The Coast Mountains are made up of many different types of
rock formation offering diverse climbing opportunities. Types of rocks found in this
region are granite, mantle, volcanic, sedimentary and metamorphic. One of the world's
largest masses of granitic rocks, the Coast Platonic Complex, makes up the Coast Mountain
Range. Volcanic and sedimentary rocks are mixed in this complex that varies in composition
and age. Few mountains are true granite, they are the Squamish Chief and peaks found
in the Chehalis and Chilliwack area. The youngest rocks in this region are the volcanic
type, an extension of the Cascade chain, and found in Garibaldi, Cayley and Meager
areas. Mountains to suit every type of mountain climbing are found within a few hours
History of mountaineering in this region dates back to the early
explorers, whose names and feats are lost forever, as no records were kept. The Skagit
and Chilliwack valleys were explored and surveyed from 1857 to 1862, when both British
and Americans were overseeing the International Boundary. Stanley Smith and a Mr.
Doolittle made their way from Squamish to Chilko Lake in the year 1893. They were
trying to find a viable overland route through the Coastal Mountains to the ocean.
Recreational climbing started in earnest after the 1903 ascent of The Lions.
In 1907 the Vancouver Mountaineering Club (which later became the BC Mountaineering
Club) was formed and soon organized climbs were happening. First recorded ascends
of Seymour, The Needles, Mt. Cathedral, the Lynn Peaks, Bishop and Mt. Burwell took
place in 1908. The first ascent of Mt. Garibaldi took place the year before. By the
end of the 1950's most of the mountains in and around Vancouver, Squamish and Chilliwack
were no longer strangers to mountaineers. Discovering new, technical routes and winter
mountaineering are the trends today.
Developing new, longer and more difficult
routes and the exploration of remote spots promise a long and prosperous future for
the sport of mountain climbing in British Columbia.
and Howe Sound:
and climbers are extremely fortunate, as they are within minutes of the mountains
and their favourite pastime. Most physically fit individuals with no need for special
mountaineering equipment can climb Seymour, Hollyburn, Black Mountain and other peaks
in the North Shore Mountains. The Camel on Crown Mountain, The Lions and Mt. Harvey
offer good rock climbs. The North Shore mountains, where winter mountaineering got
its start, is still popular.
Roads in North and West Vancouver that start from
Highway # 1, easily lead to most North Shore Mountains. Also reach the area from the
Sea to Sky Highway (The Squamish Highway # 99).
Mt. Seymour at 1450 metres (4766 ft.) is a popular moderate
mountain with easy access, but it also has its share of mishaps. Like most coastal
mountains, the terrain is rugged and the weather unpredictable. It can be confusing
and compasses are recommended. This is not a technically difficult mountain. From
Seymour, other peaks that are interesting but not difficult climbs include Runner
Peak, Mt. Bishop, Coliseum Mountain and Cathedral Mountain.
Grouse Mountain that is 1177 metres (3861 ft.) is easily
reached, by taking one of the five approaches. North from Grouse is a rock and a heather
knoll called Goat Mountain that stands at 1319 metres (4327 ft). Located above the
Capilano River is Crown Mountain reaching heights of 1503 metres (4931 ft.). Crater
Rim on Crown provides some Class 4 climbing. The Camel, a peak on the north side of
Crown's highest summit offers Class 4 down climbing. Reaching the head of the Camel
is the allure of this climb.
is 1324 metres (4345 ft.) and easily accessible from Cypress Bowl cross country and
down hill ski area. Neither route is difficult. Or you can reach the peak from Highway
The Lions (West Lion and East Lion):
Lions is a prominent landmark. The western summit is higher and a more popular climb.
