Nine Peaks is a poster perfect peak and is a Vancouver Island alpine icon. As the names suggests it has a jagged summit ridge with a series of small rocky pinnacles jutting out above a gently convex lower glacial flank. Like all the glaciers on Vancouver Island the Beauty Glacier is shrinking annually but hopefully annual snowfalls will keep the mountain's familiar form well into the future.
Nine Peaks is one of the ACC-VI 'Island Qualifiers', due in part to its remoteness. While it has been climbed in a day the summit usually takes 3 to 4 days return trip and requires climbing up and over Big Interior Mountain
on both the outgoing and return leg. Spring is an especially good season to climb Nine Peaks as a ski tour. Not only are the long distances quickly covered on skis but the final climb to the summit is much easier with a full snowpack filling the upper gully.
Access to Nine Peaks is usually from the north from Buttle Lake Parkway via the Bedwell Trail. The mountain may also be reached from Great Central Lake either from the west out of the trialless McBride Creek valley or the east from the Della Falls trail in the Drinkwater Creek valley.
Following the standard route up to Big Interior Mountain
continue toward Nine Peaks by descending the southwest ridge of Big Interior to a col with Marjorie's Load. Descend off the ridge crest and traverse the east facing slope on talus or seasonal snow making a long descending line down to Bear Pass (between You Creek and Della Lake). The pass makes an ideal base camp for an ascent of Nine Peaks.
From You Pass hike up talus or seasonal snow slopes in a left trending line to gain a shoulder overlooking Beauty Lake. From here the route ahead up the glacier can be seen. Turn westward and ascend the north edge of the glacier avoiding crevasses and other hazards aiming for the base of the most northerly of the nine summits. From the base of the 9th peak tracer under the east side of the upper pinnacles to an obvious short wide snow gully. Climb the snow to a narrow col and then to the left (south) up 4th class rock to the summit. 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