Climbing Triple Peak: A Little Peak with a Big Mountain Feel

When I think back on my numerous mountaineering adventures, Triple Peak stands out as a favourite among them. The approach is as beautiful as the alpine; it ascends beside a waterfall, and up to the large lake that sits in the bowl below the ridge. The lake alone is worth the trip, and many people make the hike simply to lie on the rocks and bathe in the water; however, it’s what’s beyond the lake that interests me. I seek opportunities to scramble over good quality rock, strap on some crampons, and ascend steep snow slopes on my way to Triple Peak’s aesthetic summit block. From there, different routes offer chances to place protection and climb to the summit.

Continue reading “Climbing Triple Peak: A Little Peak with a Big Mountain Feel”

Mount De Cosmos & Wine Tasting

A short, stiff hike up from Second Lake on the Nanaimo Lakes circuit. We leftHarewood Mall at 0700 and arrived at the base of the logging road 1150 metres below the summit. Stop about 400 metres before the main 2nd Lake Gate which is the gate just after the lake cottages. There is a small road to the right climbing up with an old,low gate which may be locked. It does not matter. We parked on the main logging road.From here it was a quick walk up from the lake to the end of the road at about 480metres.

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High Rigger : More Than Just Light Bush

–submitted by Phil Jackson

We started off at 5:30 AM from Nanaimo. Drove up Stowe Creek main and parked part way along. We were off from the vehicle at 8:30AM and into bushwhacking almost immediately. After a quick crossing of Stowe Creek we followed an Alder choked road till we decide we’d take our chances with the forest and take the direct line up. With a minor amount of rock scrambling and some B4 bush we were up yo the snow in no time. After a short break to take in the view we headed up the lower ridge to the lower snow bowl. After climbing a snow chute we headed along the upper ridge to the upper bowl and the summit from there. We arrived at the summit at 1:30 and sat around for half an hour soaking in the spectacular view before heading back for the jeep.

A  handsom looking group of Island Mountain Ramblers!

Kokummi Mountain

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

April is a month of unpredictable weather. Before we head out on a hike, we are seldom concerned about the forecast; let’s face it, it’s usually wrong. On Sunday, April 24th, we planned to hike Steamboat Mountain, in the Maitland Range. We were going to use a route notorious for its bushwhack. With rain in the forecast, we made an exception to the rule and changed our plan–wet conditions and bushwhacking are a recipe for disaster. Pushing through trees branches, getting soaked and freezing, isn’t exactly my idea of great fun! Instead, we headed north, looking for respite from the forecasted rain.


Mount Kokummi in the Sutton Range
Kokummi’s Long east ridge, shot on our way down
As predicted, the weather was erratic. We had it all: we hiked over logging slash and through dense bush in light rain and snow, through deep-snow-covered old growth in misty windy conditions, and finally along the gorgeous, rolling, snow-covered ridge to eventually be bathed in sun. The day was fruitful and the images created lasting impressions.

Over the past year, I’ve hiked some obscure mountains on Vancouver Island, in some hard-to-reach places, and even some previously unexplored regions. I’ve only just started exploring the Sutton Range, but so far I’m blown away by the views! This range of peaks is found on the northern half of Vancouver Island and accessed via a series of logging roads near Sayward. The drive may be long, but the views are well worth it.
Kokummi Mountain, Sutton Range, Vancouver Island Map and GPS Route
Kokummi Mountain Map and GPS Route
Total Distance: 14.6
Starting Elevation: 525 m 
Maximum Elevation: 1624 m 
Elvation Gain: 1213 m
Total Time: 6 hours
We piled into Rick’s city car and drove the long road to Sayward, finally turning onto the all-too-familiar logging road that leads into the valleys between many of the peaks in the range. As we drove, we could see the monsters, peeking through the clouds above. They whispered a warning, but we didn’t listen. We had our minds set on a goal: Kokummi Mountain.
Rick’s car did well on the road, which is mostly in good condition. As the route climbed, the car struggled for purchase in the loose gravel. We parked below a steep section (~550m) on the MC12 spur, off the Gerald Creek Mainline. Bringing the city car saved us money on fuel, but we now had nearly five kilometres of logging road remaining to walk before starting our hike. I really wished we had brought my Jeep!
Mount Kokummi in the Sutton Range
Warden and Victoria
The road is open and easy to walk; any all-wheel-drive vehicle would make it. The road twists as it climbs the mountain, gaining altitude quickly. We worked up a sweat early on, and soon the sky brightened and the air warmed, making our temperatures rise. This road must be an elk superhighway; there were literally hundreds of sections of scat piles on the length of the road. As we walked, we looked to Victoria and Warden and could see cloud quickly blowing over the peaks. It made these prominent peaks look even more impressive!
clouds in the low valley
We carried our snowshoes on our backs, but even now, at 1000m, the snow was just starting. The conditions were consolidated, and carried our weight well. We dumped our snowshoes, as we were now confident we wouldn’t need them.
We selected a line that looked clear, as there was no obvious trail. After crossing a ditch, we headed up the steep slope to the saddle, visible 80 metres above. Though the exposed ground was steep, it was easy to navigate between the sparsely planted spruce, hemlock, and cedar; in my opinion, it hardly even earned a B2 rating. The biggest challenges were the small shrubs that tugged at us as we passed, and the loose gravel that slipped away beneath our feet on the 40-degree slope. We quickly gained the snow-covered saddle, and caught our first view of the valley on the opposing side. It looked inviting, but it was nothing compared to what came later.
up through the old growth
We gingerly picked our way the short distance to the old growth. The snow was shallow, and as we walked overtop of fallen logs, we were careful not to break through the shallow crust into the pit traps beneath. More than once we broke through, and expletives were uttered. Into the old growth, and up we climbed. The route was steep once again, but the snow was in perfect condition for kicking steps, making it easy to gain the open upper ridge.
Emerging onto the open ridge (~1300m) was rewarding – we could almost see our goal! A thick fog blew across the ridge, but we could make out the shadow of the peak we sought, less than two kilometres down the wandering ridge in the distance. As we trundled west over the ridge, we had clear glimpses of the mountain ahead. At times it was clearly visible in the sun that blasted through clear blue patches in the sky, other times it was nearly encased in dense fog that made it impossible to see.
Sutton Range Vancouver Island
Across the valley
Mount Kokummi in the Sutton Range
Kokummi Peaks through the clouds

