Category Archives: Bagger Challenge: Vancouver North Shore Peaks

they bluff with scorn Suicide remarks are torn

Five short companions and I conquered Suicide Bluffs, the newest addition to the Bagger Challenge.

Although not marked on official Mt Seymour trailposts, and cautioned on various maps as an “undeveloped route”, the route is easy to find.

Two approaches: north of the Dog Mountain terminus (trail easy to find; leads to three steep climbs to the three highest bluff viewpoints); and off the main Seymour Mountain Trail, in a clear trail past a boggy tarn before Brockton Point.

The trail makes a good loop trail with the ‘official’ Dog Mountain trail. The quick-and-dirty approach is an out-and-back via the Seymour main trail. The longer and more satisfying climb goes via Dog Mountain, past pleasant views of Vancouver, the Seymour River valley, Cathedral, Grouse and other peaks, multiple small murkish lakes, bolete mushrooms, and some impressive old-growth cedars and Douglas Firs.

The peak is the second peak, immediately north of Second Lake.

It is not an easy climb for children, but my companions (those on foot aged 8 to 12) survived with minimal grumbles, with pride and joy at the viewpoints. There are fearsome cliffs at the north side of the peak, into the Suicide Creek Valley, that children should not approach.


Bowen #2 & #3: Apodaca & Collins

After Mt Gardner, the two other Bowen Island peaks are Apodaca (SE) and Collins (NE).

Both have easy ways and hard ways to their summits. On their easy ascents, they make pleasant bike-and-hike adventures.

Apodaca’s intuitive but difficult way is from the west, and then along the ridge. The crack team of Jackson, Conroy & Crerar had a soggy nasty time climbing over massive blow-down, cliffs, and deer cadavers.

The easy Apodaca way to to take Grafton Road (Bowen’s main artery, flowing from the ferry to the west side of the island) to Harding Road. Cross Grafton and go south and uphill. Another access point is just to the south of Harding, at a gate marked “1042” with a junkyard and abandoned trailer on a grassy meadow. From there, a network of logging roads of various widths leads up to the forest proper. Then a gentle bushwhacking past a few steep bits and cliffs will lead to the peak, marked by a lovely carpet of multihued moss, a considerable tree rootball, and a pointy rocky cairn. Through the trees one can see Gardner.





Glorious Gambier: newly added Bagger Peak: Burt’s Peak

Gambier Island’s fourth peak, Burt’s Peak (GBU), is located in the northeast quadrant of Gambier Island, above Brigade Bay, to the north of Mt Artaban.  It is a decent 525 metres tall, with a prominence of 485m from Mt Artaban. 

Although a lightly-flagged trail exists, the peak is little visited or known. But it is a worthy and enjoyable climb.


You can access the peak either from the south or the north.

From the south, take the well-established Burt’s Bluff Trail (faded green trail markers), which climbs uphill to the north from the connector trail between Mt. Artaban and Camp Artaban. After a steady climb, the trail travels along an old logging road running between two bumps: the scenic vista of Burt’s Bluff (left) and Burt’s Peak (right). Travel another 200 metres or so along the logging road, past some cliffy bits, until you see a natural route jagging sideways up the rock. Travel upwards on a steep but manageable slope (very minor bushwhacking: there is minimal undergrowth). Pass over three flattish washes that look like old logging roads. This will lead to another pair of uplands: go left (although the right also has flagging). This leads to an obvious peak, covered in the beautiful and abundant moss that Gambier is rightly famous for. From the sunny and tranquil peak, there are pleasing views of the Howe Sound Crest Trail mountains. Map.

From the north, a (now) well-flagged ridge climb starts at the north end of Lost Lake. Climb steadily southwards to the peak.


Instead of risking your neck on a snowy peak, go to Gambier and do a circle tour of Burt’s Bluffs, Burt’s Peak, and beautiful Lost Lake.  The amazing Gambier Island Trail network map will be invaluable.


The ambitious can combine it with an ascent of Artaban as well. Take a water taxi from Horseshoe Bay to Halkett Bay ($25: Cormorant Marine) for Artaban or to Brigade Bay (probably a little more expensive) for Burt’s Peak.


