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Archive for April, 2013

Location: British Columbia, MountSeymourProvincialPark

Elevation, 1,449 metres

Range: CoastRange, PacificRanges, Fannin Range

Candidate: #51

Vancouver has three mountains for winter recreation: Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain, and Mount Seymour. All three mountains also offer summer activities as well. Each mountain has its own claim to fame. Cypress Mountain has a trail accessing the Lions; Grouse Mountain has a cable car and well-developed tourist area as well as the famous Capilano Canyon and its suspension bridge below its south west side, in the City of North Vancouver; and Mount Seymour is in a provincial park. Of the three peaks, Mount Seymour was the one that dominated the view from my living room window when I grew up. From my perspective, it seemed to be the most prominent and the highest of the North Shore Mountains.

Though first ascended in 1908 by the BC Mountaineering Club, it was largely unknown to Vancouverites until a ski resort was opened in 1938. The mountain has many well-established ski, cross country ski, and snowshoe routes but each year rescue teams have to look for skiers and others who have fallen into couloirs or who have wandered off the track and gotten lost. Thanks to auto access to the ski resort, its very easy to drive most of the way up the mountain. There are three peaks and the Third Pump Peak is the true summit. The Suicide Bluffs are a good place to practice rock climbing, and in winter ice climbing.

As a provincial park, the mountains slopes protect many species of trees and vegetation, and many wild animals. On the west side is the smaller cousin to Capilano Canyon, called Lynn Canyon. It’s famous not only for its beauty but for the dangerous sport of canyon diving which has claimed the lives of a few young people over the decades. There are also hiking trails into the backcountry. Near Rice Lake, a marker commemorates a plane crash that occurred just north of Seymour. The mountain was named after Frederick Seymour, Governor of British Columbia from 1864 to 1869.

The granite of Mount Seymour is part of the great granite intrusion that makes up the Coast Range batholith. The North Shore Mountains experienced heavy glaciation during the last ice age.

References:

BC Parks

Wikipedia

Vancouver Trails

Trek It Now

Outdoor Vancouver

Photos:

Flickr 100 Mountains of Canada

Next:

Mount Robie Reid

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Location: British Columbia, east end of the Fraser Valley
Elevation: 2,104 metres
Range: North Cascades
Candidate: #50

The Fraser Valley is surrounded by mountains to the north and east and there are mountains to the southeast in Washington State and to the far west on Vancouver Island. Of all the many peaks visible, there are a few that truly stand out for their individual beauty in shape and form, and Mount Cheam is one of them. Situated at the eastern end of the Fraser Valley, in Chilliwack, and standing watch over the valley, Mount Cheam’s distinctive north face makes it an easily recognizable mountain – a steep drop plummets 2,000 metres to the Trans Canada Highway below.

Details behind the name “Cheam” are given on Wikipedia and Bivouac. I’m afraid I can’t provide all the correct accent marks for the names of the First Nations people who had names for this mountain, but “Cheam” means wild strawberries in the Halkomelem language. For the Sto:lo, it was the ‘mother mountain’ with neighbouring Lady Peak being the woman’s dog. Mount Cheam or Cheam Peak is the farthest northerly peak of the Cheam Range. It is not the highest peak but because of its beautiful pyramid shape and prominent position near a heavily populated area, it makes for a good candidate for the list of 100 mountains.

There is a fairly easy hiking trail that is only accessible by 4WD vehicles on a logging road. The hike to the summit passes through an alpine slopes that bloom full of yellow avalanche lilies. From the summit there is a 360-degree view of the Fraser Valley and the surrounding mountains. A trail also connects to Lady Peak, Knight Peak, and beyond. For details on how to get there and the 4.5-hour round trip hike, please see the references below.

One interesting piece of information that came up was the case of a plane crash in the area. It seems that some 70 to 50 years ago there were a few plane crashes in the Canadian Cascades and the North Shore mountains, and one plane is said to have crashed near Knight Peak. Hikers report having spotted airplane aluminium near the trail. Another report tells of a crash near Mount Sleese. It seems as though these beautiful mountains were also death traps for early aviators in the area.

