Mt Harmston is part of the Cliffe Glacier group of peaks toward the southern end of the Comox Range. It is the 15th highest summit on Vancouver Island and is a popular climb in large part because of its status as one of the Alpine Club of Canada - Vancouver Island Section, Island Qualifiers. The peak appears on the eastern skyline of Strathcona Park as a steep, dark tower with a characteristic sloping southeast ridge. Its relatively remote location and setting high above Milla Lake makes Harmston especially alluring.
Because of its isolation in the centre of the Comox Range access to Mt Harmston is almost equally challenging from either side of the mountain. The most direct route is via logging roads in the Cruickshank and Kweishun Creek valleys. The main issue here is getting through the often locked gate at the north end of the Comox Lake Main logging road. First stop for planning trip to Mt Harmston via this route is to TimberWest's public access blog
. How long this route remains viable is questionable as there is very little timber left in the Kweishun Creek and the road is prone to flood damage so it is likely this road will deteriorate quickly. The next closest route is via the Glacier trail over the Comox Glacier, this route as the same logging road access issues but with eh advantage that the road to the trailhead is likely to remain drivable.
The usual route up Mt Harmston is up the Southeast Ridge. Reach the toe of the ridge from the lower Cliffe Glacier up some loose choosy moraine. The ridge is an easy hike up a nice heather-covered crest. The ground steepness toward the top and the last 50m or so is up a 3rd class gully onto the summit.
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