After watching the mountain forecast for Arrowsmith all week, we decided to move our trip up the Unjudges route to Sunday and take advantage of the partial sunshine forecast – haha. 5 of us met at Whiskey Creek and picked up a sixth at the Alberni summit hump. We dropped a car at the judges route and took 2 cars to the unjudges trailhead.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve summited Mt. Arrowsmith for the annual New Year’s Day expedition, but it must be at least 10. The first year I participated was in 2001, and I climbed it in my backcountry touring skiboots. They provided great support, but were heavy and of course cumbersome. But there was a lot of snow that year, right from the parking lot off Pass Main, and they were great for kicking steps.
Before leading this year’s climb I was apprenhensive:
after a 6-week trip to Mexico I wasn’t in the best of shape. Could I handle it?
of the 7 others in our group, I didn’t know 3. Would they all be okay?
there have been three accidents in recent years on this climb, and I fretted about the conditions. Would it be icy and treacherous?
Thankfully, though, my fears were unfounded. Everyone did just fine, and it was probably the easiest winter climb I’ve had up Arrowsmith with good snow conditions, for the most part.
The trail was bare of snow until we’d hiked up for about 1/2 hour.
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.
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.
–report by Wayne Mills
— photographs by John Young
Mount Arrowsmith (Judge’s-Route) was stunning, on January 1st. The largest mountain on southern Vancouver Island, definitely one for the more experienced hikers. It took us 6.5hrs at a steady pace, from dusk till dawn, steep and slippery, heart rate raiser and old injury breaker (knees/lower back). Snowshoes are not required. Crampons, poles, and axe are definitely required.
4 of us set out Friday afternoon on our quest to watch the meteors from the summit of Mt. Arrowsmith. 2 other fellow ramblers were also planning to rally at the top with via the West Ridge. We chose the Judges Route.
After leaving a little later than expected, we decided to stop on the mountainside, about 3/4 of the way up on a good rock ledge. That became our camp for the night. I was able to connect with Clarke and co, who were coming up the other side, and they too decided not to summit as well. But all in all we got to see lots of meteors, a beautiful sunset and had a blast doing it!
We were back down by 830am for breakfast. It was a fun trip and look forward to next years shower!