cover

Copyright © 2018 by David Crerar, Harry Crerar and Bill Maurer

First Edition

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, audio recording, or otherwise – without the written permission of the publisher or a photocopying licence from Access Copyright. Permissions and licensing contribute to a secure and vibrant book industry by helping to support writers and publishers through the purchase of authorized editions and excerpts. To obtain an official licence, please visit accesscopyright.ca or call 1-800-893-5777.

RMB | Rocky Mountain Books Ltd.

rmbooks.com @rmbooks facebook.com/rmbooks

Cataloguing data available from Library and Archives Canada

ISBN 9781771602419 (paperback)

ISBN 9781771602754 (electronic)

All photographs are by the authors unless otherwise noted.

Cover design: Chyla Cardinal

Layout design: Lin Oosterhoff

Distributed in Canada by Heritage Group Distribution and in the U.S. by Publishers Group West

For information on purchasing bulk quantities of this book, or to obtain media excerpts or invite the author to speak at an event, please visit rmbooks.com and select the “Contact Us” tab.

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and of the province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.

DISCLAIMER

The actions described in this book may be considered inherently dangerous activities. Individuals undertake these activities at their own risk. The information put forth in this guide has been collected from a variety of sources and is not guaranteed to be completely accurate or reliable. Many conditions and some information may change owing to weather and numerous other factors beyond the control of the authors and publishers. Individuals or groups must determine the risks, use their own judgment, and take full responsibility for their actions. Do not depend on any information found in this book for your own personal safety. Your safety depends on your own good judgment based on your skills, education, and experience.

It is up to the users of this guidebook to acquire the necessary skills for safe experiences and to exercise caution in potentially hazardous areas. The authors and publishers of this guide accept no responsibility for your actions or the results that occur from another’s actions, choices, or judgments. If you have any doubt as to your safety or your ability to attempt anything described in this guidebook, do not attempt it.

David dedicates this book to Harry, Philippa, Isla,
and Angus: the youngest baggers.

Harry dedicates this book to his parents
and grandparents.

Bill dedicates this book to his parents,
Fred and Fritzi, for making Vancouver their
home and his birthplace in this beautiful natural
environment, and to his children, Andrew and Annie,
for continuing the family tradition of adventure and
exploration in the great outdoors.

NORTH SHORE RESCUE AND
LIONS BAY SEARCH AND RESCUE

North Shore Rescue (NSR) was founded in 1965. Since then, it has grown to be one of North America’s most active and prominent mountain search and rescue teams.

Lions Bay Search and Rescue (LBSAR) was founded in 1983, after the debris torrent that killed Tom and David Wade in February of that year.

These teams of volunteers have saved countless lives in the mountains surveyed in this book. Even those who go into the mountains properly prepared know that this dedicated army stands on guard to help if the hiker unexpectedly breaks a leg or worse. We are all in their debt.

A portion of the proceeds from this book will be given to NSR and LBSAR, registered non-profit societies dedicated to saving the lives of people in distress on local mountains. We encourage you to donate to them as well:

NORTH SHORE RESCUE TEAM SOCIETY

147 East 14th Street

North Vancouver, BC V7L 2N4

canadahelps.org/en/charities/north-shore-search-and-rescue-vancouver-sr-team

LIONS BAY SEARCH AND RESCUE SOCIETY

PO Box 629

Lions Bay, BC V0N 2E0

canadahelps.org/dn/9468

If you are ever rescued by one of these organizations, donate generously and regularly. How much is your life worth? How many hundreds of hours were spent rescuing you? Repay your debt, in full, now, or over the remainder of your but-for-your-rescue lifespan.

This book is not associated with or published by these organizations.

CONTENTS

North Shore Rescue and Lions Bay Search and Rescue

Acknowledgements

Introduction

Howe Sound Islands (9 peaks)

Britannia Range (23 peaks)

Grouse Mountain Area (9 peaks)

Hanes Valley Peaks (3 peaks)

Lynn Peaks (5 peaks)

Cathedral Peaks (4 peaks)

Fannin Range (14 peaks)

Appendices

Endnotes

Index

DIVISION OF LABOUR

David and Harry Crerar were primarily responsible for the route descriptions and for the historical and natural history research. Bill Maurer was primarily responsible for the maps and measurements, as well as the bagger tips.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Loud thanks go to Ean Jackson, who makes the world a finer place with his energy, enthusiasm, and generosity, through his trail-running group, Club Fat Ass, and all of his other endeavours. Ean was instrumental in our full immersion into the religion of trail running and the worship of nature, and we, along with the thousands of others he has helped, will always love and revere him.

Special thanks to Dr. Glenn Woodsworth, who graciously shared his wisdom of the mountains with us, and who provided invaluable comments on an early draft of this book. We were heartened to see that Glenn received similar thanks in Dick Culbert’s classic 1965 A Climber’s Guide to the Coastal Ranges of British Columbia, and here he is, helping us, 50 years later.

We also here acknowledge that the legendary Dick Culbert (1940 Winnipeg – 2017 Gibsons) died just before publication of this book. All devotees of British Columbia mountains are in his debt.