Phil and I walked close to the edge of the snow-covered ridge and nearly jumped back! We accessed the ridge via a steep slope, but on the other side it is a sheer drop-off. As we stood at the edge, we had a view to the valley, 400 metres below us. It was clear of snow, and the sun bathed the creek and surrounding area in light, creating a stark contrast from the winter wonderland we walked.

Mount Kokummi in the Sutton Range, Vancouver Island
Up into the clouds, Mount Kokummi east aspect
Our biggest obstacle was the final approach to the summit. The steep snow on the northeast face looked daunting: a slip would spit you off the side of the mountain. We played it safe and kept to the left, travelling over some light rock and snow to gain the summit above. Though it looked formidable, in the end, it was easy.
We were at the summit in good time. We gained the final 100 metres in fog, but as we reached the summit, the stiff breeze blew most of it away. We had a good view of the long ridge were walking, in both directions. The wind sculpted sharp edges on the crests of the snow-capped ridge, and the sun created a stark contrast that emphasized the sharp nature of the snow. To the south, we had a great view of Victoria and Warden Peaks. Even in the distance, across the wide valley, they towered above us. They would be an adventure for another time, an adventure much more challenging than today’s pleasant ridge walk.
Mount Kokummi in the Sutton Range, Vancouver Island
Me and Rick on the summit of Kokummi Mountain
With the awesome snow conditions, the return trip was fast. What took us a few hours to ascend took us just thirty minutes to return. As we descended, the weather was up to its old tricks: midway down the ridge we looked back, and the cloud was gone, leaving Kokummi Mountain doused in sunlight. This earned nothing but a few grunts from our group.
Mount Kokummi in the Sutton Range, Vancouver Island
descending back to the car

If you are looking for an out there mountain that offers exciting ridge walking and excellent views, but are not comfortable with exposure, this mountain may be for you. Although we needed to use our hands on occasion to fight the light bush up the short distance to the saddle (even this was easy), the route is fantastic.

The biggest challenge for our day was the logging road. Today was one of those days: six hours of driving, ten kilometres of logging road, five kilometres of ridge walking. If I sound bitter, I’m not – this trip was worth it!

Alexandra Peak: The Last Snowshoe of the Season

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

In search of what is sure to be our final snowshoe trip of the season, I set out on a mission with three other Island Mountain Ramblers. We braved a long logging road approach up Buttle Bluffs Mainline to reach camp for our summit of Alexandra Peak the next day. Alexandra sits outside the official Strathcona Park boundary; it’s in the range of peaks to the northeast of the commonly-hiked Mount Albert-Edward, across the Oyster River. Phil and I had attempted this peak earlier in the season, but the trip was ill-fated: the weather turned on us, the snow condition was terrible, and we turned back before even reaching the end of the Buttle Bluffs Mainline. We approached this second attempt with stern resolve – we would not be turned back.

The open cirque below the Alexandra ridge
The  cirque below the Alexandra Ridge
The Buttle Bluffs Mainline, eight kilometres of logging road off Highway 28 that gains ~1000 metres as it switchbacks its way up the mountainside, is the most common way to access Mount Adrian and Mount Alexandra. The road is gated, but those who drive 4x4s can bypass the gate on the right. The road is infamous for its narrow track: while driving it, you squeeze your vehicle between the edge of the road and extreme drop-offs. .

Read the full report on his blog

Winter’s Confusing Message: Ascent of Mount Russell

-submitted by Matthew Lettinton, read the full report on his blog

Winter sent a confusing message in early March. There was obvious evidence of winter’s demise, and I even wrote a few posts saying so. But then winter made a roaring comeback, with some ski hills receiving as much as 200cm of snow. Although this is great news for spring skiing, it makes planning adventures a bit more challenging.

