Island Mountain Ramblers

Hiking/ Climbing / Mountaineering / Exploring Vancouver Island since 1958

Tag: Matthew Lettington (Page 2 of 8)

Big Baldy Mountain — A Long March Into Spring

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, read the report and see more images on explorington.com

Most people mark the passage of time by annual events in their lives like birthdays, holidays, the New Year, and so on. Since I’ve started my Island Alpine Quest, I’ve started marking the march into Spring by how early I leave home on Sunday morning. During the winter, my departure from home is timed so that we arrive at the trailhead when the sun is rising, allowing us to maximize the daylight hours for hiking. As Spring emerges, the long winter nights erode, and the days get longer, we start to plan longer, more challenging routes. This means that in order to reach the trailhead at dawn, we find ourselves leaving home earlier and earlier; by mid-April, it’s not uncommon for us to leave Nanaimo at 4:00 am and do most of our driving in the dark. This was certainly the case for my March 22, 2018 trip to Big Baldy Mountain.

Climbing out of the gully; looking back on the logging road approach

Climbing out of the gully; looking back on the logging road approach

Big Baldy Mountain is a broad, treeless summit west of Gold River. In fact, from the summit, you can clearly see this shrinking west coast town. It’s not the most challenging or aesthetic mountain on the island, and it doesn’t offer amazing views, so it’s no surprise that most mountaineers won’t make it here. Instead, they are lured in by the more dramatic peaks of Strathcona Park; you have to drive many of them on your way to Gold River. It’s also overlooked as a destination because while the ridge is easy to access, getting to the summit takes some route-finding skills that will challenge those more interested in an easy trail walk.

Even for those that will add Big Baldy Mountain to their list of destinations, snowshoeing to the summit like we did will be an even less popular choice. But for anyone who does, they will revel in the forested west ridge, snow-covered mountaintop, peekaboo views of the west coast, and one of the finest butt-sliding opportunities on the island.

Distance: 19 km
Starting Elevation: 500m
Maximum Elevation: 1450 m
Elevation Gain: 1750 m
Time: 9 h

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Strata Mountain: Don’t Bother

–originally published by Matthew Lettington his blog: explorington.com

Getting up at 3:00 am isn’t my favourite way to spend a Sunday, but I do it week after week. I head outside, driven by my Island Alpine Quest, the goal of summiting more than 250 peaks. In doing so, I find myself hiking in some seldom-visited locations on Vancouver Island. Why do I do it? I’m the type of person who needs a goal to stay interested. There are factors that help smooth the rough early morning starts, like those fleeting moments of looking through old-growth forest or picking my way along a craggy ridge. But occasionally, the quest takes me to a place that I’ll never return – one worth skipping. Strata Mountain is in this category.

It’s not that the mountain is out of the way; after all, it’s in the heart of one of the most popular regions of Strathcona Park. And it’s not that it doesn’t have anything to offer; the high ridge tops out over 1400 metres, with an easy walking alpine ridge that has great views of many nearby peaks, including Mount Albert-Edward and Mount Adrian. But because the area is overused, and because there are many other nearby peaks that offer a more dramatic and aesthetic ascent, it’s just not worth the effort – except maybe as a side trip.

Nevertheless, it’s on the list, and Strata Mountain demanded my attention. On March 4th, 2018, I led a group of six Island Mountain Ramblers on a winter trip to the summit of Strata Mountain. It was a near-perfect day for the long trip across Forbidden Plateau, with clear skies that persisted through the morning, and a well-packed boot track that allowed for a quicker-than-normal pace.


Total Distance: 21 km
Starting Elevation: 1065 m
Maximum Elevation: 1445 m
Total Elevation Gain: 775 m
Total Time: 9 hours

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Mount Brenton: Another One from the Book

–submitted by Matthew Lettington, originally published on his blog

I imagine you might be asking yourself, Why the benign title? If you’re a regular reader, you’re familiar with my Island Alpine Quest: to summit all of the peaks listed in Philip Stone’s book Island Alpine (1999). The goal is lofty, and many of the peaks will require multiday adventures through some of the least-frequented areas on Vancouver Island (I’m looking at you, Mount Doom). But the sad reality is that not every peak is a stunning romp through the backcountry – my trip up Mount Brenton certainly wasn’t!

