OverviewYou can see Crown from Downtown Vancouver and from Centennial Park at Simon Fraser University. It is a heavily forested peak that lies NW of Grouse mountain in North Vancouver. Grouse is a popular spot for skiing with locals, it features an expensive gondola ride to the top or a demanding 850m ascent known as the 'grouse grind' to get to the top and gain access to the trails that will lead you to Crown.
Crown is part of the North Shore Mountains, a sub grouping of the Coast mountains. It has two distinctive summits: the north-eastern summit (1497m) or 'camel' closely resembles a crown in shape from the east (thus giving the mountain its name), the main summit is pyramidal and rises up from the mountains rocky spine.
Crown's north side is truly beautiful...it is much more difficult to access but it is all rock with some rated climbs ranging from 5.6 to 5.9. Those who have done it though say those ratings are somewhat inaccurate, a little too disrespectful with regards to the difficulty.
The Grind is frequently closed due to avalanche conditions thusly any back country hiking would be very dangerous to attempt during the winter months. Access to Crown is very limited and should only be attempted by experienced mountaineers who are acquainted with avalanche awareness. During the summer months the snow can still be very deep, up to your waist in places so come prepared even if its very hot out.
It is a beautiful peak that recieves very little traffic compared to Golden Ears or the Lions... two of the Vancouver areas 'other' popular mountains. In the summer months during long weekends it can see a relatively large amount of traffic, so if you are one who seeks solace in the serenity of the mountains... plan to climb it during the week. The views of Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains alone is quite a site. For this reason alone it is a special climb. It is also worthwhile to take some extra time and hike around to the north side of the mountain... its amazing how quickly one can leave behind the trappings of what we call civilisation.
Getting ThereTo get to Grouse mountain follow Georgia Street (from downtown Vancouver) through Stanley Park and across the Lion's Gate Bridge. Take the North Vancouver exit to Marine Drive, then left up Capilano Road for 5 km (3.1 miles). The public transit system also offers regular service to the base of Grouse Mountain every half hour ...you can catch Bus 232 from Phibbs Exchange or Bus 236 from Lonsdale Quay.
Access to the mountain is gained via Grouse mountain as mentioned previously. Once you emerge from the chalet at the top I usually skirt to the left and follow what looks like an old logging trail for about an hour. You then emerge at the top of Dam mountain (1341m) which offers fantastic views of Crown's southern side. From here descend NE to the valley floor (also known as Crown Pass) paying particular attention to trail markers as the trail at this point is easy to lose. Even if the trail is lost simply ascend to the valley floor and head east, the trail is easily picked up within a minute or so. The trail then winds its way up for about 30 minutes or so and then makes it way west towards the summit.
From the top of Dam moutain to the summit of Crown it should take about 1-2.5 hours depending upon your level of fitness, and the altitude gain from the valley floor (Crown Pass) is about 600m or so.
You can also gain access to the North side of the mountain via Crown Pass as long as you are careful to watch for bears and come prepared for wet, cold weather than there should prove to be no problems.
Also in summer there are swarms of sluggish brown flies... they don't bite but they swarm you in the hundreds and can get into your hair up your nose etc... a real pain in the ass, so come prepared with bug spray, I'm not sure it will really do much but its certainly better than nothing.
Red TapeThere are no fees unless you choose to take the gondola ride up and down. Roundtrip it would cost about $25 Cdn (ridiculous price), otherwise you can do the 'Grouse Grind'. No parking passes are required, there is ample parking at the base of gondola and save that many will park on the road that leads up to the parking lot. You should always follow the Golden rule of camping by packing out what you pack in, otherwise there are no specific rules.
When To ClimbIt is most frequently climbed from June to October, and as previously mentioned can be a dangerous summit to attempt in the winter due to avalanche hazards.
CampingI have never really heard whether camping is allowed. I camped on the shoulder one night in a little dell. I think though the mountain is 'crown land' which means it is open for all to use. There are no huts, and if camping beware of black bears, especially females with cubs they aren't used to seeing people and of course can be very dangerous.
Mountain ConditionsThe best way to check the weather is to check Vancouver city or perhaps check Mount Seymour Provincial Park, this may yield more accurate data. Usually though if it is clear in the city the mountains (nearby) are clear too.
Check www.compusmart.ab.ca. I found this on a page entitled extensive moutnain weather forecasts. I checked it out and it has forecasts for all of the parks. Straightforward to navigate as well.
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