Posts Tagged ‘Canadian mountains’

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.



Further reading:



Vancouver Trails

Whistler Hiking Trails


Read Full Post »

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.


Flickr 100 famous Mountains of Canada




The Legend of the Two Sisters


Bivouac West Lion

Bivouac East Lion

Vancouver Hiking



Read Full Post »