Reach the Lions from Cypress Bowl's down hill parking lot. Make your way around the
west side of Mt. Strachan, up Unnecessary Mountain to the base of the Lions. A sharp
gap isolates the peak. Climbing the West Lion should not be underestimated, if not
properly equipped or psyched, do not go beyond the gap. Still another popular climb
is the north face, which takes approximately seven hours from the road and is a Class
5.7 climb. To climb the northeast buttress, take the same approach as you would to
the north face. This climb is Class 5.3 and takes about six hours from the road. The
southeast gully leads to the summit snow slopes and has good ice in winter. Reach
the base of this route by going up the northeast side, using the same approach as
the north face. The East Lion at 1599 metres (5245 ft.) might not be as high, but
is more difficult than the West Lion that is 1646 metres (5401 ft.) in height.
good mountain climbing in this region is Mt. Harvey at 1703 metres (5590 ft), Brunswick
Mountain at 1785 metres (5855 ft.), Mt. Hanover at 1747 metres (5730 ft.) and Capilano
Mountain at 1685 metres (5529 ft.). On leaving the north shore, sections will look
at mountain climbing that follows the Sea to Sky Highway from Horseshoe Bay to Pemberton.
The first good climbing region out of Vancouver is the Sky
Pilot area, found before you get to Garibaldi Provincial Park and easily approached
from the Sea to Sky Highway (Squamish Highway 99). Although not as popular as other
mountains, it has alpine lakes, meadows, good approaches, a cluster of peaks and is
close to Vancouver. Approach from Furry Creek Road, Britannia Townsite, the Mountain
Lake Hut, from Petgil Lake or the Stawamus River. Sky Pilot Group at the head of Britannia
Creek consists of metamorphic volcanic rock that is quite firm.
Sky Pilot Mountain
that reaches a height of 2025 metres (6645 ft.) features a few different routes, but
the most popular is the south ridge. Start the climb from the head of Marmot Creek,
or from the scree basin southeast of Sky Pilot, or head to Gunsight Gap that separates
Sky Pilot from Ledge Mountain. Rated as a Class 2 to 3 climb, it takes about two hours
of climbing from the basin.
Located east of Sky Pilot Mountain is The Ledge
at 1920 metres (6300 ft.). Rated as a Class 2 to 3 climb, it is approximately an hour
and a half climb from the basin. An interesting trek that takes approximately 2 1/2
hours is the climb up the west shoulder. Climbing the north face can take a full day
on sound rock. Or climb the south face that is a Class 5.6. Other excellent mountaineering
in the Sky Pilot area includes The Ledgelette at 1860 metres (6100 ft.), the Tombstone
Tower at 1800 metres (5900 ft.), the Nai that is 1740 metres (5700 ft.) and Mt. Habrich
at 1700 metres (5600 ft.).
Next with good climbing is Garibaldi Provincial Park. Situated
along the Sea to Sky Highway, Garibaldi is only 64 km (40 miles) from the city of
Vancouver. Popular Whistler Ski Village is just
off the northwestern boundary of the park. Garibaldi's proximity to Vancouver and
Whistler makes it the most popular and used provincial park in BC. It is an outdoor
playground used by hikers, climbers and skiers. The most popular ski touring destinations
are Garibaldi Lake, Helm Glacier, and Black
Tusk Meadows. Experienced skiers head to Spearhead Range that takes them into the
alpines of Singing Pass area. Hiking and climbing in Garibaldi Park is not technically
demanding but fun and most people return often to explore the different areas. Many
different approaches and routes lead into the park where climbing, hiking and ski
touring are enjoyed.
Volcanic action formed many peaks in Garibaldi, giving
them their own distinct looks and features. They include the Black Tusk, Price Mountain,
Cinder Cone, The Table, Mount Garibaldi and the Glacier Pikes, to name a few.