A warm thanks to our friends and fellow adventurers Julia Lawn, Mick Bailey, Ran Katzman, Christine Moric, Bill Dagg, Dr. Neil Ambrose, Glenn Pacé, Simon Chesterton, Doris Leong, Avery Gottfried, Michael Kay, and Rick Arikado, who helpfully read early drafts of this book and provided useful thoughts. And to our adventurers-in-crime Ken Legg, Tundra, Tom Hamilton, Simon Cowell, Roy Millen, Magnus Verbrugge, Rían Ó Maoil Chonaire, Anders Ourom, Mike Wardas, Ferg Hawke, Bill Hawke, Rob Letson, Sean Muggah, and Gavin Marshall. And our profound thanks to the professional, enthusiastic and dedicated team at RMB | Rocky Mountain Books: Don Gorman, Joe Wilderson, Chyla Cardinal, and Jillian van der Geest.

Our hearty thanks as well to Daien Ide and Janet Turner (North Vancouver Museum and Archives); Evelyn Chui; Robin Tivy; Allan McMordie; Allison Hunt; Curtis Jones; Craig Moore; Tim Logie; Tony and Maureen Crerar; Philippa Crerar; Craig Williams; Angus Gunn QC; Katie Heung, Pippa Sugimoto; Ken Tyler; Doug Keir; Paddy Sherman; Deidre Cullon; Linda Dorricott; Fiona Hamersley Chambers; Dr. Michael Pidwirny (Associate Professor, Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences, UBC), Dr. Elizabeth Moore; Diana Cooper (Archaeology Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations); Jon Whelan; Lindsay A. Stokalko and Elizabeth Kundert-Cameron (Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies); Michael Kennedy, Liz Scremin, Jay MacArthur and Paul Geddes (ACC); Martin Kafer and Dr. Michael Feller (BCMC); Tony Cox (Lions Bay Historical Society); John Taylor; Jim Slight (Deep Cove Heritage Society); Andrew Durnin (District of North Vancouver); Kris Holm (BGC Engineering); Reto Tschan (West Vancouver Archives); Carla Jack (Provincial Toponymist, BC Geographical Names Office) and Susan J. Green (Registrar, BC Register of Historic Places, Heritage Branch, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations); Melissa Adams (Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Resource Centre); Ann Stevenson (Museum of Anthropology Library); Dr. Jesse Morin; Lyle Litzenberger; Maria Bremner; Alan Martin; Murray Comley; Aleksandra Brzozowski (Islands Trust); Trudi Luethy; Chris Cryderman; Hugh Kellas; Lid Hawkins; Donald Grant and Iola Knight (Hollyburn Heritage Society); Katharine Steig (Friends of Cypress Provincial Park); the staff at the City of Vancouver Archives and Vancouver Public Library Special Collections; Candice Bjur (UBC Archives); Chelsea Shriver (Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian, UBC); Jesse Morwood (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure); Drs. Ryan Janicki, David Briggs, Elna Johnson, and Bob Sharma; the late Major James Skitt Matthews (the City of Vancouver’s first archivist), and Bob Dylan.

Artaban: views of Harvey and Lions across Howe Sound

INTRODUCTION

I have watched the population grow from twenty thousand to nearly half a million, and the tax burden become heavier every year as the population increased. That odious word “parking” had not yet been coined, and traffic was regulated by the good sense of those who used the roads. An hour’s walk would take us out into the woods, where nature could be enjoyed by the poorest without cost. Progress we have attained in great measure. Yes, but it seems we have paid a heavy price. Freedom and contentment have had to go down under the Juggernaut of progress. Through all the changes that Vancouver has passed, from a small town to a seething metropolis, The Lions have looked down unperturbed by the hectic scramblings of restless, ambitious men. Their unchanging serenity is a tonic to the souls of those who, in their perplexity, wonder what it is all about and how it all will end. We can be thankful that God made something that man, in all his conceit, cannot destroy. When we look up to The Lions, in their calm, enduring majesty, we feel comforted and assured that, so long as they stand guard over our destiny, no great harm can befall.

— John F. Latta, The Ascent of The Lions, 1903

Is it not wonderful that mountaineering has taken its place among the elect of the world’s pastimes? The game is played in the most sublime of playgrounds, where in the clearest, purest air lofty ridges and snowy peaks rise from dark forests in beauty ever changing in charm and colour, from hour to hour and season to season. There, in the safest solitude of the everlasting hills, nothing is ordinary or trivial, and the petty anxieties which loom so large in the world of cities, give way to a delightful sense of absolute freedom and the joy of living.

— Basil Stewart Darling, “The Passion for Mountain Climbing,” 1910

… though not my first introduction to the mountains, [this trip] was the means of ushering me into a circle of mountaineers among whom I was destined to win friends, few, but true friendships, that have stood the tests of all vicissitudes of trail and camp and climb, severer tests than those to which more conventional friendships are subjected. Are not such friendships sufficient reasons alone for feeling not far removed from Mountain-Worship?

— Don Munday, “The Cathedral Group,” 1913,
after climbing White Mountain (now Mount Burwell) for the first time

… imagine you are driving north, across the Lions Gate Bridge, and the sky is steely gray and the sugar-dusted mountains loom blackly in the distance. Imagine what lies behind those mountains – realize that there are only more mountains – mountains until the North Pole, mountains until the end of the world, mountains taller than a thousand me’s, mountains taller than a thousand you’s.
Here is where civilization ends; here is where time ends and where eternity begins.

