Island Mountain Ramblers

Hiking/ Climbing / Mountaineering / Exploring Vancouver Island since 1958

Category: mountaineering (Page 1 of 3)

Waring Peak: Striking Back

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, read the full report on his blog

Have you ever struggled to achieve an objective, and been turned back? I have–a lot! Waring Peak in the Sutton Range is among several peaks that we failed to summit last winter. My first attempt came to a premature end, with the group looking longingly at the base of the summit block, merely 200 metres away from the summit of the mountain. This August, we struck back at mountains that had turned us back last winter. This time, after only 2.5 hours of hiking, we were standing on the summit admiring the view, and enjoying the narrow upper ridge of this Vancouver Island peak. It’s satisfying to gain these summits, but it’s remarkable how different the approaches are in the different seasons. Of note, the biggest surprise is the bush!

 

Toal Distance:  9.1 km
Startin Elevation: 541 m
Maximum Elevation: 1599 m
Elevation Gain: 1071 m
Time:  5 h 15 m

 

 

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Jagged Peak: Grovelling in the Gully

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, Read the full report and see more images on his blog.

[insert snappy introduction]

I love mountaineering in the Sutton Range because the peaks offer a sense of exploration I don’t always find in more popular regions. I attribute this feeling to the relative isolation of the peaks: they are a long way from the major population centres of Vancouver Island, and there are no paved roads to the trailheads. Because of this, we rarely see booted routes to guide us on our way. It’s in the Sutton Range that we found our Sunday adventure, on Jagged Peak.

Many of the peaks in the Sutton Range are dramatic, jagged forms that inspire feelings of dread (or excitement) as you look at them. Jagged Peak, aptly named for its long, crumbling gullies, is no exception. Jagged Peak is a less popular destination than other mountains in the Sutton Range, such as Victoria and Warden Peaks. Individually, they might be difficult to identify, but these dramatic, and iconic peaks rise together from the valley and create an easily identifiable Vancouver Island landmark.

 

Total Distance:  11.5 km
Starting Elevation: 605 m
Maximum Elevation: 1700 m
Elevation Gain: 1150 m
Total Time: 6 h 30 m

 

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5040 Peak on a hot summer day!

–submitted by Bill Derby

Seven intrepid Ramblers met at Starbucks in North Nanaimo under a bright blue early morning sky to make introductions, grab a coffee, and sort out vehicles before departing for the 5040 Peak trail head via Port Alberni and Highway 4. 

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Crest Mountain: a Ridge Ramble success story!

–submitted by Ken Warren

Twelve of us set off for Crest Mountain from the trailhead on the Gold River Highway. The forecast was for good weather and the sky was promising. The trail is well-designed and built, but gains 1100 meters in the first 5km. We didn’t hit snow until the 1400m elevation shortly before coming onto the plateau by the first tarn. The tarns are still 3/4 frozen with blue water pooling among the snow and ice. A forty minute hike in the snow from the tarn saw us gain another  100m and the cairn marked summit.

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Mt Rugged: day trip

–submitted by Clarke Gourlay

1Trip went well with 6 of us, arrived to within 80m of summit (Donkey’s Back feature), but needed to belay from there and didn’t have enough time to finish and get back with all 6.  As it was we had a 16 hour day car to car.  Got beyond the bergshrund below the East Ridge by belaying lead climber over an ice bridge to test it.

On the approach down low (near valley bottom), we returned differently than we went up, and it was a mistake.  As the approach trail (really an old decommissioned logging road) becomes VERY DENSE, turn up hill and proceed at 45 degrees to the hill in the same direction on a climb/traverse.  Much easier than slogging through brush in the valley.  All this could change as more logging is imminent.

Possible to do in a very long day, but we did not complete.

Meares Island : Lone Cone & Big Tree Trail

Read the full report on Matthewès blog

To early European explorers, the western edge of North America must have been an overwhelming place to visit. We humans navigate by landmarks, known places with names; explorers applied names to many places, making them easier to identify on maps. At some point, it must have been really overwhelming to provide names to so many different places, or perhaps they lacked the creativity to do so; thus, we ended up with names like Elkhorn South Mountain. The name itself isn’t an issue, except that Elkhorn South is immediately south of the much grander Elkhorn Mountain, and shouldn’t be confused with the south peak of Elkhorn Mountain, which is completely different. Even the name Vancouver Island has caused issues for travelers who mistake the location of either the island, or the city of Vancouver. But this post isn’t about Vancouver Island’s haphazard naming structures – it’s about Meares Island.

