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Posts Tagged ‘100 Famous Mountains of Canada’

Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia

Elevation: 2,319 metres

Range: Garibaldi Ranges, The Coast Ranges

Candidate #60

The Black Tusk from Clinker Peak

The Black Tusk from Clinker Peak

From Highway 99 it looks like a black shark’s fin carving the sky far in the distance, high above the tree tops. From Blackcomb Mountain it appears to be a sliver of rock pricking the summit of a local nondescript peak. From the Black Tusk meadows it looks more like a gigantic loaf of blackened bread, and from Mt. Price it stands like a black rotten tooth. No matter the direction though, the Black Tusk’s English name is quickly understood for its aptness. The black stub of volcanic rock protruding from the crumbling grey volcanic cone is indeed very much like a tusk.

The native Squamish people had a different interpretation. This was “The Seat of the Thunderbird”, blackened by the mythological creature’s lightning sparks, an image that is also easily conjured in the imagination.

The Garibaldi Volcanic Belt was an active region of volcanism from around 1.3 million years ago until the early Holocene Period. During the Pleistocene Period, the region was heavily glaciated and many of the volcanic features formed in a glacial environment. Mt. Garibaldi actually formed on top of an ice sheet; the Barrier formed when a lava flow was dammed by glacial ice; and the Table is a volcanic mountain that formed beneath the ice sheet. The Black Tusk is believed to be the andesite lava that hardened in the conduit of a cinder-rich volcano. Over the millennia, the outer rock has been eroding away, exposing the darker lava plug of the volcano’s neck.

The Black Tusk is one of the best-known mountains in the local mountain ranges and is popular among hikers and artists. Though the rock is friable and loose, there is a route to the summit up through a chimney which is accessible from the Black Tusk Meadows. From the summit one can see twin peaks of The Lions which stand watch over Vancouver. While it is possible to climb the mountain as a day trip from the Garibaldi Lake parking lot, it does make for a very long day. Most prefer to camp at Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows and take a more leisurely time.

This was the first mountain I ever climbed. When I was 17 years old, a high school friend and I spent two nights camping at Garibaldi Lake and climbed to the summit of The Tusk on the second day. While climbing the chimney, my friend called down to me and as I looked up I struck my right knee against a sharp piece of lava rock, puncturing the skin in two places. I still bear two faint scars from that incident and I proudly think of them as my Black Tusk scars.

Photos:

Flickr

Further reading:

Wikipedia

Bivouac

Vancouver Trails

Whistler Hiking Trails

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Location: Metro Vancouver, British Columbia

Elevation: West Lion 1,646 metres, East Lion 1,606 metres

Range: North Shore Mountains, Coast Range

Candidate: #56

The Lions are the most easily recognizable and outstanding mountain peaks visible from Vancouver and many of the surrounding areas. From my childhood home in Surrey they were visible from the living room window and from my street. Set back from the mountains overlooking the city, the Lions are two twin hornblende diorite peaks that resemble the lion monuments of Trafalgar Square, hence their English name. The Lions have inspired the name of Lions Gate Bridge and the B.C. Lions football team.

Geologic history has them carved out by the great glaciers that once covered the local mountains; however, native lore tells a beautiful story of two sisters. A great chief or Tyee of the area was going to hold a tremendous banquet and celebration – a potlatch – to celebrate the coming of age of his two treasured daughters. People of tribes from all around were invited except for a tribe to the north with which the Tyee was at war. As he had won all the recent battles he decided he could afford to turn his back on their war cries for a week to celebrate. His daughters then came to him and requested that he invite his enemies to the fest. The father could not deny his daughters their wish as it was their celebration and so invitation fires were lit up the coast and the two warring tribes made peace. The Great Sagalie Tyee saw his Indian children and smiled and decided to make the two sisters immortal. He placed them on the mountains where they remain to this day. The name in the native Squamish language means “The Sisters”. For a detailed retelling of the story, go here.

The Lions can be reached via the Binkert Trail from Lions Bay or the Howe Sound Crest Trail. The elevation gain is over 1,200 metres and round trip takes several hours. Most people climb to the base of the West Lion but many attempt the climb to the summit. This is not a climb for the inexperienced and there have been deaths. A good report on the climbing conditions can be found here. The East Lion is the more difficult of the two to climb but it is within the Capilano Watershed and climbing is forbidden though this is not enforced.

For their symbolism to the City of Vancouver and their importance to the Squamish Nation, as well as for their natural beauty and geologic interest, I believe this mountain with its twin peaks is worthy of being considered one of Canada’s 100 famous Mountains.

Photos:

Flickr 100 famous Mountains of Canada

 

Sources:

Wikipedia

The Legend of the Two Sisters

TrailPeak

Bivouac West Lion

Bivouac East Lion

Vancouver Hiking

 

 

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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: 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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Candidate: #42

Location: Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta

Elevation: 3,450 metres

Range: Canadian Rockies, Continental Ranges, Columbia Icefield

For the millions of tourists who have taken the Columbia Icefield’s glacier bus and those who have simply stopped at the Columbia Icefield or even just driven past, Mount Andromeda makes up part of a truly impressive scene. Cropping up between the Athabasca Glacier and the Saskatchewan Glacier and situated just 2km west of Mount Athabasca, Andromeda’s hulking form and imposing cliffs beckon the eye.