References:

Vancouver Trails

Wikipedia

Trail Peak

Club Tread

Bivouac

Photos:

Flickr 100 Mountains of Canada

Next: Mount Seymour

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Location: Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia
Elevation: 2,408 metres (east summit and officially named summit)
Range: North Cascades
Candidate: #49

When I was growing up, Manning Park was a popular place to camp with my family. Only three hours away by car, the Lightning Lake campsite was our usual spot because we had a canoe and always included a paddle on the lake in our outdoor experience. Forested mountains surround the lake and from certain viewpoints Frosty Mountain’s bare rocky peak can be seen above all others.

Though I have regrettably never climbed it, there is a good trail from Lightning Lake leading to Camp Frosty where tents can be pitched. There’s a very nice family hike account of the climb to the camp and the summit here. As with many hikes in Canada, there are a number of switchbacks up the steeper parts and near the rocky summit the path becomes somewhat dangerous due to the amount of loose rock. The course goes through forest, sub-alpine, and alpine to the summit. The length is 22.2 km from Lightning Lakes and is said to take 9 hours round trip for those who don’t camp on the mountain. Worthy of mention is a stand of larch trees that are said to be among the oldest in Canada, dating back some 2,000 years!

An interesting note about the summit elevation: Frosty Mountain has actually two summits and the lower east summit is the one labelled “Frosty Mountain” on the map, according to bivouac.com. The west summit is slightly higher, reaching 2,426 metres (or 2,423 metres depending on the web site) and it is labelled “7950” on the map. The family account mentioned above shows a photo on the summit with the marker in the photo reading “2,408 m”. Frosty Mountain is the highest peak within Manning Provincial Park.

The mountain is composed of up-thrust sedimentary rock from the ancient Methow Ocean. On a train near Lightning Lake, there is a sign mentioning fossils on the area. I happened to once find a good sized chunk of rock full of black seashell fossils there.

Sources:

Frosty Mountain hike

E.C. Manning Provincial Park

Club Tread

Hike Chilliwack

Bivouac

Photos:

Flickr 100 Mountains of Canada

Next: Mount Cheam

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Location: Golden Ears Provincial Park, British Columbia
Elevation: 1,716 metres
Range: Coast Mountains, Garibaldi Ranges
Candidate: #48

One of those mountains that stand out from all the visible peaks of around the Fraser Valley is Golden Ears Mountain and its sub-peaks of Edge Peak and the Blanshard Needle. Together, the three peaks provide a beautiful backdrop to so many typical Fraser Valley scenes. When the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board asked me to shoot an instantly recognizable Fraser Valley view, I gave them a shot of Golden Ears standing behind a new housing estate and they used it on the cover of a publication. I made four attempts to climb the mountain but only made it on the fourth because the previous attempts had been too early in the year and I was not prepared for snow. I reached the summit in clouds and failed to see the view over the Fraser Valley. But Golden Ears Mountain has always been one of the mountains that drew my eye for so many years of my life.

Golden Ears is only 1,716 metres high but it rises up from the Fraser Valley and has a prominence of 1,002 metres! The original English name was Golden Eyries, probably for the eagles that were often seen soaring in the area. At first the whole area was called the Golden Eyries but later the area was called Mt. Blanshard and the Golden Eyries was corrupted to Golden Ears, the name given to the highest peak with the twin summits. Some people suggest that the two summits appear golden when they catch the light of the setting sun.

The mountain is the highpoint between Pitt Lake and Gold Creek and because it is visible from almost anywhere in the Greater Vancouver Area, it is also a popular hiking destination. A trail with a 1,500 metre elevation gain follows Gold Creek and partway up there is a tenting area in the Alder Flats. An emergency shelter sits further up the mountain. The last stretch to the summit requires a little scrambling. The mountain was first climbed in 1911 by a BCMC party.

Golden Ears1

Sources:

Wikipedia

Bivouac

Summitpost

Photos:

Flickr 100 Mountains of Canada

Next: Frosty Mountain

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Moving On…

The Rocky Mountains have so many beautiful peaks to add to this list. However, I have been eager to move on to other parts of Canada and I am now looking at the mountains closest to my “home” in Southwestern British Columbia. The first post is ready and I will be looking at nearly a dozen mountains in the area and nearby ranges. So, for now, we will leave the Rockies behind.

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