The Vancouver Island Alps are a 350km long range of mountains running the length of the world's 43rd largest island off the west coast of Canada. The range forms a typical topographical divide with deep-cut river valleys running to the east and west of the mountains and numerous, intricate high ridges linking the high summits and bounding the watersheds. The highest peaks are just over 7,000ft (2,200m) with 50 summits above 6,000 ft (1,825m). There is a vast amount of terrain at or just above sub-alpine elevations 4,200ft (~1,300m).
Golden Hinde, Strathcona Park, Vancouver Island
For the hiker and casual mountaineer there is a lifetime of wilderness to explore and many great trails to trek and hiking peaks to summit. For the alpinist the Island Alps are a treasure trove of solid rock and adventurous trad climbing. Over 300 technical routes are documented varying in length and difficulty from moderate scrambles to world-class alpine faces over 1,000m high.
The terms "Vancouver Island Alps' has come into use in the last few years but officially, on the map, they are the 'Vancouver Island Ranges'. How the greater range is divided up for ease of describing the different regions is a mix of official Geographical place names and colloquial usage. The following are common mountain groups and sub-ranges as described in local guidebooks and journals. From South to North:
• Southern Vancouver Island - includes: Sooke Hills, San Juan Ridge, Seymour Range, Malahat Ridge, Sooke Hills, Somerset Range, Cowichan Range*
• Central (Mid) Vancouver Island - includes: Mt Arrowsmith group, Mackenzie Range, Maitland Range, Bedingfield Range, Catface Range, McGregor Range, Beaufort Range
• Strathcona Provincial Park - includes: main peaks of the Vancouver Island Ranges, Pierce Range (west of park), Comox Range*
• Northern Vancouver Island - includes: Prince of Wales Range, Halifax Range, Sutton Range, Genesis Range*, Tlupana Range*, Haihte Range, Franklin Range, Bonanza Range, Hankin Range, Refugium Range
Not a complete list.
There are regular scheduled car ferry services linking Vancouver Island to several ports in mainland British Columbia. Daily flights connect Vancouver International airport (YVR) with regional airports on Vancouver Island.
There are several excellent guidebook that are invaluable in understanding the unique character of the Vancouver Island Alps and detailing the many intricate treks and the alpine climbing routes on the technical peaks.
includes over 60 hikes in the following areas: Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, Duncan and the Cowichan Valley, Ladysmith, Cedar, Yellow Point, Nanaimo, the Gulf Islands, Oceanside, Port Alberni and Long Beach.
Covers Great Central Lake to Cape Scott, including the trails and routes into and within Strathcona Provincial Park; Della Falls; Hornby, Quadra, Malcolm and Nootka Islands; Beaufort Range; Clayoquot Sound; Seal Bay and Grant Bay; Raft Cove, Schoen Lake and Cape Scott Provincial Parks; Sayward Forest and Snowden Demonstration Forest; Quadra Island and Campbell River area; Sayward, Gold River, Nimpkish, Port McNeill, Port Hardy, Holberg and Winter Harbour areas. New full colour design on recycled paper.
Island Alpine Select
detailed guidebook to the hiking, scrambling and technical rock and ice climbs on 70 of the most challenging mountains
on Vancouver Island. Around 400 routes in total! In rich, full colour the spectacular Island Alps are clearly illustrated, along with history and sound advice for planning and travelling in the rugged Island backcountry.
the first comprehensive climbing guidebook to the mountains of Vancouver Island and Strathcona Park, BC. Featuring over 275 Island peaks, clearly illustrated by more than 550 photographs showing hiking, scrambling and rock and ice climbing routes - Island Alpine is the Island hiker's and mountaineer's bible.
Island Avalanche Bulletin
Vancouver Island is a popular tourist destination and there are countless options for accommodation from luxury resorts to rustic camping. Inquire locally and search online for more details.