Mount Benson – East Ridge

June 5, 2021

~ submitted by Matthew Lettington

Though we had a weekend-epic trip to the seldom summit Malaspina Peak, the west coast weather forecast proved too poor to warrant the long drive. In light of the island-wide forecast for rain –in varying amounts–, we changed our plan. Instead of the metal testing steep snow slopes, we opted for something local, Mount Benson.

Phil and I have done the east ridge route more times than I care to admit, throughout the pandemic. Our route covers 18 km and around 1050 metres of elevation gain. It’s a route that we can whip off in three to four hours. However, I’ve found that the metrics of elevation and distance matter only as much as the time you spend on your feet. In this way, I’ve found that a 7 hour day spent covering only a quarter of the distance and elevation can feel like just as much work as a quick rip up Benson. To make the day worth the trip for some of the folks travelling from up and down island, I proposed that we take our heavy backpacks to add in some conditioning!

So we each came to the hike according to what we wanted from the day. I brought a 45-pound backpack loaded with household cleaners and drywall mud, others brought heavier mountaineering gear, and still others did not even bring a backpack because they wanted to be out front being chased down by the three silly guys that thought it would be a great idea to hike with heavy backpacks.

All in all it was an expectedly fine day! Instead of blustery rain showers, we had glorious moments in the sun. We reached the summit in three hours and spend a fine break on the summit proper. We all took note that our location might have been the only location with the sun. As we looked out to Protection Island, Ladysmith and out toward the Nanaimo Lakes, we could see the showers dumping all around.

What a day! Our group of six enjoyed a fine day on Mount Benson.

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