Our late September trip to Pinder Peak was fantastic! The combination of a dry, cool day on a snow-free route filled with plenty of alpine berries reminded me why I (sometimes) love fall hiking! This trip was very different from my first trip to Pinder Peak.
If you’ve ever driven along by Atluk Lake, you’ve probably spotted the Pinder massif out your window. It rises from the wooded shores of the lake as a rocky tower that begs the mountaineer to climb it. The summit massif is marked by two prominent features, either of which is a worthy objective, though the subpeak is probably more of a challenge.
Total Distance: 14.0 km
Starting Elevation: 360 m
Maximum Elevation: 1550 m
Total Elevation Gain: 1223 m
Total Time: 7 hours
Nothing screams “winter break” more than an overnighter in Vancouver Island’s Alpine. Complete with camping on snow, and a longish logging road approach to the start of the route, this trip will remain in my memory for a long time.
It is a long-standing Island Mountain Ramblers’ tradition to make the most of New Year’s Day, celebrating with a winter hike up Mt. Arrowsmith’s Judges Route, a semi-annual trip we call Katzenjammer. This year, though, I attended a different trip; Phil Jackson hosted a Ramblers trip to Pinder Peak, a seldom-visited peak in the Province Range. It sees few ascents, let alone winter ascents! Four participants enjoyed cold weather camping and fair snowshoe conditions, attempting this summit.
Originally we were going to climb Big Interior Mountain, but after watching the weather forecast and
seeing that 1 meter or more snow was going to fall we decided to look further afield for somewhere the storm wasn’t going to hit. Further north the weather was supposed to be much milder. We decided on Pinder Peak in the Province Range.
Heading north we turned off at the Zeballos forestry service road, after 9km we turned right onto the Atluck mainline. We came upon one of the most strikingly beautiful lakes on the island, Atluck Lake. After spending some time photographing the lake we carried on to the end of the lake where we turned left onto Artlish main and carried on for a further 4 km tim we came upon the deactivated spur road we were looking for. We hiked up the road to an elevation of 770m and set up camp.
Being as it was only 11:30 we decide to attempt the summit while the weather was good. Heading up through B1/2 bush we came upon a cliff band at approximately 1050m. To our left was a gully that had a raging creek and to the right difficult ground and a flagged route up to the ridge above us. This is also where we hit the first snow. The hike beyond is relatively easy ground. However is was dampened by meter deep powder snow, it didn’t support weight. Around the same time the weather took a turn for the worst.
By the time we approached the summit we had less than 20m visibility and it was starting to snow quite hard. Reaching our agreed upon turn around time we beat a hasty retreat and arrived back at camp just as it got dark. As it was raining hard and realizing that a summit attempt the next morning was now out of the question, we quickly packed up and headed down to the car using headlamps to see.
This is a very beautiful area with incredible views of both sides of the island with really good road
access and worthy of a visit