Eden Mountain: Gully Grovelling and Needle Threading

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, read the full report on explorington.com

Eden Mountain is a high point among a series of bumps that form an aesthetic ridge in the Genesis Range. Like many peaks in the region, it’s seldom summited, has little in the way of trip report beta, and is nestled among a series of twisting logging roads. The trip reports we found were nearly useless, because they report approaches from a now-inaccessible and well-overgrown logging road. On July 15th, just two days after returning from a week-long adventure on the North Coast Trail, I joined a group of six Island Mountain Ramblers on our first attempt to summit Eden Mountain from the terminus of the CC800 spur off Compton Creek Mainline (~910m).

We anticipated a quick trip, as the total elevation gain and horizontal distance promised to be low; just 1.5 kilometers from the car as the crow flies, and 800 meters elevation gain. We could even see the summit from the car, rising high above the logging slash, bluffs, and bush. Of course, I’ve played this game before and know full well that regardless of the metrics, simple trips can turn into day-long adventures that leave me scratched, bruised, dirty, and bitten. The trip to Eden Mountain was made long because of four long waits while we moved people through two tricky pieces of terrain.

Total Distance: 6.7 km
Starting Elevation: 900 m
Maximum Elevation: 1623 m
Total Gain: 826 m
Total Time: 8 hours, 13 minutes

We routed northwest from the car into the logging slash, moving parallel to a dry watercourse. As we entered the old-growth, we moved away from the watercourse. At 1020 metres we reached a bluff, the first of the terrain that turtled our group. We each had our own ideas on getting over the 15-metre bluff. After backing down from a fourth-class section that was heading for fifth, I tackled a bushy gully — it’s difficult to say if we were climbing a mountain or the trees, but whatever we were doing it was a lot of fun! — and mounted the top of the bluff. Having completed the direct fifth-class approach, Phil was waiting for me, and together we waited for the last three to finish their ascents.

We rowed up through the bush, and around 1200 metres I left the group waiting in neck-high bushes while I scouted ahead. Through the trees, I spotted a gully hidden in the forest and tucked between bluffs. I threaded the narrow gully and passed the bluffs and bush on either side. As I scrambled, choss, dirt, and rocks dropped down from above my hands and careened down my approach route. I yelled out to my partners, but they couldn’t understand me, and were nearly hit by small stones whizzing by their heads. Once I was through the gully, I stood on a ledge and called instructions to those below me.

As my partners lacked the benefit of watching where I had put my hands, knowledge of what debris most recently moved, and seeing which trees I had used as climbing aids, it took more than 45 minutes for all six us to negotiate the complex terrain. The long wait meant that we all became a bug buffet. After clearing the gully, we traversed and climbed up through the thinning bush to an open meadow (~1300 m) below Eden Mountain’s summit block, and then up a lightly-treed slope to a shoulder southwest of the summit.


The heat took its toll on the group, and as I worked higher on the mountain the group started to fatigue and overheat, causing us to spread out. Again, each of us found a slightly different route to the summit, according to our strengths and preferences. Phil found some fifth-class overhanging rock to free-solo, and I found some easy gullies and rock to scramble and the obligatory thicket of cedar to push through.

By noon we were all standing on the summit, admiring the view of the surrounding terrain. The aesthetic bumps look like they hold good potential for anyone interested in summiting obscure objectives that are not the summits of named mountains.

We spent more than an hour on the summit (something I would come to regret later at home, as I missed the kids’ bedtime by a half-hour). The descent from Eden Mountain was slower than the climb; I’ll own part of that, because I wasted time exploring alternate routes in the hopes of avoiding the upper terrain obstacle. But in the end, we stuck to the route we knew– the down-scrambles were far more appealing than getting stuck on an unknown route. Additionally, the terrain caused delays on the descent; I know I was white-knuckling my way down the gully, hoping that the people waiting above wouldn’t kick any debris onto me. The wait for the others to descend was longer than on the way up.

When we finally reached the vehicle, I looked back on the summit, shaking my head. It may only be 1.5 kilometres as the crow flies, but because of the dense bush and bluffs, we had covered nearly seven kilometres by the time we reached the car. As I watched Rishi take the final steps, he looked like a beaten man: dusty, hair plastered to his face, a look of thirst in his eye and a bush sticking out of his hair. He sighed and held up his single pole; sometime in the last thirty minutes, the bush had stripped the poles from his pack. He didn’t have the energy to go back and look.

I’m sure there must be other routes to the summit of Eden Mountain. The one we found was a stroke of luck that gave us the route over the upper obstacle. If another route exists, I’d recommend using that. For instance, you might try following the watercourse near the road up to the southwest shoulder. If you try it and it works, drop me an email. I’d love to hear your story.

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