More travel options:

Mercury Launch & Tug has regularly-scheduled trips to various points at the south end of Gambier Island, and back to Horseshoe Bay. 604 921 7451

BC Ferries runs a small ferry between Langdale, Keats Island, and New Brighton.

Gambier Water Taxi (based in New Brighton) can ferry you across to Langdale from Gambier Island: 604 740 1133


Cowardly Lion

I did a post-Challenge bag of West Lion yesterday.  As glorious as the views and day were, the climb is not recommended for casual baggers without climbing experience and/or ropes and psychological fortitude. It would be crazy to attempt it in anything less than perfect weather conditions: a hint of rain or ice would make the traverse very unpleasant and dangerous.

The scariest part of the climb is at the base, where one must traverse east along a series of 75 cm-wide shelves that slope gently towards a near-certain deadly fall on the rock slopes 45 metres below.

Until October 2009, there was a fixed steel cable line along this portion. Although it would have been foolish to lean on the line for support, it provided some reassurance. The line was cut down last October:…

As it is no longer within the target range (“peaks requiring a non-technical class 3 scramble or less, with minimal exposure for a careful person in good conditions”) it will be removed from the contest next year (or at least demoted to unofficial status).

DePencier Bluffs

The newest bagging peak, de Pencier Bluffs, is a very pleasant adventure for the younger bagger or a bagging trail runner alike.  It makes for a very agreeable post-work bag, ideally on a sunny day. The eastern side of Seymour, with lakes, tarns, bluffs, and blueberries, and a rabbits warren of runnable trails, is not often explored but well worth it.

De Pencier Bluffs is the easternmost peak in the Seymour area: two peaks to the east of the Mystery Peak Chairlift, and due south of de Pencier Lake. A Seymour area map can be seen here at the DNV’s reduced but still useful mapping website:


Avoid the typical boring approach up Seymour via the gravel road. Instead, start just to the right, in the trees, on a well-marked single-track path up to Mystery Lake. Say hello to the salamanders, venture forth on Salamander Island, and eat some blueberries, before continuing NE around the lakeshore and up slope along the same main trail.  After a while, a smaller but well-flagged trail heads up and to the east: from here, it is an easy ascent to the summit of the Bluffs. There is an unusual view of Indian Arm and Bunzten Lake, as well as fine views of Mt Baker, Vancouver, dePencier Lake, Mt Seymour, and Brockton Peak. You can make it a loop by heading back to the main trail, and then continuing NW to the bottom of the Brockton Chairlift, and beyond to the Mt Seymour main trail.

The Most Rev. Adam de Pencier, Bishop of New Westminster and later Metropolitan of British Columbia, 1910-1940


Just say no to Mt Perrault

Mount PerraultHeight: 1389m

Caution: Remote! No trail! Steep! Some exposure!

Round trip distance: about 30K

Prominence: 259m

Difficulty: 5/5

Terrain: bushwhacking

True peak location: at end of ridge: nowhere else to go.

Peak view: 3/5 unusual view of Crown Mtn. backside and Needles

Scenery: 3/5

Kids: 0/5 do not bring children (or adults for that matter)

Dogs: 1/5 (only if the dog has been bad)

Runnability: 1/5 (but Hanes Valley and Lynn Headwaters approach trails are 5/5)

Access: bus or car to Lynn Headwaters Park

Cell coverage: on peak

Route links: could do a sweep with Crown and Grouse Mountain, but Perrault is far apart.

Name origin: Charles Perrault, populariser of fairy tales

Watershed: source of Healmond Creek, and many tributary creeks of Hanes Creek.

Other write-ups: none

Charles Perrault, the eighteenth century father of the then-new literary genre, the fairy tale, first published one of the most primally terrifying stories of all time, Le Petit Chaperon rouge (aka Little Red Riding Hood).  His namesake North Shore peak, however, far transcends that tale in terms of grueling horror.  Its superlatives abound: highest concentration of devil’s club on a bagging hike; worst underbrush-lacerated legs; loudest scream when entering bathtub; highest concentration of pine needles left in tub.  It does have some pleasant features, as described below, and on a clear day (which I did not receive for my pains) there would be some interesting views of the backside of Crown Mountain. And one gets to bag probably the most obscure and remote North Shore peak. But it will be removed from the Baggers Challenge next year, because I wouldn’t wish the hike on my worst enemy.


