Posts Tagged ‘Slesse Mountain’

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.


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