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Mount Spencer: Revenge on the Mountain

–Submitted by Matthew Lettington: read the full report on his blog

Back in early November, I led a group of Island Mountain Ramblers on a memorable snowshoe trip to summit Mount Spencer. It was the most challenging snowshoe trip of the season: a gruelling 12-hour slog, hiking over 21 kilometres through the worst type of snow, and we were benighted on our way back to the vehicles. It was a grind, to say the least. But, the biggest sting of the trip? We didn’t even summit! We were only a few hundred metres from the summit, though at the time, it looked like we were another hour away. When I returned from that trip, the first thing I did was reschedule the hike. This is the trip report for that second attempt: the revenge on Mount Spencer.

Mount Spencer GPS track & map

Mount Spencer GPS track & mapTotal Distance: 10.8 km
Starting Elevation: 822 m
Maximum Elevation: 1460 m
Total Elevation Gain: 907 m
Total Time: 6h 30 m

 

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Mount Abel: A Great Spring Snowshoe in the Sutton Range

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, Read the full report on his blog

The Sutton Range holds a good number of peaks that I’ve included my Island Alpine Quest, including our goal for the day: Mount Abel. The names of the peaks and valleys follow a pattern – Mount Cain, Mount Abel, Mount Adam, Adam River, Eve River, and so on – that have some people referring to that portion of the range as the Genesis Range. Mount Abel, like most mountains, has both an easy or a difficult approach. The west aspect is a dramatic rock wall, but from the southeast there is a good variety of easy mountaineering options.

We parked a short distance down a logging spur, just off Adam Road (~850 m). Only the week prior, the snow was piled at least forty-five centimetres high on the place we were now parked. That’s a lot of snow melt in seven days! Seeing how fast the snow is melting brought a smile to my face, as it’s a sure sign of summer ahead. At the same time, I groaned a little, knowing that we would be trekking through some sloppy conditions.

 

 

Total Distance: 9.9 km
Starting Elevation: 886 m
Maximum Elevation: 1819m
Total Elevation Gain: 943 m
Total Time: 6 hours

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A winter route up Big Den turns unseasonably warm

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, read it on his blog

This year, winter on the West Coast has been full of surprises, though this may only have been noticed by those who venture outdoors. Winter keeps serving up a huge variety of weather! We’ve seen temperatures at sea level that dip below negative ten for so long that lakes in Nanaimo have frozen hard enough to walk on, snow piled up on the roadside and yards for more than a month, blizzards in the mountains, and now, temperatures in the high alpine that are reaching into the low teens. On our February 13th adventure up Big Den Mountain, the unseasonably warm conditions forced us to turn back.

Total Distance: 8.7 km
Starting Elevation: 109 m
Maximum Elevation: 1470 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1377 m
Total Time: 7h 15 m

 

 

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Mt Cain — The Long Way Around

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, Read the report on his blog

Being focused on an objective is a great way to track progress and remember to celebrate when you achieve a goal. But sometimes, I get so focused on the objective that I forget about everything that goes into making the day a success. On January 22nd, I had a good reminder that getting to the destination can be half the fun.

I’m usually the driver for our adventures. Behind the wheel, I’m focused on the moment: making sure I don’t fall asleep, leave us sideways on a patch of ice, or take the wrong road. I try to take in as much as I can, but I often let the landscape slide past me without paying it much mind. On January 22nd, I was a passenger — Oh, the sweet passenger life! I scrunched myself into the backseat, propped my head against the window, and watched the landscape roll by. I took it all in – well, at least the right side of the highway. We were on our way to … well, I don’t even remember where. I recall that our destination was past Gold River — a long drive, for sure! But where we were headed isn’t important, because we didn’t get there. In fact, we rerouted several times and ended up far from our original destination.

Mt Cain Snowshoe in the Dream Chute

Mt Cain parking area, Genesis Range

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