Baby Munday Peak & The Still From Trail

From the end of the spur road, a footpath drops 250 feet to Airplane Creek, which was easily crossed on a series of logs (approx. elev. 3450 feet; 4.0 hours + 2300 feet from car).

On the north side of Airplane Creek, the Baby Munday Trail ascends steeply through dense forest.  I wouldn’t call this a “trail” in the traditional sense; it is really just a well-defined and well-maintained climber’s path—perhaps comparable to the Terror Basin access path.  Logs and limbs have been cut out, and there are numerous markers along the way.

Somewhere around elev. 5300 feet, the trail surmounts a little rock step and enters the green expanse of Baby Munday Meadows underneath the impressive pinnacles of Baby Munday Peak.

Baby Munday Peak From Climbers Path

At elev. 5600 feet, the trail turns right and begins traversing easterly.  A cairn here marks a side path that drops down to a grassy bench, where we stopped for the day (7.0 hours + 4300 feet from car).  I found running water in a tiny drainage 150 yards northeast of camp.

Camp In Baby Munday Meadows

Day 2 – Stewart Peak & Baby Munday Peak:

Following a cold, windy night, we awoke to a warm morning.  Everything to the south of us was totally obscured by smoke, but there were partially blue skies toward the north.  Leaving camp, we hiked northeastward on the path extension, which grew increasingly faint.

Traversing To Baby Munday Creek

When the trail disappeared completely, we angled uphill to the north and crossed under the eastern face of Baby Munday Peak.  Not seeing an obvious ascent route, we continued traversing above “Baby Munday Lake” toward Stewart Peak.

Baby Munday Lake
Baby Munday Peak From Stewart Peak Ridge

Stewart Peak presents itself as a handsome rock horn rising above tarn-dotted benches.

Stewart Peak From Upper Tarn

The southeastern ridge of Stewart Peak provided a straight-forward Class 2-3 route to the summit (3.8 hours + 1900 feet from camp).

Eileen & Fay On Stewart Peak Summit

From Stewart’s summit, the other Cheam peaks were visible in the smoky air.

Knight Pk & Lady Pk & Cheam Pk From Stewart Pk

After descending Stewart Peak, we traversed back over to Baby Munday Peak and climbed up a short couloir that ended at a 7000-foot col in the south ridge.  There, we roped up and began simul-climbing northward on a complicated series of Class 3-4 ledges.  The climbing was never very difficult, but the rock was loose and the exposure was very unnerving.

Traversing Southeast Side Of Baby Munday Pk
Climbing Southeast Face Of Baby Munday Pk

After much white-knuckle scrambling, it was a relief to finally regain the crest of the south ridge at a tiny notch about 150 feet below the summit tower.  However, the exposure on this gnarly ridge was even greater than on the ledges below.

Climbing South Ridge Of Baby Munday Pk

Two short pitches of Class 4-5 rock earned us the summit in late afternoon (7.7 hours + 2800 feet from camp).

Stewart Pk From Summit Of Baby Munday Pk

Beckey states that Baby Munday Peak is a reasonable Class 3 scramble, but we heartily disagree; it felt like one of the more difficult peaks any of us had done, given the combination of high exposure, technical moves, loose rock, and marginal protection.

Foley Pk & Welch Pk & The Still From Baby Munday Pk

There was no summit register, so Fay left a small tube in the large cairn.

Eileen & Fay On Summit Of Baby Munday Pk

We carefully descended the south ridge by a combination of belayed down-climbing and simul-climbing, along with two short rappels.

Down Climbing South Ridge Of Baby Munday Pk
Rappelling Down South Ridge Of Baby Munday Pk

Our final traverse back to the south col included an exciting Class 4 catwalk across a vertical cliff.  We reached the col shortly before dark (3.1 hour from summit) and made a group decision to descend the western side of the ridge rather than retracing our steps down the eastern side.  This turned out to be a good decision; we were able to angle down scree slopes into Knight Creek Basin, then drop straight down the creek on huckle-heather slopes.  We reached our camp at about 10:00pm (5.2 hours from summit) to end a highly satisfying 13-hour day.

Day 3 (AM) – Knight Peak:

Once again, we awoke to heavy smoke toward the south but partially blue skies toward the north.  Thankfully, our goal for the day was Knight Peak, located due north of camp.  We hiked straight up the huckle-heather slopes to Knight Creek Basin, passing many interesting rocks along the way.  One large granite boulder in particular caught our eyes.

Hiking Up To Knight Creek Basin
Fay On Granite Boulder In Knight Creek Basin

Knight Peak has impressive cliffs on the western and southern aspects, but the eastern slope is merely an alpine stroll to the summit.

Hiking Toward Knight Peak
Strolling Up East Side Of Knight Peak

We were on top shortly after noon (2.3 hours + 1700 feet from camp).

Eileen & Jim On Knight Peak Summit

Looking at the precipitous horn of Baby Munday Peak across the basin, we could see why it felt like such a spicy climb yesterday!

Stewart Pk & Baby Munday Pk From Knight Pk

After returning to camp in mid-afternoon (1.6 hours from summit), we spent an hour relaxing in the bug-free heat while slowly packing up.

Day 3 (PM) – Baby Munday Meadows to Rusty Gear Camp:

Our descent from high camp to Airplane Creek was every bit as steep and tedious as anticipated, taking the rest of our afternoon.  There are no campsites near the creek, so we hiked 250 feet up to the mossy spur road above the creek (3.1 hours from high camp).  Given the absence of bugs and rain possibilities, we simply threw our sleeping bags on the ground in an open flat spot, which we dubbed “Rusty Gear Camp” for obvious reasons.  I made a separate trek back down to Airplane Creek to fetch water for dinner and breakfast.

Eponymous Artifact Of Rusty Gear Camp

Day 4 – Rusty Gear Camp to Foley Creek Bridge:

Our final morning merely involved a 4.7-mile hike back down the trail and road.  Upon reaching our car at the Foley Creek Bridge (2.9 hours + 50 feet from low camp), we saw other people for the first time in four days.  This area appears to be in little danger of being overrun by hikers and climbers.

 

——————– Route Map / Sketch ——————–

——————– Photo Gallery (click to enlarge) ——————–