Big Interior Mountain is located on the mountain divide between the Drinkwater Creek and Bedwell River valleys in the southwest area of Strathcona Park. Big Interior is a popular summit because of its relatively low technical difficulty, easy access via the Bedwell trail and its importance as part of the route to the alluring Nine Peaks
Although its glaciers are shrinking there is still some significant ice on the northeast side of the mountain that needs to be negotiated to reach the summit by the standard route and the mountain as a whole is clearly shaped by glaciation with several deep-cut cirques.
Access to Big Interior Mountain is via the Bedwell Lake Trail. The trailhead is reached via Highway 28 from Campbell River and south along the Buttle Lake Parkway to the west side of the Thelwood Creek bridge. A gravel road heads off the paved road continuing south on the west side of Thelwood Creek. The road services the mine's hydro system from Jim Mitchell lake, it is steep in a few places but is usually drivable with good 2 wheel drive vehicles. The trailhead is clearly signposted with an information board, parking and outhouse.
Hike the Bedwell Trail up to the main camp site at the south side of Bedwell Lake. From the camp take the well-worn path up hill heading south up a forested ridge. The path reaches a small, fast moving creek draining through a narrow, gun-sight notch. Leave the path which keeps to the left (east) of the creek and cross the creek immediately where the path comes close to it. A steep scramble up eroded gullies between small rock outcrops leads up onto a rocky ridge west of Little Jim Lake. Continue hiking up this ridge following the tread as it trends slightly to the right (southwest). As the terrain steepens and some higher granite bluffs come into view follow the cairned tread right (west) along a descending traverse down a ramp. At the bottom of the ramp there is a little exposure getting off the ramp and onto the rocky ledges above the Big Interior northeast cirque. The mountain is now completely visible and the route ahead laid out.
Descend the rocky ledges with a little bushwhacking through a patch of slide alder and follow a small creek down the slope to the flat-bottomed base of the cirque. Cross the base of the cirque directly, heading west to the moraine and large creek flowing from the remnant glacier. Keep to the right (north) side of the creek and ascend a well-travelled tread up the moraine toward the glacier. Depending on skills, experience and available equipment consider roping up to travel across and up the glacier and exercise caution route finding on the ice, there are crevasses and other associated hazards.
Cross the lower glacier bowl to the obvious granite rock rib running northward, down from the central summit. Gain this rock rib and ascend it until it peters out in the snowfield/glacier under the north side of the central peak. Keep right and cross the exposed slope ascending the glacier to a flat area adjacent to the east ridge of the main summit. Exercise extreme care on this part of the glacier there are some huge crevasses and other deep snow and ice features here, often hidden by relatively thin layers of seasonal snow.
Gain the narrow crest of the east ridge and follow it up to the main summit. There's a little loose rock along the ridge but otherwise apart from the exposure, no technical difficulty. Descend the same route.
Backcountry camping within Strathcona Park must be more than 1km from a road. Camping fees apply for this area - see details at the Bedwell Trail parking lot. 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