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Archive for the ‘Cascade Mountains’ Category

Location: Southwest British Columbia

Elevation: 2,596 metres

Range: North Cascades

Candidate: #55

I remember the name Silvertip from my childhood because my parents often took us to the Silvertip campsite in summer. It was one of our regular camping spots. I had no idea that there was such a fantastic mountain giving its name to the campsite.

Silvertip Mountain is the 35th (or 34th depending on the source) most prominent peak in British Columbia and the most prominent non-volcanic peak in the Cascades. It stands 1,871 metres above the Hope Slide Pass and is the most southern of the ultra-prominent peaks of British Columbia, located only 16 kilometres north of the American border. Regarding Silvertip’s prominence, as the entry of SummitPost mentions, if the American border were extended north 16 kilometres to include Silvertip, it would be the 6th most prominent peak in Washington State and the 25th most prominent in the contiguous states. Why do Canadian mountains exhibit such prominence? A big thanks can go to the ice age glaciers which were much more extensive and did that much more to change the landscape in Canada than in the States. The same reason why Mount Robson is only the 68th highest peak in the Rocky Mountains but has the highest prominence: Canadian glaciers were that much thicker and powerful.

Silvertip Mountain is not an overly technical mountain to climb but that does not mean it is easy. The two most common routes are the southwest ridge, which is said to cover a variety of terrain but is the least dangerous and recommended for first-time visitors to the peak, and the northwest side of the peak where people leave from the Sumallo River valley and climb up steep gullies to the ridge. The hazard of the gully routes is that there is a lot of loose rock that can easily be set in motion. Although the recommended climbing season is during the drier period of July through September, the gully routes are best taken in June when there is still snow covering the rocks. Earlier than that, there is likely to still be snow at the summit, making it a greater challenge to reach the top. To read an account of one party’s ascent by the northwest route, check out ClubTread here. Note that there is a false summit before the true summit and that some scrambling is involved on this final leg of the climb.

Silvertip Mountain first appeared on a map by cartographer Henry Custer with the name, “East Skagit Mountain”. The name was changed a couple of times until finally being given its current name. Because of its height, Silvertip maintains a snow cover on the summit well after surrounding mountains have lost theirs, thus giving the tip of the mountain a silvery appearance. It was first climbed on July 5th, 1908 by a Canadian Border Survey party, led by E.T. De Coeli and then not climbed again until 1940. The first winter ascent was in 1981. Silvertip Mountain is rarely climbed in winter due to the avalanche risks and even in summer few parties attempt to reach the summit. It’s a long hike with a lot of elevation gain and the dangerous route up the scree gullies probably deters many people as well. The views from the summit are, as one would imagine, breathtaking. For a good collection of images visit the SummitPost site mention above.

 

Photos:

Flickr 100 Famous Mountains of Canada

 

 

Sources:

SummitPost

Bivouac

ClubTread

Wikipedia

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Location: Near Chilliwack, British Columbia
Elevation: 2,429 metres
Range: Skagit Range, Cascade Mountains
Candidate: #54

During the years that I lived in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia (1975 to 1999 and 2005) I always enjoyed looking at the vista of mountains and admiring the shapes and contours of the various peaks, without actually knowing the names of most of them. Once very interesting peak (I didn’t know if it was in Canada or the U.S.) stood out above its neighbours like a fang. As it so happens, this distant peak was Slesse Mountain, whose name in Halqemeylem actually means “Fang”. According to the site for place names in British Columbia, the mountain was first labelled as Slesse in 1912 and the name was made official in 1936. The name was temporarily changed to Silesia in 1951 in order to conform to the Washington spelling, but soon it was changed back again.

Commonly referred to as Mount Slesse (but officially labelled as Slesse Mountain), the mountain is attractive to both climbers who go for the summit and hikers who can enjoy the Slesse Memorial, a commemorative trail honouring the 62 passengers and crew aboard the Trans-Canada Airlines flight who died on December 9th, 1956 when the aircraft crashed into Slesse Mountain in poor weather. No one was certain where the plane had crashed initially after radio communication ceased. However, in May of the following year, some hikers discovered a navigation map and later aluminium aircraft parts were found. By pressure from the Slesse Families, a group of families of the deceased, the area was protected from clearcut logging and made into a commemorative site. Hikers today can still spot aircraft debris and many have placed the parts on rocks so as to prevent them from disappearing back into the earth. As a side note, some of the passengers who died in the crash were team members of the Winnipeg Bluebombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders, who were flying back from Vancouver after the East-West all-star football game.

The mountain is composed of mostly diorite which is part of the Chilliwack Batholith that was intruded about 26 to 29 million years ago. This was part of the orogenic process associated with the eroded Pemberton Volcanic Belt, which formed with the subduction of the Farallon Plate. There are also some metamorphic rocks near the summit which were created near the contact point of the magma intrusion.

Slesse Mountain is known for its challenging climbing routes. It was first climbed in 1927 and involves nearly 1,650 metres of ascent with Class 5.6 climbing in places. It is featured in “Fifty Classic Climbs in North America” by Roper and Stecks.

Photos:

100 Famous Mountains of Canada on Flickr

Sources:

Wikipedia

Bivouac

SummitPost

Mountain Project

TrailPeak

ClubTread

GeoBC

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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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