Island Mountain Ramblers

Hiking/ Climbing / Mountaineering / Exploring Vancouver Island since 1958

Tag: Matthew Lettington (Page 1 of 6)

Late Summer Rappel Workshop

–submitted by Matthew Lettington
–photographs by Shayna Bussey

The group of five met in Pipers Lagoon at 6 PM. We had warm breezes and the surrounding cloud provided an excellent backdrop for the evening’s workshop, and ideal conditions for the workshop.

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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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Wild Side Trail with a Three Year Old

–submitted by Mathew Lettington; Read the full report on his blog

Dear Hemingway,

We did it! We survived our first father-and-son backpacking adventure. I’m happily writing the trip down as a success! We picked the perfect location, Flores Island’s Wild Side Trail, and lucked into a spate of great weather. Of course, our adventure companions helped us enjoy the trip all the more. We were just two members of an eighteen-person trip that I was co-leading. Trips of this size are often complicated, and the Wild Side Trail is fraught with additional issues. This trip proved no different. Aside from the normal challenges with the water-taxi, some of our hikers had contacted me the night before because they were stranded with a broken axle.

As I expected, you fell asleep on the drive to Tofino on the day before the trip, which made you grouchy and unwilling to go to bed that night. What’s a dad to do? We made the best of it by wandering the mean streets of Tofino, even though it was well past your normal bedtime. I treated the trip with the care that it deserved: we ate pizza-by-the-slice, I bought you a toy car at the Co-op, and when we returned to the hostel (the Doctor’s House, as you called it), we watched the sunset from the big window in our room. It was ten o’clock by the time you were asleep, after we read all the way through the Five-Minute Star Wars Stories book–twice!

 

Total Distance: 15 km
Total Time: 3 days

 

 

 

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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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Workshop: learn to Rappel

–submitted by Matthew Lettington
–photographs by Shanon Tagesth

Four Island Mountain Ramblers met in the parking lot at Pipers Lagoon. Although the early week was raining, Thursday brought an unexpected dry spell, complete with sunshine!

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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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Our first failure at winter camping

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

Dear Hemingway,

We just finished our first father-and-son camping trip, or at least our first attempt. You’re only three and a half years old, and we’ve already done a lot of overnight backcountry trips, but never one in snow, and never just the two of us. I was excited, and so were you. It was an ambitious undertaking: I would be on skis, pulling you in the sled. Our goal was to head out from Raven Lodge, and camp between Battleship Lake and Kwai Lake. Beyond that, I was willing to be flexible, because above all else I wanted you to have a great time.

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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 Elma: Beginner Skitour

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

On February 19th, we met at Ski Tak Hut in Courtenay to gather the final pieces of backcountry ski gear needed for our day on the mountain. Lisa and I watched the sky, hoping that the hard rain would let up – or at least, that it was snowing on the mountain. Our original plan was to ski Mount Becher, but the rain forced us to reconsider our options; we decided to take our chances with Mount Elma instead.

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