— Douglas Coupland, Polaroids from the Dead, 1996

Vancouverites are the most privileged people on the planet to live in this paradise. Mountains define our city, and we exult in their natural beauty. But Vancouverites of all stripes take the North Shore mountains for granted. Most Vancouverites, glancing up from their lattés, barely register the background wallpaper of the North Shore peaks. If pressed, most could only name Seymour and Grouse, and misname Cypress, as the three known mountains of the North Shore, owing solely to their status as ski hills. Beyond that, our peaks are a nameless and amorphous blue-green backdrop.

Until a decade ago, the authors felt some degree of shame over their ignorance. Despite avidly hiking, running, and, indeed, living on their slopes, we remained largely unaware of these mountains in their fullest beauty and adventure. On the commute home, the supports of Lions Gate Bridge framed a lovely pyramidal peak: what was it called? I made enquiries among online hiking enthusiasts. Most were stumped on this most impressive of the front-row peaks: West Crown (sometimes called “Sleeping Beauty”). From my office, I gazed up the Capilano Lake reservoir to a distant rounded bump: what was it? Some sleuthing revealed it to be Capilano Mountain. Rare write-ups of its ascent gave it mixed reviews. These proved to be horribly unfair: actual exploration revealed it to be an adventure playground of lakes, tarns, and lovely granite slabs, all electrified by the tingling sense of an adventure very close yet very far.

Historically, European settlement in the area now known as Vancouver and the rise of mountaineering internationally occurred around the same time. Arrivals to Vancouver soon began exploring and climbing the peaks of the North Shore, with most of the first ascents (recorded ascents, at least) occurring on the front-range mountains in the 1890s and 1900s. Until the Second World War, members of the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (“BCMC”: see Appendix 3) and other hikers and climbers enthusiastically explored our local peaks. With the rise of the automobile and expanded roadways, however, interest in local peaks waned as serious climbers looked elsewhere for new adventures, and as more casual hikers stuck to the same well-trodden trails in local provincial and regional parks. Over the past 30 years, the rise in the twin enthusiasms for green and healthy lifestyles, coupled with a greater public zeal for exploration and adventure, has rekindled interest in some of the lesser-known local peaks.

There are so many peaks, so many stunning sights, mere kilometres away, right in our own backyard. There is infinite adventure only a short drive, bus ride, bike ride, or jog away. Adventures like these create a rare and special camaraderie known only by hardy kindred spirits who, exhausted, glow from mountain conquest and the beauty of nature. The goal of this book is to open these doors and to allow you to sense the same wonderment that we did when we discovered that such scenery and adventure lies in our backyards. From the salamanders and emerald moss of the peaks of Gambier in the west to the hanging lake of Fannin in the east. From the ridge adventure of Howe Sound Crest Trail in the south to the remote grandeur of Capilano in the north. From the dolphin-leaping waters of Howe Sound in the west to the seal-snorting ripples of Indian Arm in the east. Over this land, streams burble and waterfalls roar; ancient, moss-covered trees still tower; ephemeral wildflowers bloom in abundance; myriad mushrooms stir at rain; salmon spawn; and deer, bear, cougars, and even mountain goats roam. We present to you the glorious peaks of Vancouver’s North Shore.

WHY THESE PEAKS?

Any peak list is an inherently debatable and arbitrary process. We have started with the geographic boundaries of Howe Sound in the west (including the mountains on the Howe Sound Islands) and Indian Arm to the east. The northern boundaries are marked by Capilano and Dickens, but we have omitted some very remote northern peaks between them (such as Eldee and Bivouac).

In terms of difficulty, you will not find any peaks that require technical mountain climbing skills or ropes. In theory they are all non-technical or less technical (Class 3 or easier); you will not find the Camel, East Lion, Spindle, or Harvey’s Pup in this book. That said, all mountain climbing has inherent danger. Several of these peaks are challenging and risky and should only be attempted by experienced mountaineers; in particular, West Lion, Hanover, Crown N1, and Coburg have considerable exposure where a fall would almost certainly result in death.

We have not included every hill on the North Shore. Mainland peaks must have a minimum elevation (height) of 1000 m, while Howe Sound island peaks, which start closer to the water, have a minimum elevation of 400 m. For mountains, elevation is the less interesting vertical measurement. In terms of climbing effort and isolated beauty, prominence is the key measurement: the distance one must first descend before starting up the next peak. The mountains in our book had to have a prominence of at least 45 m. Between these two measurements, many well-known “mountains,” including beloved hikes such as Dog Mountain and Dinkey Peak, did not make the cut because they were, well, too dinky.

Finally, the peak must have either an official or a more-or-less established name. About half of the peaks surveyed herein have official Canadian Geographic Survey names. The remainder have names that have popular or historic use, either through use over time, or the more recent designation or proposal of a name for a peak. The latter course is sometimes controversial: for some, a mountain must acquire a name organically. We are more inclined towards the bestowing of some name, even an artificial and interim one, for a peak, to render concrete and consistent our conspired adventures, with points of reference. That said, in referring to an unofficially named peak by any particular name, we are not lobbying for that name to become official; we use these names as reference points only, and fully concede that those temporary names may well in the future be appropriately replaced with others. The most prolific recent bestower of names on our local peaks is Robin Tivy, whose bivouac.com provides an encyclopedia of local and international mountains and is itself a wonder of the modern world. We tip our hats to Robin for his great work.

