Ease of access and proximity to markets means Mt Landale and its neighbours find themselves at the centre of the industrial carnage all to often evident on Vancouver Island. The Cowichan, Chemainus and Nanaimo river valley bottoms and far up every remotely accessible slope have been clear-cut to devastating effect. Intermittent road closures as a result of active logging or simply by reason of neglect can often frustrate access. One day you might arrive at a gated road with a surly custodian who may turn you away. The next day his charming and welcoming brother may be on duty and may greet you with open arms and up-to-the-minute information on current conditions. You take what you’re given in this neck of the woods.
In spite of all this, Mt Landale is well worth a visit. If the approach roads are open and clear, the summit is only two to three hours from the highest point to which you can currently drive. If you ignore the devastation in the immediate area, the southern Island views of mountain and sea are spectacular. The views stretch easily as far as Cowichan Lake, the Sooke Hills and other high points around the City of Victoria, the Strait of Georgia and the mainland. With the right light conditions, Glacier Peak and even Mt Rainier are clearly visible on the distant SE horizon.
I have not yet been able to discover how Landale got its name. Curiously, however, it is known by some as “Landalt".
Getting ThereVancouver Island can be reached by air from Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Calgary and Edmonton to Victoria, Nanaimo, Comox or Campbell River and by ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria on The Coho and on BC Ferries from Vancouver to Victoria or Nanaimo. Public transport on the Island is notoriously poor and anyone arriving by air would be advised to rent a car.
Mt Landale may be approached from the south (Cowichan Lake) or east (Chemainus River) sides. There is some gravel road involved in getting to the access spurs but, generally, a normal 2WD sedan is fine to this point. Progress up the access spur from the east is for high clearance 4WD vehicles only. Progress from the south is by bicycle or on foot only.
Approach via Cowichan Lake.Updated details supplied by pmalavi
The logging road is gated and locked and hasn’t been open to vehicular traffic for a number of years now. Parties wishing to climb Landale or El Capitan from this side must walk or cycle the 6 km gravel road.
Approach via the Chemainus River ValleyApproach on the Island Highway 19. Just north of the Chemainus traffic light on the highway turn west at either Smiley Road or McMillan Bloedel Haul Road. Both lead to Copper Canyon Main. Proceed ~ 1km to the gate and begin your negotiations with the gatekeeper. Assuming success, proceed west on the gravelled but well surfaced road.
At about 35 km from the gate at the turnoff for Reinhart Lake keep left to follow the Chemainus River. The turn is well marked by an old donkey engine.
At ~42 km from the gate, take note of a marked spur “C27” on the right. This is the access for Mt Whymper. At 42.5 km from the gate you will reach a labelled spur “F” on the left. Lock in 4WD here. Proceed up “F” for 5.2 km to the point where the road is washed out at N48° 55.812 W124° 12.803. This approach is festooned with old roads, some viable some not. Refer to the GoogleEarth route picture included and also note the following waypoints. The direction for each turn is noted going up the approach.
At N48° 56.088 W124° 09.563 turn left off Copper Canyon Road
At N48° 55.609 W124° 11.485 turn right
At N48° 55.633 W124° 11.711 keep left
At N48° 55.517 W124° 12.099 keep right
At N48° 55.795 W124° 12.295 stay straight, don’t bear left
At N48° 55.854 W124° 12.703 turn your vehicle around and park
Details supplied by pmalavi are gratefully acknowledged.
Approach via Cowichan Lake.
From the gate at Cottonwood Creek, hike or cycle the gently sloped gravel road staying right at any forks. Ford a creek at 5 km where a bridge has been taken out. Continue for about 1 km (road begins to steepen) then take the first right onto the East Cottonwood Branch logging road. This reclaimed road eventually turns into a trail and switches back a couple of times to arrive at the Lomas Lake trailhead. The trailhead is not signed but relatively obvious (coordinates: N48 57.052 W124 13.882).
From here, the trail to Lomas Lake is well marked with flagging and orange squares on trees. Initially it climbs steeply towards the Mount Service - El Capitan col then heads east traversing the south slope of El Capitan before dropping down to the lake. Follow the trail around the north side of Lomas Lake to the east end of the lake. No set trail exists beyond this point.
Head southeast following sparse flagging (some bushwacking, deadfall, and boulder field crossing), aiming for the base of a notch at the midpoint of the ridge joining Landale and El Capitan. Climb steeply up a tailings pile from an old mine site. Ignore the flagging to the left of the mine (takes you to the El Capitan – Landale col) but continue on talus above the mine towards the notch.
10 m below the notch, turn right to traverse south on a relatively wide bench across the west face of the ridge. Two route options exist along the bench, both traversing across a deep gully. After about 100 m along the bench, angle up to gain the top of the ridge. Continue south along the ridge towards the summit. Staying to the east (left) side of the ridge leads to a boulder field then an easy scramble to the top. Return via the same route.
Approach from the Chemainus River valley.
Start from the point noted above where the approach road is washed out. Cross the washout, where the road resumes, and walk up the remainder of the road for about 4 km to where it ends at N48° 56.307 W124° 13.202. Pick up a well-flagged route here right on the crest of the SW ridge.
A sporting alternative might consist of climbing up the mountain’s south side directly between switchbacks. One such option is shown on the GoogleEarth tracklog above.
Having arrived at the flagged route by your method of choice, proceed north through very minimal logging slash and then northeast through the old growth above.
Depending on conditions, it’s about 1-1.5 hours to the summit from the end of the road. In questionable conditions, care is needed where the route crosses the top of a steep gully under the west face just before reaching the summit block. A slip here – on snow or ice – could have dire consequences.
The summit of Landale has a cairn and a summit register to sign
Descend by reversing the above.
A MapSource GPS tracklog of the road approach and route is available to any reader on request. Simply email or send me a PM.
Red TapeThe whole trip described above is on private land owned by Timberwest Forest Corp. You should consult their website regarding road openings and closings before you go. A very useful number to have is the gatehouse at the entrance to Copper Canyon Road at 250-246-9808.
As always, make sure that you have left a detailed trip plan with someone responsible. The RCMP and the appropriate SAR agency will respond in an emergency but it is up to you to have the mechanism in place that will initiate the call-out process if it becomes necessary.
Camping.Currently there is a ban on camping in the watershed. Mt Landale is generally considered a day trip anyway. Fires are strictly prohibited. Giardia is well documented throughout Vancouver Island, so if you collect any water in the area, sterilise it by boiling or by treating it chemically.
Useful linksFor additional route information refer to Island Alpine – A Guide to The Mountains of Strathcona Park and Vancouver Island, Philip Stone, Wild Isle Publications, 2003, ISBN 0-9680766-5-3
For precise directions get hold of a copy of Backroad Mapbook. Volume III: Vancouver Island
Weather and other considerationsYoubou weather will likely reflect the most accurate forecast for Mt Landale.
For winter trips consult Vancouver Island Avalanche Conditions
MapsThe correct map for this trip is the government topographical map sheet 92 C/16, “Cowichan Lake”. Advance copies can be ordered on-line at this link. Copies are usually readily available in good bookstores and outdoor stores throughout the Island.
Northeast to East
In the foreground right and about 4 km away is Mt Whymper. Click at left.
East to South
The Olympic Mountains of Washington State in the far distance. Click at left.