Location: British Columbia, Garibaldi Provincial Park
Elevation: 2,678 metres
Range: Coast Mountains, Pacific Ranges, Garibaldi Ranges
Volcanoes have to be the most exciting mountains to read about because unlike other mountains that just look breathtaking, volcanoes actually do things that make one marvel at the forces of nature.
Mount Garibaldi is a breathtaking mountain to behold indeed. Captain George Vancouver was surely impressed by it when he arrived in 1792, and George Henry Richards, who was surveying Howe Sound aboard the HMS Plumber in 1860 was suitably impressed enough to give a new appellation to the mountain, naming it after the Italian military and political leader, Guiseppe Garibaldi.
Prior to European visitation, the indigenous people here had called it Nch’kay, the Dirty Place, because of the muddy waters that flowed from the mountain in the Cheekye River. According to their oral history, a great flood occurred that covered all but two mountains and the people latched their canoes to the slopes of Nch’kay until the waters subsided. The area was of special importance to them owing to the abundance of obsidian – natural glass – which could be found on the upper parts of the mountain.
Mount Garibaldi formed in a series of volcanic eruptions roughly 250,000 years ago. It is a unique volcano in North America because it erupted atop an ice sheet during the last glacial period. Though the ancestral volcano formed a nice cone typical of stratovolcanoes, partial melting of the ice caused distortions in the latter formation of the cone. Not only the main volcano, but several surrounding volcanic features formed during the eruptive periods. Table Mountain is a flat-topped volcanic structure that formed beneath the ice sheet. The Opal Cone is responsible for a 20km-long lava flow from an eruption between 10,700 and 9,300 years ago. The Barrier is a wall of lava that pooled against a glacier when Clinker Peak of Mount Price erupted. Then there’s the remarkable Black Tusk, which will be featured in the next post.
Mount Garibaldi is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc which extends from California up to Mount Meager northwest of Garibaldi, or to the Silverthrone Caldera according to some geologists. Though dormant now, it is considered to have potentially active magma chambers and exhibits frequent seismic activity.
Garibaldi Provincial Park was established in 1927 to protect the rich geology of the area. There are five main hiking trails with wilderness camping areas. Visitors can experience grand views of glaciated peaks and enjoy alpine meadows. Climbing the mountain is dangerous as much of the exposed rock is rotten lava and volcanic ash; however, crossing the Garibaldi Névé, which covers much of the mountain’s east side, and following snow routes are the best way to reach the summit. Therefore, even though hiking is best enjoyed from July to September, climbing should be done during the colder season. The first to reach the summit were mountaineers A. Dalton, W. Dalton, A. King, T. Pattison, J.J. Trorey, and G. Warren of Vancouver in 1907.