Captain James Bowen (1751-1835)

Our North Shore peaks derive their names from several primary sources, and most tell a story. In and around Howe Sound, most peaks, and indeed most landmarks, commemorate the Glorious First of June 1794 battle at Ushant, off Brittany, where the British Channel Fleet under Admiral Lord Richard Howe (1726–1799) defeated a French revolutionary fleet attempting to deliver grain to the Americas (see Appendix 13 for Glorious First of June names). Captain Vancouver started off this naming tradition even before the battle, in 1792, with two names of persons who later gained greater fame at the battle. Vancouver named the sound after Lord Howe, the British commander, and Mt. Gardner, the tallest peak on Bowen, after Admiral Alan Gardner, a maritime mentor to Vancouver and commander of HMS Queen at the Glorious First of June (see Appendix 17 for Captain Vancouver’s Howe Sound journal entries).

Captain Richards’s 1860 chart showing Gardner, Black, and Crown.

This Glorious First tradition continued 50 years later with the further exploration and surveying of the Lower Mainland’s waters by Captain George Henry Richards in HMS Plumper, a man-of-war, in July and August 1859. Richards was an effective captain and administrator (eventually became an admiral and received a knighthood), and carried out the first survey of Howe Sound and its islands since Captain Vancouver in 1792. Richards was also a very prolific namer of places: he had a keen sense of history and appreciated his own historic role; he even named one of his own sons “Vancouver” Richards. His ship is commemorated by Plumper Cove at Keats Island in Howe Sound. It is a mark of great national, provincial, and municipal shame that almost nothing has been named after Captain Richards himself. (Richards Street in downtown Vancouver was named not after him but after Lieutenant-Governor Albert Norton Richards. Another Richards Street in Vancouver was briefly named after Captain Richards but was renamed Balaclava Street in 1907.) The only coastal feature today in British Columbia named after the captain himself is the uninteresting Richards Channel off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. It would be apt to correct this neglect now, so soon after the 150th anniversary of the Plumper survey.

Most of the place names in and around Howe Sound are tied to the Glorious First. For example, Richards named Bowen Island after Admiral Bowen, present at the Glorious First. Brunswick and Harvey also have their names derived from a ship and a hero, respectively, of the Glorious First. Captain John Harvey of the Brunswick sank the French ship Vengeur du Peuple before succumbing to his wounds weeks later (and, notably, what is more popularly and somewhat prosaically known as Hat Mountain due to its shape has also been called Mt. Vengeur). Captain Harvey is the subject of a memorial in Westminster Abbey, but enjoys an even finer tribute: a pointy peak that is often mistaken for one of The Lions and thatw provides an invigorating climb from both west and east approaches.1 Captain Harvey’s ship at the Glorious First was HMS Brunswick, and to the north of Mt. Harvey is found Brunswick Mountain, the highest on the North Shore.

Subsequent naming patterns went all to hell, however. “Brunswick” was mistakenly attributed to the royal family surname of the present monarch of the United Kingdom and Canada rather than to the ship. Thus, thereafter, other official and unofficial peaks in the area of Brunswick were named after various iterations of the House of Hanover and our present Canadian/British/ German royal family, including Hanover, Windsor, and Gotha and Coburg looming over Deeks Lake (for royal family names, see Appendix 14).

Even Captain Richards himself didn’t stick with the program, and the Battle of Trafalgar creeps into the naming of local peaks. He thus named the entire mountain range “Britannia,” after HMS Britannia, a 100-gun ship that was present at Trafalgar and also St. Vincent but not the Glorious First.

Other themes creep in, with prophets and biblical figures in the Howe Sound Crest Trail peaks of St. Marks and possibly James. In the Fannin Range, Mt. Bishop (named not after the episcopal office in the Church of England and the Catholic Church, but rather after Joseph Bishop, the first president of the British Columbia Mountaineering Club, who died falling into a crevasse on Mt. Baker) led to the later false-etymological naming of Rector, Curate, Vicar, Deacon (Jarrett), and Presbyter (Clementine) after other clerical posts. Still other peak names commemorate the poor animals blasted by early hunters: Goat and Grouse.

Our research unearthed names bestowed on local peaks by the BCMC during early climbs and club trips: Jarrett (Deacon), Clementine (Presbyter), Echo (Perrault), and Rice (South Lynn). We have favoured those older names over more recent, more arbitrary, names, even though, arguably, those names failed the test of time. We prefer names that have a historical tie or anecdote, or were bestowed by early climbers, rather than a later name chosen to fit an imposed theme, like a suburban street plan.

We must acknowledge that many or all of these mountains have or have had names bestowed on them by the First Nations peoples who have lived in this area since time immemorial: the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh/Squamish in the west and north, and the Tsleil-Waututh (formerly called “Burrard”) in the east. As set out in Appendix 16, the authors have extensively researched all popular, archival, and academic sources for Indigenous names of these peaks, including consultation with members of those First Nations. Unfortunately, apart from the traditional name for he Lions – Chee-Chee-Yoh-Hee (“The Twins”) – there are few publicly available traditional names for these peaks under present scholarship. Nonetheless we have included as many traditional Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh names for rivers, creeks, islands, villages, and other places, as well as all Indigenous uses and legends concerning these mountains as could be located. It is hoped that the future will bring more study and writing on this important topic.

