OverviewMt. Argus is part of a string of 3 peaks including: Red Pillar and Mt. Harmston, West of the Comox Glacier. It's name comes from the Comox Argus, a local newspaper owned by Ben Hughes (who was part of the party who got the first ascent of Red Pillar in July of 1931.
It was first thought that William and Alec Bell, claimed the first ascent in July 1, 1949. Later on, it was discovered that Ralph Rosseau had the official first ascent on August 2, 1947. Another account claims that it's possible a G. Kinney climbed Argus in 1922.
Argus is now climbed by more people as logging has made it easier to access the area.
On July 12, 1959, Syd Watts of the Island Mountain Ramblers led a group of 5 (John Weir, Paul Martinson, Reginald Knott and Harry Winstone) on a trek to Red Pillar via Comox Glacier. As the group was climbing over Mt. Argus a boulder was knocked loose. Harry Winstone was in it's path. As he dodged the boulder, he lost his footing and fell 80ft down the cliff, onto scree where he slid another 500ft onto the ice and down another 1000ft where he came to his final resting spot. When the party scrambled down to him, they found him unconscious but miraculously still alive. Syd and John left for help while Paul and Reginald stayed behind and made Harry comfortable for the final hours of his life. When help arrived the next day, Harry Winstone had passed away.
The group of hikers were all very experienced and safety oriented. But, sometimes, despite your efforts, accidents can happen and mistakes can be made.
Getting ThereThere are a variety of ways to get to Mt. Argus and the Cliffe Glacier area as it is a central hub to many locations Here are some of the approaches:
1. North-East ridge via Comox Glacier. This is the most common route taken.
2. Albert Edward to Comox Glacier route via Rees Ridge.
3. Shepherd Creek route via Tzela Lake.
4. Flower Ridge route via Tzela Lake.
The summit can be reached 2 main ways:
1. North-East ridge. The difficulty can vary depending on time of year. In winter, spring and early summer, you can climb a snow filled chute. In late summer and fall the snow is mostly melted, the gully is more exposed and can be either a class 4 or 5 climb depending on remaining snow.
2. South-West ridge. This is a class 3 scramble up from the Cliffe Glacier.
Mt. Argus blocks easy access between the Cliffe and Comox Glaciers and can either be passed by climbing over the summit or by traversing down and around below the south face.
Red TapeAccess to this area of the park is reached by traveling on active logging and industrial roads. Gates may block access. Contact authorities to get information/access to the areas.
CampingThere are a few flat areas of solid ground surrounding the mountain. Setting up on the snow is probably easiest though.
External LinksBeyond Nootka - A Historical Perspective of Vancouver Island Mountains, Lindsay Elms, Misthorn Press ISBN 0-9680159-0-5
Island Alpine – A Guide to The Mountains of Strathcona Park and Vancouver Island, Philip Stone, Wild Isle Publications, 2003, ISBN 0-9680766-5-3
Strathcona Provincial Park