Garibaldi (2678 m/8787 ft.):
For an excellent view of Mount Garibaldi
at 2678 metres (8787 ft.), look northeast from Squamish. The mountains are mainly
young with loose volcanic rock, but are very popular. Routes mainly stay to the glaciers
where possible, this is due to the rock composition. Atwell Peak (Diamond Head) is
the sharp southern summit and Dalton Dome is the western peak.
to Mount Garibaldi from the Elfin Lakes Shelter onto the neve is a high avalanche
area in winter and spring, taking the longer but safer ascend, is best. Head from
Alice Ridge by climbing northwest from the Elfin Lakes shelter and cross the saddle
between Columnar Peak and the Gargoyles. Now descend to Ring Creek and make your way
to Garibaldi Neve. To reach the east face from this point, climb the glacier between
Garibaldi and Atwell, head up summit glacier to the west peak of Garibaldi. This takes
about six hours from Elfin Lakes. Going northwest from the neve reaches the northeast
face onto the east ridge below The Tent. Go west, making your way to the head of Warren
Glacier and the final steep slopes.
Dalton Dome at 2620 metres (8600 ft.) features
three different routes to the summit. They are the north face, northwest face and
the southwest ridge. Atwell Peak is 2620 metres (8600 ft.) high and usually climbed
in winter or early spring. It offers climbing options such as the north ridge, east
face, south ridge, northwest face, Siberian Express and the Armenian Express.
This is the most popular climbing area in the park. A track has been
worn to the base. The real climb on Black Tusk that reaches heights
of 2315 metres (7593 ft.) is the chimney. Although it is a Class 2 to
3, the rock is steep and one should be careful. The open ridge that
is northeast of Black Tusk is called Empetrum Peak at 1992 metres (6536
ft.). Good ski routes are the features of Panorama Ridge, Corrie Peak,
Gentian Peak and Helm Peak.
The highest peak east of Garibaldi Lake is Castle Towers Mountain
at 2675 metres (8778 ft.) in height. It can be reached from the west ridge, south
side, east side or the northwest face. Other excellent climbing in this region is
Phyllis' Engine, granite spires south of Castle Towers that tower to 2560 metres (8400
ft.). Across Cheakamus Glacier from Castle Towers is Mt. Davidson at 2500 metres (8200
ft.) and Mt. Carr at 2590 metres (8500 ft.) is southeast of Castle Towers. The Bookworms,
The Sphinx, Deception Peak, Guard Mountain, The Table, Mount Luxor and many others
offer good climbing in this region.
range takes in Whistler Mountain at 2190 metres (7200 ft.), the Singing Pass Area,
Overlord Mountain, Diavolo Peak, Mount Fitzsimmons, Cheakamus Mountain and Mount MacBeth.
The Fitzsimmons range peaks are glaciated and alpine, but no technically difficult,
and popular in summer and winter.
Whistler Mountain, combined with Blackcomb
Mountain, is world famous as a ski area. It is the most popular ski mountain in North
America and possibly the world. Nevertheless, it is also famous for hiking, mountain
biking and climbing.
The Spearhead Range:
north of the Fitzsimmons Range, the Spearhead Range is icy but gentle. A recommended
ski trip is the traverse of Spearhead and Fitzsimmons ranges, which will take from
3 to 4 days. Blackcomb Peak at 2440 metres (8000 ft.) is at the west end of the Spearhead
Range and part of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski resort. The central range includes Mt.
Torey and Mt. Pattison, while Tremor Mountain, Shudder Mountain and Quiver Peak are
the main eastern summits of the range.
Northern Section of Garibaldi
This area sports the highest peaks and the best weather in the
park. Most treks can be approaches by way of Wedgemount Lake. The highest mountain
in Garibaldi Park is Wedge Mountain at 2904 metres (9527 ft.). The summit can be reached
by the west ridge, north couloir, north arete, north face, the northeast side or the
south side. Northwest of Wedgemount Lake is Mount Weart that reaches 2870 metres (9400
ft.) in height. Other summits in this region of the park are The Owls, Eureka Mountain,
Mt. Neal, Mt. Currie and Mt. James Turner.