As a final note on names, generally where a mountain is named after a person, it is “Mt. X”: Mt. Everest, Mt. Seymour, Mt. Strachan. Where a mountain is named after a thing, it is “X Mountain”: Crown Mountain, Goat Mountain, Brunswick Mountain. Thus a mountain could be Mt. Bishop if it is named after Mr. Bishop (as the North Shore peak is) or Bishop Mountain if it is so named because it looks like a bishop’s hat, or mitre; Crown Mountain if named because it resembles a crown (which it is, even if it does not), or Mt. Crown if named after Mr. or Mrs. Crown. And where a mountain is solitary and skinny or is a sub-component of a larger mountain, it is often referred to as a peak: Leading Peak, Pump Peak.

Finally, we acknowledge that some of these peaks are in the watershed, and that this might be a source of controversy. They are included not in order to encourage people to enter the watershed (and we discourage you from doing so), but rather in recognition that people will climb those peaks anyway, and will climb those peaks at greater danger to themselves and to others and to the environment absent guidance. That said, we have only included those peaks at the periphery of the watershed (Cathedral, West Crown, and Enchantment), and not those deep within (such as Daniel, Appian, Cardinal, and Magic: see Appendix 20). Vancouver is rare among municipalities in, first, having such a vast watershed reserve, and, second, excluding people from the natural beauty of such a reserve. Further, gaining access to these areas is a rigorous enough exercise to filter out the kind of human detritus that would contemplate despoiling the watershed: in all likelihood, only those who revere and respect nature will take the exhausting measures to venture to these areas.

PEAKBAGGING

Peakbagging is the enthusiastic and methodical climbing of mountains, usually in a specific area, following the Scottish traditions described below. Those who climb all delineated peaks are traditionally referred to as “compleatists” (after Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler, a 1653 celebration of fishing, and not due to any simple misspelling). We confess we are enthusiastic peakbaggers who visited many of these peaks for the sole reason that “they are there.” Some alpinists sneer at the concept of peakbagging: that is, encouraging the climbing of unworthy peaks at the expense of more interesting ones, and the frenetic drive towards the destination rather than the appreciative journey to get there. These sins too are acknowledged. But if these sins are recognized, they can be avoided: speed and diligent visitation give more time for contemplation of their beauty.

The idea of peakbagging was popularized by the Scottish mountaineer Sir Hugh Munro, 4th Baronet of Lindertis (1856–1919). Based on his writings (his Munros Tables were first published in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal in 1891) and adventures, alpinists generally recognize 282 Munros in Scotland, defined as those peaks 3,000 feet (914.4 m) or higher and generally regarded as separate mountains rather than subpeaks of larger mountains. Those with a topographic prominence of more than 150 m (492 ft.) are sometimes called “Real Munros.” We acknowledge that not all of the peaks surveyed in this book would be considered Munros, either because they are too low (e.g., Gardner), insufficiently prominent (e.g., Pump Peak), or insufficiently distinct (e.g., North Needle).

For many alpinists, climbing all of the Munros is the quest and adventure of a lifetime: as of December 2017, more than 6,285 climbers had attained a compleat Munro Round. Others have sought to set speed records for ascending all Munros. The present record-holder is Stephen Pyke, who bagged all (then) 283 Munros in 39 days in 2010, at times climbing 12 peaks in a single day. Making this feat even more staggering is that he did so entirely self-propelled, travelling on foot, kayak, and bicycle. His final peak was Ben Hope, near Sutherland. Pyke staggered up to the summit cairn. There he found a surprise left by the previous record-holder, Charlie Campbell, who had hiked up the day before: a note of congratulations and a bottle of whisky.

Ean Jackson encountered a similar moment when he, accompanied by author sherpa Crerar (Senior), bushwhacked up the back side of North Needle, to make Jackson a compleatist climber of all of these peaks. Bloodied and bewildered, they pulled themselves onto the ridge, only to discover their friend Ken Legg with his noble mountain hound Tundra, who had secretly hiked the 9-km Lynn–Needles ridge route to meet them. Champagne was pulled out of a backpack, and cheers sounded all around. These tales epitomize the good spirits of the mountain: kindred souls who know there are few pleasures in life greater than pushing one’s body and soul to the limits, to be rewarded by scenes of geologic and natural beauty, shared with good friends.

OUR WISHES FOR THIS BOOK AND FOR THE PEAKS

Our first wish is for you, the reader, to incrementally set your sights to the infinite adventures and beauties in our North Shore peaks. All of us were casual and unambitious hikers, driven largely by frenetic trail-running into looking beyond the basic North Shore trails to discover more obscure peaks. We stumbled through these adventures, often with minimum information in our heads and maximum blood on our legs. It would have been useful to have some advance intelligence on these routes, and a sense of the relative difficulty of each peak, rather than exposing ourselves to some anxiety and injury in scouting out these adventures. We hope this book will facilitate your gradual growth towards more ambitious adventures.

We will contribute a portion of the proceeds from this book to North Shore Rescue and Lions Bay Search and Rescue, literal guardian angels watching over all those who venture into the North Shore peaks. We strongly encourage you to contribute generously and often to these worthy volunteer organizations, whether or not you have ever needed their assistance in a dark, lonely time.