There is no trail: it is a long exercise of bushwhacking and route-finding. Don’t even think of doing this hike unless you have good route-finding skills and/or a powerful GPS with map.

Now that we’ve stoked your appetite to hike Mount Perrault, the route description.

Perrault is located on a bushy ridge of peaks travelling east and northeast from Crown Mountain; its name probably refers to the nickname for West Crown, in the opposite direction, which is also known as Sleeping Beauty, another tale popularised by Perrault.

Approach is via the wonderful and runnable Hanes Valley Trail, accessible via the Lynn Headwaters Park to the east and the Grouse Mountain-Crown Mountain trail to the west. This trail description is from the shorter route, from Lynn Headwaters.

Go along the Cedar Mills Trail and the Lynn Headwaters Trail to Norvan Creek. Cross suspension bridge. Go west along Hanes Valley Trail. Go past the Lynn Lake Junction. Cross a large creek on log. Go about 1.5K west on Hanes Valley Trail. Start the ascent by hiking up one of two (dry in August) creek beds. The larger, east creek (shown on most maps as having three tributaries), dead-ends at a waterfall, at which point you will want to scamper up to the ridge on your left and start the long bushwhack straight up. The narrower, west creek, is flagged with three strips of bright green tape on a tree in the middle of the creek.

(If on the Hanes Valley Trail approach you hit the western rockslide area leading up to Crown Pass, you’ve overshot the creeks by about a kilometre.)

On either approach creek, trundle up until you tire of creek climbing, and then trundle up to the ridge between the two creeks, and then go up, up, up.

Again, there is no trail, so it is a game of follow-the-contour lines. Burning Boot of ClubTread (see his excellent report: describes it as finding the path of least resistance, and this approach is the best guide, and certainly doable (although there are extended stretches of gritting one’s teeth and ascending through endless vertical bluffs of blueberry bushes: your arms will be more tired than your legs after this hike).

After a long while one hits a less steep section. Here there was copious bear scat (as there was on much of the hike). There was also, intriguingly, a pile of mining core samples (hinting as to the location of Ean Jackson’s elusive Tunnel of Love mine?) and, nearby, the ruins of a long-term campsite, with cast-iron stove, wash-bowls, an hand-mixer, and metal barrels galore.  All in the middle of bloody nowhere, at the top of a very nasty climb.

From here, one can traverse the slope to the right, leading up to the ridge (and a nasty hanging valley on the right). Alas, it is a thickly vegetated ridge, so one has little sense of being on a ridge, and there is no view. Then one turns left, traversing the left slopes of a minor peak to the south of Perrault (summitted by Burning Boot in his report). The contour lines would indicate that this west traverse is a fairly wide flat traverse, but it is for the most part a cliff-hanger (sore arms, again).

Eventually one comes to a rocky landslide area. One can scamper up it, veering to the left, leading to a heather meadow. Then down and to the right a bit, into the saddle between the peaks, before climbing again to start on the long, slow ridge leading up to Perrault proper.

This nasty heavily-vegetated bushwhack is alleviated by a few heather/snow  fields, but also requires multiple vertical frontal assaults on ramparts of blueberry bushes.

Eventually there is more rock underfoot, and a scamper up a crumbly rocky knoll. Continue north along the ridge, now pleasantly covered with heather and short pines. A final easy climb up rocks leads to the heather-dotted peak, marked with a very very small cairn. To the north-east across a deep valley is the Perrault sub-peak, mere metres shorter.

The nasty descent is alleviated, both in terms of beauty, as well as a natural fall-breaker, by several groves of old growth trees.






























Perrault from Grouse Mountain Eye of the Wind Windmill

(wedge-shaped peak in middle, to the right of and behind Goat Ridge)






















West access creek (note flagging tap)














East access creek
























view south from West access creek










mining core samples, way up high














remants of camp














remnants of bear























cloudy peak













three sisters: Old Growth on main slope up from Hanes Valley Trail