McBride Range is mostly used by ski
touring parities and consists of Mt. Sir Richards, Tenas Peak, The Orphans, Talon
Peak, The Lettuce Cutters, The Gatekeeper and the Forger Glacier Peaks. These are
all easy summits with few technical difficulties.
& Squamish River Area:
The north boundary is the Lillooet River,
the south is Ashlu Creek, while the eastern boundary is Highway 99 and the Elaho River
forms the western boundary. This is an alpine playground year round. The meadows of
Brew and Tricouni offer colourful hiking during the spring. Sproatt, Rainbow and Ipsoot
are popular with the snow board crowd. Because of the huge amount of snow and improved
access, ski touring is getting more than its share of people. General mountaineering
is good in the Squamish area on Cayley, Tricouni and Mount Fee. Approaches to this
region are from the Sea to Sky Highway # 99, from Ashlu Creek, the Squamish River
Road, Elaho Logging roads and from Lillooet River.
Climbing and hiking are both
increasing yearly in the Squamish-Cheakamus Divide area. This is because the area
is close to Vancouver and offers good ski touring. Mountains that are gaining popularity
include Mt. Brew, Cypress Peak, Tricouni Peak, Mt. Fee, Mt. Cayley, Brandywine Mountain,
Pyroclastic Peak, Vulcan's Thumb, Rainbow Mount, Mt. Callaghan, Sugarloaf Mountain
and Ipsoot Mountain.
Found between the Lillooet River and the head of Squamish
River is a large glacial complex known as the Pemberton Icefields. In recent years,
new roads have been carved into this region making it more accessible. Overseer Mountain
at 2745 metres (9000 ft.) is the highest summit of this icefield. Other accessible
summits are Spidery Peak, Pika Peak, Blanca Peaks, and Longspur Peak.
This mountain range lies in a northwest direction from
Squamish and has rock and snow climbing that is challenging. The best approach to
the Tantalus is from Lake Lovely Water but can also be reached from Sechelt and Gibsons
Landing on the Sunshine Coast.
Standing above the Squamish Valley at the southwest
end of Lake Lovely Water is Omega Mountain at 1860 metres (6100 ft.) in height. Climb
either the north side or the west ridge. Both are Class 3 climbs. Mt. Niobe at 2010
metres (6600 ft.) is the highest mountain south of Lake Lovely Water. All four routes
to the summit are a Class 3. Both Alpha Mountain and Serratus Mountain feature different
trails that are all rated between a Class 3 and Class 4. The highest peak of the Tantalus
Range at 2603 metres (8540 ft.) is Mt. Tantalus and its southern partner is Mt. Dione.
To reach the summit on Tantalus could take up to three days. The routes vary from
Class 3 right up to Class 5.7. Other mountains in this range that offer good climbing
are Lydia, Ionia, Zenith, Pelion and Ossa.
The Meager Group
and the Manatee Group:
Approach these two groups from the Lillooet River
Road, fly in, then ski or hike out. The Meager Group consists of sharp peaks of rotten
volcanic rock that are not technically difficult. Plinth Peak at 2680 metres (8790
ft.) is the highest peak in the group and found in the northeast corner. Others are
Mt. Meager at 2650 metres (8680 ft.), Capricorn Mountain, Mt. Job, Plyon and Devastator
Manatee Group features a few major peaks, alpine terrain and awesome
scenery. Sirenia Mountain that reaches heights of 2853 metres (9359 ft.) and Wahoo
Tower at 2850 metres (9350 ft.) offer solid rock and good climbing. The highest summit
is Manatee Peak at 2859 metres (9380 ft.) and rated a Class 3.
is the area west of Bridge Glacier, east of Railroad Creek-Hurley River Road, south
of Lillooet River and north of Bridge River. This region offers good alpine climbing,
ski touring, scrambling and hiking. Approach North Creek vicinity from the Lillooet
River Road or the Hurley River Road. Interesting mountains include Mt. Vayu at 2774
metres (9100 ft.), Mt. Thiassi at 2740 metres (9000 ft.), Mt. Samson that towers to
2800 metres (9200 ft.) and Mt. Athelstan at 2770 metres (9100 ft.) plus many others.