We hope also that this book will lead to the establishment of more solid trails for some of the more obscure peaks. Already the Bagger Challenge (see Appendix 4) has contributed to wider knowledge of many of these peaks and routes, and the boots and flagging tape themselves have forged new trails (Magnesia, Enchantment, and Apodaca) and revitalized overgrown ones (Indian Arm Trail, the Episcopal Bumps, Jarrett and Clementine, Dickens). While it would be arguably unfortunate to have too polished a trail system, it would be safer and more welcoming if the existing trails formed a better-marked and more cohesive and clear network of trails, with trail posts stretching from Dickens to Deeks. If you have ever visited Boulder, Colorado, you will have admired its hundred-mile-plus trail network that runs throughout and beyond the Flatiron Range overlooking the city. A similar network of trails here could provide greater safety without compromising adventure.

We hope this book will help contribute to a greater appreciation of our local history as well. This history is largely ignored and unknown in suburban North Shore, which assumes itself to be a commuter town with some prior logging activity thrown into the mix. We hope that the mentions of hardy BCMC pioneers, scampering up these peaks in hobnail boots and bloomers, will gird your loins and stifle any whingeing or pangs of discomfort you may have. Similarly, we hope to cast light on the unknown zinc mines in the far North Shore backcountry, and, more anciently, the history of Indigenous peoples in these mountains (see Appendix 16), and the old-growth trees that still survive here (see Appendix 1: Best peaks for old-growth and giant trees and Appendix 10).

Finally, we hope this book will help contribute to an appreciation of the North Shore peaks as a zone of unique natural beauty, so close to a city and yet so wild. The Howe Sound Islands should become a national park or be otherwise protected, to be preserved for generations to come, their peaks, mosses, lakes, deer, and dolphins part of a natural reserve so close to Vancouver as to be Stanley Park writ large. All of the mainland peaks, with their trees, plants, and animals, should similarly be preserved for all generations, resisting the ever-increasing pressure of expanding neighbourhoods and ever-larger mansions with even greater views ever higher up mountain slopes. As for bears and larger mammals, which city-dwellers assume live in abundance on the North Shore peaks, by this book we hope to wave a warning flag that there are fewer animals back there than you think. In our tens of thousands of hours clocked in these mountains, at all times of day and night, we have seen far fewer critters than you would expect (see Appendix 10). We should not be so glib with thoughts that there exists infinite wildlife “back there” such that if a bear or two is shot for rummaging in rubbish bins left out overnight by suburban idiots, it is no big deal. Mountain goats, wolves, elk, and grizzly bears used to inhabit the local mountains and valleys: all but the first of those species are now gone, and even the goats are rare. We’ve driven several dominant animals to extinction in our local peaks, and it can happen again.

Why not go beyond preservation, however, and try to reverse our past transgressions? A May 1923 issue of the BCMC’s BC Mountaineer reported, of Mt. Bishop, that while bears and goats were usually seen on past trips, “both species seem to have been driven away by hunters.” The October 1944 BC Mountaineer quoted a newspaper report from 1914: “Fred Maddison and Charles Mullen shot four mountain goats on Crown Mountain yesterday.” The Daily World newspaper remarked that “Vancouver is the only city on the American continent where bear, deer and goats can be shot within sight of city hall,” and lamented: “No wonder that mountain goats and other wildlife have fled from the coastal area from this unnecessary slaughter.” Two years later the BC Mountaineer noted the marmots playing in Goat Mountain cirque. Today no marmots are to be seen. Elk roamed the alpine plateaus until they were hunted to extinction in the early 20th century. Let us rewild our North Shore peaks with mountain goats, which abounded on Grouse and Goat mountains, on mounts Seymour and Bishop, and everywhere in between. Let us bring back marmot colonies to the scree slopes of our North Shore peaks. Bring back the noble elks. Not only could and would we reverse the excesses of Edwardian hunters, but it would add further beauty to the pleasures of future adventurers and would also be superb for attracting tourist dollars.

The more people gain a zeal for exploring the North Shore peaks, the better these goals can be accomplished. Let joy and virtue unite and flourish in these mountains.

HOW TO USE THE BOOK

The text surveys and profiles the 67 peaks of Vancouver’s North Shore. We have generally followed the same format for each: an introduction to the area and its arterial trails and history, followed by a peak-by-peak survey. Each description starts with a summary of 28 key facts about the peak at a glance. Next is an introduction to the peak, followed by a (non-comprehensive) turn-by-turn description of the route up. Where there are other trails up that are worthwhile or occasionally used, we will include those, although generally in briefer form. The more difficult the peak, the more the book relies on the reader to have appropriate route-finding skills and experience. Do not expect handholding for every peak.

The peaks are surveyed from west to east. We start with the Howe Sound Islands, and then go from north to south on Howe Sound Crest Trail, to the Grouse–Crown and Lynn–Cathedral peaks, and conclude with the Fannin Range above the Indian River and Indian Arm.

At the back of the book, we’ve put together a collection of appendices for deeper knowledge and appreciation of the local mountains:

Appendix 1 provides a bevy of lists – highest, most prominent, most beautiful peaks; best running routes, wildlife-sighting areas, blueberry patches, and swimming holes – to help you plan your next adventure.

Appendix 2 is a glossary of hiking and climbing terminology.

Appendix 3 gives a short history of the British Columbia Mountaineering Club and the Alpine Club of Canada.