On Sunday, March 6, we intended to adventure in the Bonanza Range, with a goal of summiting Mount Ashwood. With the recent snow and poor layer adhesion earlier in the year, the avalanche risk was set to extreme. After assessing the risk, and our beta for the trip, we changed our plan and picked another mountain: Mount Russell. It’s located north of Campbell River, but not as far as Woss. Another long day in the car was inevitable, but the juice was definitely worth the squeeze, as Phil would say.
In many of my trip reports, I write about getting into situations that require a rope for descending, walking along exposed ridges, or setting protection in the rock in order to reach a summit. In comparison, Mount Russell is an uncomplicated route, ending with some fantastic ridgewalking. For folks looking to get into the high alpine without the exposure that many other peaks on Vancouver Island entail, this is a series of bumps to check out.

Hiking and Snowshoeing Mount Russell on Vancouver Island
Mount Russell GPS route and Map

Distance:  10 km

Starting Elevation: 815 m
Maximum Elevation: 1749 m
Elevation Gain: 949 m

Crest Mountain on a less than perfect day

–Submitted by Matthew Lettington
Read the full report on his blog…

An important part of planning any trip is having a Plan B, and sometimes a Plan C. There are a lot of factors that go into developing backup plans, but for me, one of the most important factors is geography: Plan B should be close to Plan A. On Sunday February 28th, we were scheduled to make a summit attempt on Horseshoe Mountain. After a long haul from Nanaimo toward Gold River, down Highway 28 and then an additional 20 kilometres of logging road, we were turned back by a pile of snow more than six feet high that blocked the logging road leading to the Horseshoe Mountain Trailhead. We wasted no time in making the decision to switch to our alternate objective, Crest Mountain.

Crest Mountain in Strathcona Park offers great easy hiking along a ridge with a great view
100 metres more to go to the summit ridge but the view was worth it

Late last year, but early in the winter snowshoeing season, we had a failed summit attempt on this peak. At the time, the snow depth was up to our shoulders, and we failed to find the all-important gully that leads to the lake at the top of the summit ridge. Today, we would fare much better.

Read the full report on his blog…

Mount Allan Brooks Intermediate Snowshoe on Family Day Weekend

-submitted by Matthew Lettington
Read the full report on his blog: Boring Art, Boring Life

Making the most of a long weekend means different things to different people. For Family Day Weekend 2016, I jammed in a daytrip for each of the three days, including an overnight camp at a familiar trailhead in Seward. Don’t fret, though; I spent at least one of those days with my family! On the first day, we did a beginner snowshoe trip to Lake Helen Mackenzie. On Day Two, I led an intermediate snowshoe trip to Mount Allen Brooks. For the final adventure, we cranked up the intensity at Stowe Peak, in the Prince of Wales Range.

Island Mountain Ramblers walking through Paradise Meadows
The line of Ramblers snaking along

Our trip to Mount Allen Brooks started at the early hour of 6:00 am, as we headed up to Raven Lodge. The morning brought poor conditions: dark clouds cast a dim light on the landscape, a light rain was falling, and a stiff breeze passed through us all as we stood outfitting ourselves, signing waivers , and waiting for everyone to arrive.

 I started the day with minor trepidation. This was my third attempt of Mount Allan Brooks; the two failed attempts were in less favourable conditions, but on this day I was less than fresh, as my hips were bruised from hauling my son around in the pulk sled the day before. It’s not often that I start a hike fatigued from an effort the day before — unless a tent is involved. However, I had a good feeling; the day before, I had noted that there was a cut track all the way to and across Lake Helen Mackenzie. Beyond that…. we would have to discover!

Mount Allen Brooks GPS Route & Map Strathcona Park, Vancouver Island
Mount Allen Brooks GPS route & map

Total Distance:  14.9 km
Starting Elevation: 1066 m
Maximum Elevation: 663 m
Total Time:  7 hours

Read the full report on Matthew Lettington’s blog: Boring Art, Boring Life

Mount Myra, a first attempt

–submitted by Matthew Lettington
Read the full report on his blog: Boring Art, Boring Life

Stonewalled, again! I’m getting tired of writing reports that end with a failed attempt on some peak or other. So far this winter we have been turned back on more than 4 different peaks! Mount Myra is the latest peak to turn us back and be added to the list.

Mount Myra in Strathcona Park
The long but quick road home. 

We expected good weather and we weren’t disappointed. Excellent visibility, cool temperatures, and light snow wouldn’t be the undoing of our attempt. An incredible accumulation of recent snow would accomplish that.

Mount Myra in Strathcona Park
Mount Myra Map and Photographs

Total Distance: 12.5 km
Starting Elevation: 331 m
Maximum Elevation: 1161 m
Total Elevation Gain: 926 m
Total Time: 8 hours

Read the full report on his blog: Boring Art, Boring Life