Southern Chilcotin Area:
The valley systems, gentle summits and ridges
make this region great for ski touring, backpacking and alpine hiking. From the Lillooet-Gold
Bridge Road many approaches lead into the different ranges dotting this area. Explore
the Dickson Range that offers excellent terrain for ski touring. The Shulaps Range
with Shulaps Peak at 2775 metres (9105 ft.) is a class 2 with snow and loose rock
climbs. Big Dog Mountain that is not technically difficult is at the north end of
Shulaps Range and North of Seton Lake is Mission Ridge at 2404 metres (7886 ft.).
This is a perfect area for mountaineers to take novice climbers
as it has everything a student needs. There are ridges, alpine lakes, rock faces,
glaciers and icefalls. Although, the peaks are not technically difficult, the scenery
and wilderness quiet is very appealing. Most of the approaches are from the Duffy
Lake Road. Joffre Peak that reaches a height of 2710 metres (8900 ft.) offers ten
different climbing options, that range from Class 3 to mid Class 5 and variety in
length. Between Lillooet and Duffey Lakes is Mt. Matier. This is the highest summit
in the region and towers 2770 metres (9100 ft.) Depending on which route you take
up, they range from Class 3 to 5.
of this region is growing with hikers, alpine climbers and ski tourers. Here are open
meadows, alpine ridges, lakes and small glaciers that are easily reached with non
technical mountaineering. There is also easy access to the Stein divide and the upper
Stein Valley from Lizzie Lake. Approaches to the climbs are from Lizzie Creek, Rogers
Creek, and Gowan Creek. Summits include Arrowhead Mountain, Cloudraker Mountain, Tundra
Peak and Priory Peaks. A group of high summits make up the divide between the Stein
River and Lizzie Creek.
The Anderson River and Coquihalla Area:
area lies between the Fraser Canyon
on the Trans-Canada Highway and the Coquihalla Highway, offering two very different
types of climbing. The Coquihalla area is best suited for fall climbing and most summits
are not technically difficult, but places are challenging. In the northern area, the
Anderson River Group offers granitic summits, good access and interesting climbs.
Approach this area from the Coquihalla Highway, the Fraser River and the Coldwater
River Road. Western and central summits are easily reached from the Anderson River
Anderson River Mountain at 1977 metres (6485 ft.) is the most northwest
summit in the Anderson River Group and an easy scramble. The most popular climb is
Chamois Peak at 2010 metres (6600 ft.) that ranges from a Class 3-4 to a Class 5.7.
Good quality rock climbs can be experienced on the rocky parapets east of Chamois,
called Les Cornes. Ibex Peak is the highest in the western cluster reaching a height
of 2010 metres (6600 ft.). The north ridge is a Class 3, the southeast ridge has variations
up to Class 5.9 and the east ridge reaches a Class 5.10. Steinbok Peak at 1980 metres
(6500 ft.) offers climbing that reaches to a Class 5.9 on the northeast buttress.
Check out the many other interesting and good climbing mountains that exist in this
area. Between Boston Bar Creek and the Coldwater River are climbs to Zopkios Ridge
that consists of Yak Peak, Nak Peak and Thar Peak.
Situated between Harrison Lake on the east, and Stave River and Lake on the west
is the Chehalis Range. It takes in The Ratney group to the south and the Clark group
to the north. Climbing varies from easy to moderate skills. Chehalis River Main Line
Road offers fair access to most the major summits.