Appendix 4 tells of the Bagger Challenge, an annual peakbagging event that drew the authors into exploring these glorious peaks.

Appendix 5 recounts the Tour de Howe Sound, the annual ’bagging challenge of the Howe Sound summits.

Appendix 6 reveals the secrets of whisky bagging in the North Shore mountains.

Appendix 7 similarly discloses the fun of geocaching in these high places.

Appendix 8 recounts the history of cairn building and summit logging.

Appendix 9 explains those “rocket radio towers” such as found atop Gardner, Hat, and Cathedral.

Appendix 10 provides a high-level overview of the most common animals, plants, and fungi you’ll encounter on our local peaks.

Appendix 11 summarizes the geology of the area.

Appendix 12 describes the mighty watersheds of the North Shore and the creeks that drain them.

Appendix 13 transitions into naming history, surveying the captains and ships present at The Glorious First of June battle in 1794, one of the primary sources for names of local peaks.

Appendix 14 is an overview of the family tree of the Wettin–Hanover–Saxe-Coburg– Gotha–Windsor royal family of Britain and Canada, the other main source of Britannia Range peak names.

Appendix 15 details everything you ever wanted to know about the naming of peaks.

Appendix 16 outlines the relationship to these mountains of the two First Nations who have lived there for thousands of years: the Squamish in the west and north and the Tsleil-Waututh in the east.

Appendix 17 reprints the journal entries for Captain Vancouver’s visit to Burrard Inlet and Howe Sound, and his impressions of the mountains.

Appendix 18 provides an 1864 description of Burrard Inlet and Howe Sound based on Captain Richards’s survey.

Appendix 19 digs out some archival newspaper clippings about first ascents and peak names, specifically Seymour and Bishop.

Appendix 20 lists named peaks not profiled in this book, either because they are too technical or lack height or prominence or are deep within the off-limits watershed.

Appendix 21 gives you the best Robbie Burns peakbagging songs and poems, in the grand tradition of whisky, cairns, and Munros.

Appendix 22 contains a comprehensive bibliography of print, internet, and other resources for those hungry for more information.

Appendix 23 lists still-unsolved mysteries as to first ascents, name origins, Indigenous place names and more.

Appendix 24 is a gallery of panorama photographs with peak names.

In Appendix 1 you will find the most important resource: we’ve sorted the peaks into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, and arranged them in rough order from easiest to hardest. In some ways, this book is presented as an incremental mountain education: the local peaks can serve as a gradated introduction to hiking, climbing, and scrambling, with progressively more difficult terrain and routes. Unless you are comfortable completing a peak of medium difficulty, you probably should not attempt a harder one, at least not without a companion whose competence and confidence can guide you through. For example, unless and until you are comfortable climbing Hollyburn, you should not even think of climbing Coburg.

And remember: the difficulty ratings are on a relative scale. A 1/5 score does not mean the route is an easy stroll. Seymour, for example – rated 1/5 – is beyond the fitness level and wilderness competence of most Canadians and is a frequent spot for North Shore Rescue call-outs.

Difficulty is based on perfect conditions: blue skies, perfect visibility, no lingering snow, no rain, no clouds. If the weather is doubtful, do not test your limitations! Even a “beginner” hike can be deadly in the wrong conditions.

HOW TO USE THE PEAK SUMMARIES

We’ve used a “dashboard” approach to give you a concise and consistent overview of each peak before delving into the details. To get the most from this guidebook, we recommend you become familiar with the dashboard. Where there is a scale, we’ve assigned 0 as the worst, or lowest, score and 5 as the best, or highest.

Kathleen Burke (later Crerar) and friends in front of Grouse Mountain Chalet March 30, 1923

The following box shows the general format of the dashboard data. The title gives the name and elevation for each peak. Where the peak is one of the highest, we have also included its elevation ranking.

CAPILANO MOUNTAIN

(CAP) (1692 M #5)

The first line of each information header, formatted like this, contains a pithy description of why you may (or may not) wish to climb that particular peak.

CAUTION:

Highlights dangers, such as cliffs,
technical climbing, lack of trail,
and remoteness.

PROMINENCE:

If you are going between peaks, this is the distance you will need to descend before you start up the next one.

LATITUDE/LONGITUDE:
Location.

BANG FOR BUCK:

(0–5) Quality of peak in relation to the effort involved. 0: punishing and unrewarding; 5: the views, features, and route are glorious enough to justify the effort.

PEAK VIEW:

(0–5) How’s the view at the summit? 0: no view at all; 5: stunning views.

TRUE SUMMIT LOCATION:

Clarifies the precise location of the actual top, for purist or novice peakbaggers.

HEADWATERS:

Rivers and creeks that start their course to the sea from this peak.

BEST VIEWS FROM:

Best places to view the peak from afar.

TRIP INFORMATION

Round-trip distance: Total distance (in kilometres) from the start to the finish. When a peak can only be reached from another peak, this is the longest distance from the start.

Elevation gain: Total distance up from start to finish on the main route.

Time: We have provided a range that includes hikers from fast to slow. If you are especially speedy or particularly leisurely, adjust accordingly. The number in brackets is the actual time of one of the authors, an energetic trail-runner: you can measure your own average speed in “Maurer units.”

Difficulty: (0–5) How much physical effort, technical expertise and navigational skills will be needed? 0: A walk in the park; 5: Experts only.