Named in 1938 by Rex Gibson, a former president of the Alpine Club of Canada, after the mythological daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia and wife of Perseus, Andromeda has several climbing routes, all of which have exposed sections and potentially severe rockfall. For a list of routes check PeakFinder and for climbing routes with guides check Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides.

Mount Andromeda has two summits. Until recently it was thought that both summits were of the same height, but the BC Basemap shows the Northeast summit has an extra 20m contour line.

As part of the Athabasca Glacier view, Mount Andromeda is likely more photographed than its higher neighbour, Mount Athabasca. The proximity of the mountain to the parkway thrusts its beautiful face into the view of all who pass by, making it one of the memorable mountain faces of the Canadian Rockies.

Sources:

SummitPost

Wikipedia

Bivouac

PeakFinder

Canadian Rockies Alpine Guides

Photos:

Flickr 100 Famous Mountains of Canada

Next: Mount Alberta

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Candidate #41

Location: Banff National Park, Alberta

Elevation: 2,998 metres

Range: Canadian Rockies

One of the most popular tourist views in the Canadian Rockies is the view down Banff Avenue with the uplifted grey folds of strata of Cascade Mountain towering above the shops. Long before there was a Banff Townsite and Banff Avenue, Cascade Mountain was still an eye-catcher rising up from a small prairie and looming over the Bow Valley. The native people called it Minihapa – Mountain Where the Water Falls. Both Sir George Simpson in 1841 and Father Pierre-Jean De Smet in 1845 noted the cascade of water plummeting down from a cliff on the mountainside. James Hector and his party stopped at the little prairie below the mountain in 1858 and climbed up the lower reaches of the mountain, noting various wildlife in his journal, pikas capturing his attention in particular it seems for their comical movements. The little prairie is now known as Whiskey Meadows and Mountain Where the Water Falls was aptly named Cascade Mountain in English, appreciatively shorter than the direct translation of Minihapa.

Being so close to Banff Town, it is a popular mountain to climb. The best time of the year is July to September, but many people attempt to climb the ice falls in winter. The summer climbing route can be accessed from the Norquay Ski Area base. The hike is described as moderate up to the Cascade Amphitheatre with some moderate scrambling involved on the way to the summit. About 4 hours are required to make it to the summit and another 3 or so for the return. Grizzly bears are often sighted around the parking area and meadows so a can of bear spray is essential to one’s kit.

A few interesting notes that came up about the mountain are that a mirror was placed at the top of the mountain by locals some years back and there was a rumour of the fossilized remains of a prehistoric monster found near the top (though don’t expect to find it should you go). The mountain was also once known locally as Stony Chief and one of a pair with Stony Squaw, who still retains her name. he mountain was first climbed in 1887 by Tom Wilson.

Sources:

Wikipedia

PeakFinder

Peakware

SummitPost

Downclimbing

Bivouac

Photos:

Flickr 100 Famous Mountains of Canada

Next:

Mount Andromeda

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Candidate: #40

Location: British Columbia/Alberta

Elevation: 3,295 metres

Range: Waputik Range, Canadian Rockies

The Continental Divide separates the southern halves of Alberta and British Columbia in a wild jagged jigsaw-cut border that follows the spine of the Rocky Mountains. At Howse Peak, the NE-running ridge takes a sudden 90 degree turn to the NW. Like the corner of some colossal structure, Howse Peak stands straight up, a face of awesome cliffs looming over the head of Chephren Lake. Its head is composed of reddish tinged dolomite layers that are banded with snow highlights in early summer. The base is dark limestone with little snow highlighting. It is the highest mountain in the Waputik Range.

Explorer David Thompson named the nearby pass after Hudson’s Bay Company explorer and trader, Joseph Howse, who went through Howse Pass in 1809, two years after Thompson did. Originally, a trading route to the native peoples of British Columbia was sought. However, the Pikuanni guarded the pass carefully because they didn’t want either explorer to gain access to any western Native groups. As it was, the Hudson’s Bay Company deemed the pass unsafe and it was not used for another 12 years. Thompson went north and used the Athabasca Pass. The mountain subsequently got its name from the pass.

Because of its imposingly steep face, Howse Peak is not an easy climb. It rises 1,600 metres above Howse Pass and the Mistaya Valley in just a few horizontal kilometres. The NE buttress route was once considered the hardest route in the Rockies. The easiest route follows a 25 kilometre hike up the Howse River and then a climb up a glacier on the west side. For an exciting trip up a route named “Howse of Cards” please check this site here. Norman Collie, along with H. Kauffman, H.E.M. Stutfield, H Woolley, and G.M. Weed made the first ascent in 1902.

Sources:

Wikipedia

PeakFinder

PeakWare

Bivouac

Ryan Hokanson

Gravsports

Photos:

Flickr 100 Famous Mountains of Canada

Next:

Cascade Mountain

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