A relatively long climb through a brief phase of logging slash and a longer one of old growth forest above to exit onto the open north ridge at ~1,000 metres elevation. Thereafter, lovely ridge hiking to the summit. Cornice hazard may bar access to the summit ridge in some conditions.
North Ridge/Face Approach
Drive west out of Port Alberni for about 40 km, along the north shore of Sproat Lake, across the Taylor River at the end of the lake and finally up Sutton Pass. Immediately after the elevation sign (175m) at the top of the pass, watch for a gravel road on your left (south). It forms a V junction with the main highway. Turn up here and engage 4WD.
The road end is flat with plenty of room to turn around and pitch several tents. Water is only a few metres away down the hill if you need it although it's probably more convenient to haul a barrel in with you.
You’ll spot flagging as soon as you enter the trees if not before. For the first hour or so there’s also quite a distinctive path – at least by Island standards.
Proceed south steeply at times but on occasions over flat or only gentle uphill terrain. After about 30 minutes at an elevation of 755 metres you reach a well flagged route junction. The “old” route goes down and to the right and crosses the river at this point. Go straight on for the preferred “new” route. Coordinates at this position are: N 49° 16.35' W 125° 19.8'.
Continue south and up through the forest. Depending on conditions and season, this will involve crossing and re-crossing the increasingly convoluted streams that run down the valley. If you’re in luck, snow bridges will be in place. If not, you’ll find yourself climbing up and down vertical 2-3 metre snow walls to get down to and across each stream.
Once in the alpine resume a southerly course. Low down the north ridge is broad and may be quite featureless if there’s snow on the ground or if visibility is low. As you approach the summit block, however, the ridge narrows and you really only have one place to go.
In summer climb easy slopes to the summit ridge at the most convenient point. In early season prepare to risk the cornices that bar access to the ridge or let discretion be the better part of valour and call it a day at this point. In between times the cornices may have fallen off and you’re left with a 3-5 metre high wall at the shear point. Climb it at any low point you can find to attain the ridge.
Once on the ridge, turn left (east) and walk up to the top. The east summit is only higher than the west by a couple of metres. Take care on the summit ridge if you spot shear cracks indicating unsupported snow.
Descend the way you came up. The round trip takes 10-12 hours car to car.
See attached trip report.