Steamboat Mountain via the Zipline

–submitted by Matthew Lettington; orginally published on

Steamboat Mountain rises prominently on the north side of Highway Four; you may have spotted the prow, a feature on the east end of the summit ridge, on a drive to Tofino. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like up there, it’s incredible! It’s also a problem that took me a few years to work out.

The Limestone Twins, northwest of the Steamboat’s summit.

The mountain screams for good weather approaches. This route, like many of the others off Highway Four, creeps through some of the densest biomass on earth. Buried in dark forest, the route is slimy when wet, and any semblance of a booted route can be obscured by low-hanging, water-laden branches. And here is where I hang my many failed, foolhardy summit bids: winter trips done in search of routes accessible off the highway, as the backroads were covered in snow. Of course, these early spring and late fall months are also the wettest, and short on daylight hours. In short, failed trips done in foul weather.

Total Distance: 15.4 km
Starting Elevation: 51 m
Maximum Elevation: 1469 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1538 m
Total Time: 13 hours, 10 minutes

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Hidden Peak: When the Weather Doesn’t Cooperate

–submitted by Matthew Lettington; orginally published on

I’m not a fair-weather hiker; in fact, I’m pretty stubborn. There are countless times when we’ve hiked despite a crappy forecast. Often, the poor weather never manifests, and instead we get something better; but more often, it’s worse. About the only time the weather stops us is when we are sitting high and dry in the vehicle at a trail head while a storm rages on outside. Then there are those unique hikes, the ones done on sunny days after an overnight downpour, when you end up with soaking clothing in hot weather. You chafe, your boots get waterlogged, and you feel wet, yet hot and uncomfortable at the same time.

lots of this type of fog as we hiked the benches toward the summit block

Our trip to Hidden Peak (July 11th) was an example of uncooperative weather – that which changes for the worse when you need it most. Although we started our journey with the promise of good weather, it became much worse before we got to the good stuff.

Our route to Hidden Peak

Total Distance: 14.6 km
Starting Elevation: 276 m
Maximum Elevation: 1455 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1492 m
Total Time: 14 hours

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Mount Olsen

–submitted by Matthew Lettington; originally published on

While some mountains are heinous bushwhacks, and others require long logging road approaches, Mount Olsen is none of these. All along the Corrigan Main the land is laid waste by heavy logging, and the myriad of logging roads crisscross the slope creating a maze of roads that push high up the side of the mountain. Although we came ready for a long slog along snow-covered roads, we discovered the roads clear; a benefit of an early spring heatwave.

one short butt slide

Mount Olsen Route

Total Distance: 5.9 km
Starting Elevation: 816 m
Maximum Elevation: 1293 m
Total Elevation Gain: 544 m
Total descent: 557 m
Total Time: 4 hours, 44 minutes
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Mount Maitland: A Hike for People Who Don’t Want to Be Clean

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, originally posted on

Wet. It was wet. It was very wet. This doesn’t even come close to describing how wet we were by the end of the day. It was the kind of day where any effort or equipment used to contravene the water would result in failure; so, we left our raingear in our backpacks with our dry clothes in case we needed them to get warm—a smart decision. It was the kind of day where I saw water well out of the cuff of Clarke’s boot when he stepped down onto a rock, and oozing out of the tongue of Phil’s boot when he flexed his toes.

hiking to Mount Maitland
these are the faces of fatigue


Total Distance: 9 km
Starting Elevation: 225 m
Maximum Elevation: 1258 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1140 m
Total Time: 9 h 15 m

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5040 Peak

~ submitted by Bil Derby

August 19, 2018

Seems to be a trend but 06:00 hrs on 19 August found five hikers loitering about the north Nanaimo Starbucks……mostly because they are the only place open at that time of day that is not Tim Hortons.  A quick stop in Whiskey Creek to gather the other three people and onward we went, arriving at the trail head right about 08:20. The smoke haze was, at this point in the day, still relatively high and thin.

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Nine Peaks, The Jewel of Strathcona Park

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, originally published on

On June 23rd & 24th 2018, I was one of five Island Mountain Ramblers who summitted Nine Peaks, located on the southern boundary of Strathcona Park. It earns its name from the nine distinct peaks that rise out of the Beauty Glacier, forming a line that runs along a northwest axis. Our trip was planned as an annual birthday getaway – one of Rick and Phil’s long-standing traditions – and was a reprisal of a failed daytrip to Nine Peaks, on the same weekend in 2017. Having been beaten back on the first attempt, we came with the intention of completing the trip as an overnighter.

two mountaineers on the summit of this iconic Strathcona Park peaka
Mel and Phil on the summit of Nine Peaks — all smiles after a hard day.

Our route originated at the Bedwell Lake trailhead, and by the time we were back at the car we had covered 38 kilometres and more than 3500 metres of elevation gain. The trip involves route-finding challenges that change with the season, terrain difficulties that may require scrambling, and the need for self-arrest skills. On top of the physicality of the route, it’s also mentally challenging. There are many sections where you gain elevation, lose it, and then regain it. It includes either two summits of Big Interior Mountain, an airy traverse from the saddle or, at least, an airy traverse around the base of the summit massif.

GPS Route & Map (by request)

Total Distance: 34 km
Starting Elevation: 515 m
Maximum Elevation: 1849 m
Elevation Gain: 3068 m

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Moriarty…no wait, Arrowsmith

~ submitted by Bil Derby

June 2, 2018

Following a recce of the access roads to the Moriarty trail-head and a lot of discussion back and forth about the likelihood of gaining access to the Moriarty trail-head it was decided to switch locations and hike the Judges route on Arrowsmith.

Seven intrepid hikers met at Starbucks at 0630 to carpool and fuel up on caffeine before heading off to the mountains.  Arriving on schedule at the Judges trail-head at 0800 we quickly geared up and wandered off up the mountain in what appeared to be improving weather……….more on that later.

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Lost Gully – Mount Arrowsmith

~submitted by Chris Istace –The Mindful Explorer-

May 12, 2018

A beautiful May weekend for a climb up Mt Arrowsmith and the timing for the Ramblers club day trip couldn’t have been better. We all met at 8am at Creekmore Coffee just off the Alberni Highway and carpooled for the trip up the mountain. The 6 of us split between the two vehicles and headed on our way. The first destination was the end of the spur road for Judges route which would be where we dropped a vehicle for the descent route. We all hopped into one truck and then headed back down to the lower spur on pass main to the end of that road where the Lost Gully trailhead is.

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Wesley Ridge

~ submitted by Adrian Houle

March 30, 2018

A successful hike up Wesley Ridge with a group of Island Mountain Ramblers on Friday, March 30 2018.