February 4th, 2018
Total Distance: 10.5 km
Starting Elevation: 707 m
Maximum Elevation: 1216 m
Total Elevation Gain: 508 m
Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes


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A family snowshoe loop: Featuring another family!

–submitted by Matthew Lettington —read the report and see more photos on his blog

As parents, my wife Kim and I fall into all-too-familiar parent-child relationships with Hemingway and Octavia. My behaviour exemplifies the old platitude: When you love your kids, you want the best for them. You’ll go out of your way to make sure their lives are better than how you perceived your own to be. I take my children on backcountry adventures to give them formative experiences at a young age, experiences I don’t remember having when I was their age. Of course, believing that these adventures are making their lives better is a romantic notion; I wonder if Hemingway feels the same way.

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What’s your number?

Over the past month, I’ve had conversations, and exchanged emails, with many club members about the rating system we use to classify the trips on the club’s schedule. That’s the number you see beside the trip name on the schedule, and in the level of difficulty in the trip details (e.g. B1p2, C3p3). Many members are only looking at the first number, and using that to rate the trip, but this is a mistake.

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Boston Falls –Trip Cancelled!

–submitted by Matthew Lettington

It was late on Sunday morning that I made the call to cancel a long-planned trip to the Boston Falls lookout. I woke in the morning to find emails from participants that reported cancellations, people who wouldn’t drive through snow, and reports of 3″ of snow on the ground in Courtenay and Cambell River.

I thought carefully and weighed my options. In the end, the decision not to go examined carefully the reasons to continue. I feared that my only reason to continue the trip would be to fulfil my own sense of accomplishment and stroke my ego, but the risk would be the safety of the others involved.

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A leg stretcher: Copley Ridge

— submitted by Matthew Lettington

We had high hopes for the day, but not all plans come to fruition. Canoe Peak was a lofty goal for any day, but we were adding to the challenge by attempting a winter ascent. On our way through Sutton Pass (230 m) snow was falling fast and accumulating so fast that vehicle tracks were being obscured within minutes and within 15 minutes there was an inch of fresh snow on the road.

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Hemingway’s first summit: Mount Elma

–all photographs and video courtesy Michael Paskevicious

Read the full report and see more photographs on Explorington.com

 

Dear Hemingway,

You’re four-and-a-half years old now–time sure flies. I made only two resolutions for 2018, and the first and most important one was to get my whole family out on a mountain adventure (Paradise Meadows doesn’t count). You’ve been my adventure companion on many trips, but it wasn’t until our January 6th trip that we summited our first mountain together: Mount Elma. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort to see your smile when we crested the hill and walked out onto Mount Elma’s summit plateau.

topo map for Mount Elma

Mount Elma Map and GPS route

 

Total Distance: 12 km
Starting Elevation: 166m
Maximum Elevation: 1418 m
Total Elevation Gain: 446 m
Total Time: 5h 30m


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Octavia’s first snowshoe trip

–Photographs by Mike Hincks and Kim Leong

— view more pictures on explorington.com

Dear Octavia,

You’re a natural outdoorswoman! It was back on December 16th, 2017 that we finally got you out on your first snowshoe trip. I hosted a family/beginner snowshoe trip with the Island Mountain Ramblers as a way to get the whole family outdoors together. You were already 14 months old at the time — a whole year older than your brother’s first time! I’m sorry we waited so long to get you into a backpack and out in the snow! We tried to make it happen last winter, but between your age and the weather, we just couldn’t find a day that worked.

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Snowshoeing Mount Elliot: Fun in the Sun

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

It’s official, I’ve lost all my summer fitness! It was a long slow decline to the state I’m in now, a fact that was made painfully apparent on my snowshoe trip up Mount Elliot. But, I’m looking forward to a winter full of snowshoeing, skiing and family fun in the snow. And who knows, maybe I’ll kick myself back into shape again!

If you’re looking for a great snowshoe mountaineering trip, Mount Elliot may be the trip for you. Aside from one or two short, steep sections at the top, it’s a lovely route up the side of the southwest side of the mountain. The reward is the summit. On a clear day, the lucky mountaineer is rewarded with spectacular views of the Bonanza Range and the Johnstone Strait. It took me two attempts to reach the summit, but it was worth it!

 

Total Distance: 8.3 km
Starting Elevation: 785 m
Maximum Elevation: 1549 m
Total Elevation Gain: 817 m
Total Time: 6 hours

 


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