The Ramblers trip to Malaspina Peak was disrupted on Saturday morning by a large Grand Fir that had laid to rest across the Canton West Main, a few kilometres before where we wanted to go. I hadn’t thought to throw my saw into the truck, but cutting it up will be a fairly big project anyway. We did briefly try to pull it out of the way, but no.
So we decided to go for Tahsis Mountain. When we did Santiago the previous week, we got a look at the approach that Lindsay had taken from the same area to ascend Tahsis Mountain. This seems to involve a fair bit of road walking and bush now, so taking the alternative route, ascending in the Malaspina drainage, that I’d explored previously had some appeal. I guess I’d kinda forgotten that that also involved a fair bit of road walking and bush (probably considerably more).
Santiago Mountain rises from the shores of Tahsis Inlet on the west coast of Vancouver Island. From its summit, you can see some of the best views of Nootka Island, Tahsis Inlet, and some of the island’s most prominent peaks. Yet, for all its selling points, Santiago Mountain sees very few summits. At 1485 metres, this bushy peak’s summit barely reaches the alpine, but still includes enough tree-climbing, exposed scrambling, exposed tree climbing, and long, steep snow slopes to deter most island mountaineers from catching the views. How many have done so is a matter of debate: there’s no summit register to document the ascents –probably not worth it—and in our research we could only find one trip report, the evidence of at least one other via a rusted aerosol can on the summit, and shared word-of-mouth about one other person to successfully summit.
Distance: 12.5 km
Starting Elevation: 458 m
Maximum Elevation: 1292 m
Total Elevation Gain: 882 m
Total Time: 10 hours
Sitting on the south side of Zeballos Lake rises a seldom-summited peak of the same name. It suffers from the ignominious problem of being a neighbour to the far more glamorous peaks of the Haihte Range; with an elevation of only 1540 metres, it’s a problem that won’t be outgrown by this report.
On March 17, 2019, I joined Phil and Ramsay on a summit attempt of Zeballos Peak. We were in high spirits as we started our hike. The south-facing slopes of the mountain were clear of snow to the end of the road, allowing us the luxury of heading straight into the slash without the additional work of grunting up a steep logging road (450 m).
Total Distance: 6.8 km
Starting Elevation: 450 m
Maximum Elevation: 1380 m
Total Elevation Gain: 941 m
Total Time: 7 Hours
When it comes to ascending seldom-summited peaks, I’m often reticent when we depart the Jeep. So many questions about the route and what we will find ahead make me reflect inward. So, it’s probably no surprise that when winter’s snow and ice become part of the adventure, there is sometimes a certain amount of foot-dragging before we leave. That was indeed the case for our planned New Year’s Day ascent of Mount Sir John; we didn’t even make it to within six kilometres of the peak, calling off the trip before we had even put our boots on.
Distance: 11.0 km
Starting Elevation: 831 m
Maximum Elevation: 1443 m
Total Elevation Gain: 724 m
Total Time: 5 hours, 56 minutes
We started with the goal of practicing essential skills of the winter mountaineer: walking with crampons, and self-arrest. Although the slope conditions in the prior week would have been ideal, a recent dump of snow worked against our plan.
We don’t often get a whole day together for just the two of us. Typically, the entire family goes on our adventures, or at the very least it’s you, Hemingway, and me. In fact, that was the original arrangement, for you both to come with me –and 12 of my closest Ramblers buddies– on our February 3rd summit of Mount Elma. But Hemingway decided to stay home for a swim lesson and his first overnight camping trip away from home, leaving the whole day for just us–our first time!
–submitted by Matthew Lettington, originally published on explorington.com
Mountains are changeable. From a technical perspective, a route may be an easy ascent in the winter season, and a heinous, bush-filled scramble in the summer. Or, of course, it’s possible that winter adds more treachery to a route that’s a simple scramble in the summer. It’s probably because of this duality that first ascents and first winter ascents are documented as different feats.
I’ll count Big Den Mountain among those peaks that become more complicated when the snow melts. In the winter, Big Den Mountain was an aesthetic, though steep, winter ascent with some adventure between beautiful, mature trees. But in the summer, the approach became a complicated bushy route with at least one unexpected scramble.
Total Distance: 7.2 km Starting Elevation: 789 m Maximum Elevation: 1419 m Total Elevation Gain: 724 m Total Time: 4 hours, 43 minutes and 34 seconds
Since beginning my project to summit all the peaks in Island Alpine, I’ve spent more time exploring the various unknown peaks and ranges of Vancouver Island than I ever spent hiking more well-known objectives. Sometimes, when I think about the time I’ve spent hiking, driving, and reporting– it’s become very time-consuming– I wonder, Is it worth it? Why am I doing this? Am I still having fun?
These questions are usually fleeting, but they strike like an avalanche. With more than two dozen trip reports in various forms of drafts, it’s a problem that seems impossible to surmount. Especially considering that these were some of the most important trips I’ve done over the past three years: Nootka Island; West Coast Trail; Augerpoint Traverse; Hesquiat Peninsula; three different seven-day kayak trips; Tatchu Peninsula; my Rambler Peak Trip where we summited Devoe and Slocomb; and a half-dozen family trips. These, and about a dozen other daytrips that I haven’t even started writing, add to the overwhelming workload I’ve created. I just can’t seem to keep on top of it. And if I’m not committed to doing them all, then why even do any of it?
Surprisingly, this lost and overwhelming feeling is one that I’ve grown accustomed to in my life. Although it’s easy to be subsumed by the feeling, there is also a small comfort that comes with it. I imagine it compares to an explorer crossing an ocean to an unknown destination: there’s probably something on the other side, and there’s definitely something behind you. The farther you get from the known shore, the braver you must be. Without landmarks to position oneself, it’s difficult to take stock of progress, and sometimes you just have to trust you’re heading in the right direction.
But taking notice of my accomplishments is the key to navigating through the sea of hopelessness, and that’s why I write these reports. On December 1, I was one of a group of six that summited Big Tree Peak in the Prince of Wales Range. The peak itself is hardly worth noting; it’s not the highest, bushiest, or most challenging, nor does it have the best view of all the peaks in the Range. However, it was the final peak I needed to summit in the range. And for that reason, it’s important to take note: I’m making progress.
Total Distance: 7.2 km
Starting Elevation: 789 m
Maximum Elevation: 1419 m
Total Elevation Gain: 724 m
Total Time: 4 hours, 43 minutes and 34 seconds
Back in early November, before we had even a light frost back home, I joined my core group of mountaineering buddies –with a few notable absences– on a trip to Stevens Peak. We planned to summit the mountain by following the east ridge from a spur of the Canton Creek mainline. Our research promised a straightforward approach, and the forecast predicted a splendid day with clear skies and sunshine. None of this held to be true.
Total Distance: 11.7 km
Starting Elevation: 659 m
Maximum Elevation: 1504 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1339 m
Total Time: 8 hours https://drive.google.com/open?id=1BojbPMRuE9CIEELkAwnOSM-T9uX79ulx&usp=sharing