The Ratney Group means good
climbing on Mt. Bardean at 1930 metres (6300 ft.), Mt. Ratney that is 1960 metres
(6434 ft.) in height and Stonerabbit Peak at 1830 metres (6000 ft.). Mt. Clarke at
2171 metres (7100 ft.), Recourse Peak at 2100 metres (6900 ft.) and Viennese Peak
at 2130 metres (7000 ft.) are all part of the Clarke Group. The Grainger Group is
made up of Nursery Peak at 2070 metres (6800 ft.) and Grainger Peak at 2197 metres
(7207 ft) high.
The Chilliwack Valley:
offers something for every climber. It has challenging alpine routes, hiking trails
and scrambling. Chilliwack Valley is also well known for its many technical climbs
that range from Class 4 to Class 5.6 or 5.7. Chilliwack Valley is popular with all
types of mountain climbers and it is only a couple of hours from Vancouver, making
the region accessible to weekend outdoor adventures. Main approach to the valley is
from Chilliwack Lake Road and its many logging side roads.
Easy seen from the
Chilliwack area is Tomyhoi Peak at 2271 metres (7451 ft.) with a flat bench glacier
at the 1980 metres (6500 ft.) level. The Canadian Border Peak, is a steep peak that
towers up to 2225 metres (7400 ft.) Situated just north of the border it offers Class
3 to Class 4 climbing. American Border Peak is higher at 2446 metres (8026 ft.) and
south of the border. It offers four different routes that are Classed from 3 to 5.
The Pleiades at 2240 metres (7360 ft.) high is a ridge just south of the border offering
climbs of Class 3 to 4.
Slesse Mountain at 2375 metres (7800 ft.) high is a
popular, exhilarating peak. All routes require roped climbing and there are nine different
ones. Towering to 2320 metres (7600 ft.) high is Mt. Rexford, a massif that dominates
the area east of Sleese Mountain. It provides fine clean climbing with four different
routes to the summit.
The Cheam Range:
and accessibility make the Cheam Range a popular climbing area. It is easy to approach
from the Trans Canada Highway, east of Chilliwack. At 2107 metres (6913 ft.) Cheam
Peak can be seen from as far away as 50 km (30 mi.). Winter mountaineering is becoming
a favourite past time on the Cheam Group. The northeast ridge of Cheam Peak is a class
4, the north face-direct is up to 5.7 and the north face-right side is a mixed climb
with challenges and falling stones.
Welch Peak, is the highest peak in the Cheam
Range. Both the northern and eastern flanks are glacier covered and the peak is impressive.
It reaches to 2440 metres (8000 ft.) in height and all routes are Class 3 to 4 climbs.
The boundaries of this region are the Trans Canada Highway on
the north, Lightening Creek to the south, Highway 3 and Skagit River to the east and
Chilliwack Lake to the west. In the middle is a region of many summits that are of
moderate elevation. Nevertheless, there are also challenging climbs. Approaches are
from Ross Lake Road or from Highway # 3, the Hope-Princeton Highway.
at 2160 metres (7100 ft.) offers climbers three different routes up to the summit.
Mt. Ridout that towers 2447 metres (8029 ft.) high, is rated from a Class 3 to 5.3.
The west ridge on Silvertip Mountain is a Class 3. The northeast ridge is a rock climb
and rated as a Class 5 before the crest. Great hiking and ski touring is available
on Custer Ridge. Other good climbing mountains in the Skagit include Wright Peak,
Desolation Peak, Shawatum Mountain and the Hozomeen Group.
Manning Provincial Park established in 1941 is one of the busiest
parks in British Columbia. This park does not offer any really technical climbs. Instead
it features excellent alpine hiking trails, ski touring and cross country skiing.
The main approach to Manning Park is the Hope-Princeton Highway (Highway 3), which
bisects the park. From the park headquarters and the Manning Park Lodge are many trails
that lead into wilderness areas and exciting back country hiking. Enjoy hiking to
the summits of Mt. Outram, Snass Mountain, Warburton Peak, Mt. Dewdney, Silverdaisy
Mountain and Three Brothers Mountain.