Mount Benson, winter rears it’s head

–submitted by Mike Hordelski

We headed up, seven of us, shortly before 9:00, taking Trail #1 and prepared to cross the creek to begin our hike proper. However, not unexpected, the run-off from the rains made the crossing too chancy. Plan B, to double back on the Old Road and take the fork to the ridge trail wasn’t looking too good either, so we opted for the less eventful Direct Route up.

 I was placing a lot of hope on a snowy summit and we were not disappointed as the photos will attest! It was windy, so we took shelter just below to enjoy our lunch. Not as cold as expected, a bit of drizzle on the way up, I think most of us were overdressed for the day. Made our way down around around 1:00. Half way down, we passed people on their way up…always good to start early if you want to keep the light on the way down.

Got back to the cars just passed 2:00 with smiles all around.

Seven total in our group-all members

Full picture album..

Benson from the South-East

-Submitted by Ken Warren
-Photographs submitted by Deb Adams & Bil Derby

On Saturday March 14th eight of us set out from Morrell Sanctuary to tackle Benson from the south-east ridge. The forecast was for rain easing to showers with a probability of wind and a possibility of sun. It did rain, but it slowed as the morning went by. At Roberts Roost the views were starting to show, although it still looked socked in over in Whymper’s direction where the other club hike was happening. [As it turns out, the Whymper trip was cancelled do to a really terrible weather forecast]

The day continued to improve to the soundtrack of the rising wind as we worked our way upward along the rocky ridges and old growth with occasional views to the north and south. We did take an unintended side trip adding 35 minutes to our ascent, but I’ll mark that up to exploration. At the four hour mark approaching the summit we wondered what was making such incredible noise. With the communications towers in sight we realized it was the wind screaming through the masts and the guy wires. We tarried at the summit only long enough to claim completion before backtracking to the road and having lunch and enjoying the views in the sheltered area below the flag.

Taking the Te’tuxtw’tun trail down and onto the roads, we passed the Cougar Bluff Loop and descended the old trails through the switchbacks, arriving at the base of the Westwood Ridges trails. We headed right towards Morrell completing the hike there in 7 ¼ hours.

See Full Album ……

Mt Benson — Winter Hike?

–Submitted by Ken Warren
On Saturday, February 21, eight of us tackled Mt. Benson by the front route.  At 8:30 AM the Witchcraft Lake parking area had more cars than I usually see at that time.  The weather was promising with clear skies, although the wind was chill and strengthening.  The temperature rose as soon as we got into the timber and Witchcraft Lake’s low water was unfrozen.

Our trip up was uneventful.  We met a couple who had ascended in the dark to catch the sunrise.  The sight of the sun climbing up over the silhouette of Mt Baker was fresh in their minds.  We stopped at all the viewpoints, checking out Nanaimo landmarks,  freighters moored behind Newcastle and Protection, and some fog over parts of the Strait.

The wind was still blowing when we crossed the road, and I thought the summit might be cold. We took the trail that is now officially called, on the RDN map, The Straight to the Top Trail.  As we settled into a comfortable pace, we renewed previous and made new acquaintances.
The sky was clear and the wind died down as we made the summit – it was cool, but not enough to stop us from having a snack.  The views were very good, with some clarity lost to haze.  Moriarty, Arrowsmith, Cokely, Albert Edward, and Jutland had some snow, but not their usual mantles.  The coast mountains were, as always, impressive with their challenging crags and ridges.  Baker was visible, but not particularly clear. 

Descending the Te’tuxw’tun trail we saw no snow hiding among the shady bluffs.  We met more people as we came down, including a small group who had come up Benson’s south-east ridge.  It’s good to see so many people taking advantage of the weather and local hiking opportunities.  We were back in the parking lot before one o’clock.  Good weather, good views, and good company equals a good day.