Big Den Mountain is a hulking lump of flat-topped basalt overlooking the west arm of Upper Campbell Lake on the north side of the Elk River valley corridor. Its close proximity to Highway 28 should make it more popular than it is but since the logging road on the north side of Upper Campbell Lake was decommissioned in the 1990s figuring out a new approach has taken some time. Now that's done (and it works very well) Big Den may gain a little more traffic.
The outstanding features of Big Den for climbing are the long pronounced buttresses and gullies on the northeast face. The rock climbing potential is good but the winter ice climbing potential is outstanding - very much in the vein of classic Scottish terrain.
Big Den Mountain can be approached directly from Highway 28 immediately west of the Elk River Viewing Area parking lot and the highway bridge over the Elk River. Drive west of Campbell River on Highway 28 keeping right at the Buttle Narrows bridge and continuing toward Gold River. Past Lady Falls is a BC Parks parking lot signposted as the Elk River Viewing Area (don;t confuse this with the Elk River Trail parking lot). Park and walk down the highway heading west across the bridge over the Elk River.
The best route to climb to the summit of Big Den is via the southwest ridge directly from Highway 28. From the highway on the west side of the Elk River bridge head northward into the forest. Keep close to the river and note the confluence of Idsardi Creek joining the Elk River in just a few hundred metres. Look for a safe place to cross Idsardi Creek to the east side and then strike up the hillside heading northeast along the prominent southwest ridge of Big Den. The ridge is basically followed all the way up tot eh summit plateau.
Backcountry camping within Strathcona Park must be more than 1km from a road. Otherwise the considerations are as for all backcountry overnights: practice strict leave-no-trace, don't flag or otherwise mark any hiking routes and remember that no fires are permitted in Strathcona Park backcountry at any time of year
regardless of the Provincial Fire Ban status.
Guidebooks & Other Links
Local guidebook Island Alpine Select