Snow free: Approximate date each year when the trail is mostly snow-free.

Must-sees: Blueberry patches; swimming holes; cultural modification; big trees, etc.

Scenery: (0–5) 0: nothing but trees and rocks; 5: impressive (old-growth, waterfalls, sweeping vistas).

Kids: (0–5) 0: get a sitter; 5: fun sights and a less technical, difficult, and dangerous route. Needless to say, this assumes kids are accompanied by a responsible, experienced adult; we are not endorsing any of these routes as solo kid trips.

Dogs: (0–5) How suitable is the route for dogs? 0: not suitable; 5: smooth footing and not too steep.

Runnability: (0–5) How runnable is the route (due to steepness, technicality, rolling rocks, or other hindrances)? 0: don’t even think about it; 5: awesome.

Terrain: (0–5) 0: rough, bushwhacking, boulder fields, and devil’s club; 5: lovely trail.

Public transit: Bus number: most routes are from Phibbs Exchange (near Ironworkers Memorial Bridge), Lonsdale Quay (central), Park Royal (west), or Horseshoe Bay (far west).

Cell coverage: How reliable and strong is cellular reception? Don’t depend on this description! Signal strength depends on many factors, including the provider, the device, tree cover, even the weather. Cliff bands, gullies, and valleys block reception. Try to phone from a high point with minimal tree cover.

Sun: How’s the sun on a sunny day on this route? Do you need sunscreen for the whole way, or can you judiciously zip to the exposed peak and back under tree cover before you start to sizzle?

Water: This entry will be in italics where there is no or little water along the route or the available water is not potable. Note: Giardia and related bacteria do occur in the North Shore mountains. While the water may look clean, we strongly recommend you purify or filter it before drinking.

Route links: Can you combine this adventure with a pleasing odyssey to other peaks?

HISTORY

Name origin: How the peak got its name, where that is known.

Name status: Whether official or unofficial (and if unofficial, recent or widespread, i.e., popularly used for a generation or more), and date of adoption.

Other names: Have any other unofficial names been given to this mountain?

First ascent: The first recorded climb to the peak. BCMC (British Columbia Mountaineering Club) members own this title for most peaks. Of course, the likely first ascenders of many of these summits were anonymous First Nations hunters, gatherers, or shamans, or early surveyors, explorers, hunters, or prospectors.

Other write-ups: Repeatedly useful references, abbreviated as:

Gunn = Matt Gunn, Scrambles in Southwest British Columbia (Cairn Publishing, 2004)

Hanna = Dawn Hanna, Best Hikes and Walks of Southwestern British Columbia (Lone Pine, 2006).

Hui = Stephen Hui, 105 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia (Greystone Books, 2018)

Note that other editions of these books may omit peaks or add new ones.

Mountain essay: A long or short overview of the highlights of the mountain, including history.

Routes: We do not attempt to list every possible route up each mountain. Although we provide more detailed directions than most other hiking books, you should not assume that every turn and potentially confusing portion of the route has been mentioned. You will need to pay close attention to your own map and GPS, as well as the trail conditions. Snow, wind, treefall, signfall, logging, and human interference are common on these trails, and trail conditions and directions change every day.

Bagger tips: In the introductions to peak areas and ranges, co-author Bill Maurer has provided tips and routes aimed at the frenetic and energetic peak-bagger for optimizing speed and efficiency in a limited day. These observations are certainly not aimed at the casual hiker, and should only be followed by those with experience, stamina, and focus. The times provided in brackets (in bagger sections, as well as the time entries for individual peaks) are Bill’s own times, to provide a consistent benchmark.

HOW TO USE THE MAPS

Just because a map (in this book or elsewhere) has a line on it, do not assume there is a trail or that the trail is in perfect condition. Some lines indicate a rough route with no flagged trail. Even on marked trails, conditions change all the time: treefall, spring growth, logging, floods, vandalism, and mud can all change trails beyond recognition. Some of the directions provided in the route descriptions and these maps are just that: routes rather than trails. You must be self-sufficient and experienced with compass and GPS, maps, and routefinding skills before you even consider attempting these routes.

DIFFICULTY, TIME ESTIMATES, AND PHYSICAL FITNESS

The baseline for this book is higher and harder than your typical hiking book, and higher and harder, for example, than the classic local guidebooks Bryceland and Macaree, 103 Hikes, or Hannah, Best Hikes, or the newly released 105 Hikes, by Stephen Hui. It is not intended as a general hiking guide with the assumption that every hike will be appropriate and enjoyable for every person. Many of these adventures are only suitable for a very few who have the experience, physical fitness, stamina, and preparation sufficient to survive the long, arduous, hazardous bushwhacks such routes entail. Again, if in doubt be cautious and conservative, and use the list of peak difficulty in Appendix 1 as a means to determine where your limits are.

Time estimates are always difficult. Some readers are frustrated by trip times that wind up being wildly conservative; other, slower hikers may find themselves in peril through an estimate that is more ambitious than their ability. The suggested hike durations and commentary in this book are aimed at a fit hiker with some mountain and routefinding experience. You should calibrate your expectations up or down, as appropriate. We also strongly recommend that you use the list of peak difficulty in Appendix 1 as only a relative measure: do not try a harder peak until you are comfortable with the peaks listed as easier.