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 & mapTotal Distance: 10.8 km
Starting Elevation: 822 m
Maximum Elevation: 1460 m
Total Elevation Gain: 907 m
Total Time: 6h 30 m
–trip report submitted by Ken Warren
–Photos submitted by Kerry Hart
Although the weather forecast was not encouraging, we had a dry day on the Alberni Inlet Trail. Our start time was delayed by bridge inspections on the China Creek Road, but we set out from Ship Creek around 11 o’clock. The first stretch is impressive old growth fir and cedar opening up into views of the valley with Arrowsmith Massif obscured by clouds. Frogs to the left and right cheered us along the trail.
Mount Grey is a lovely hike through old-growth alpine fir and along a treed alpine ridge, up to a summit that offers great views of the Alberni Inlet. My Mount Grey trip had two portions of adventure: the cold from an arctic outflow, and the ride home.
On January 8th, I joined a group of six Island Mountain Ramblers on a trip up Mount Grey. Our original trip plan was Mount Adam, but we were concerned about avalanche and difficulty ascending the two incredibly steep slopes on the route. Our failed trip up Mount Derby and Mount Peel had given us first-hand knowledge of the region’s conditions, and currently, the avalanche conditions were rated considerable. It was a smart choice to change our plans, and I was happy to be attempt Mount Grey. We had high hopes that the conditions would be stable, due to lower elevation and proximity to the Alberni Inlet.
I’ll cut to the chase– we didn’t make the summit of Mount Spencer. Of course, as with most of my stories, the devil’s in the details.
On December 18th, Vancouver Island was deep in a colder-than-normal shoulder season. The day held a forecast for overcast skies and precipitation. Further, the Mount Spencer trip was scheduled on a day with only 8 hours of daylight, almost the shortest day of the year.
The cold month had brought snow low down on the mountains, and covered the logging roads in snow. From a hiking perspective, with our approach routes covered in snow, we wouldn’t be able to drive very far — meaning that our Mount Spencer hike was double the normal distance.
Total Distance: 20.6 km
Starting Elevation: 388 m
Maximum Elevation: 1430 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1414 m
Total Time: 11 h
Ladies hike! We had a lovely time. When we reached our camp spot at Cobalt lake, there was a mist over the mountains. However, when we woke in the morning to hike we had lovely views as the clouds moved amongst the mountains. Amazing views of Triple Peak! There was a bit of snow to traverse, a bit of scrambling to make it fun and challenging. Overall, a lovely hike!
5040 Vancouver Island and Island Mountain Ramblers