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THE BEVERLY EXPRESS & Beverly Peaks First Recorded Ascent

      Summer time blues turn out a 1st recorded ascent up the newly reopened Beverly Express over to Beverly Peak

My summer horticultural work practicum at the VIU GR Paine Centre, which started back in May, was coming to an end. Driving back and forth from Nanaimo and having homework to do took up most of my time during the weekdays. On my weekends if I wasn’t working on our water line, I was building up our small Hobby farm consisting of 2 very needy female Dwarf Goats and two Muscovy Ducks which we are still trying to figure out. Needless to say my summer hiking season was next to nil. Luckily I was able to get out at least four times: getting out to do the 5040 loop, Mt Bueby and all its wonderful bush, the Mt Adder loop and finally a 1st recorded ascent up what we hope to call Mt Beverly. This route would not have been possible if not for the hard work from Ron Lepine and Jane Morden. During the spring Ron got ahold of me and said he was wanting to burn off some energy and do some upkeep on some trail of choice or work on putting in a new route. I suggested he could clear out the West ridge of Nahmint as it was a bushy ascent. I then never heard back from him until the middle of August. I received an email from Ron asking me to GPS a new route to the right of the West ridge of Mt. Nahmint that he and Jane had been working on all summer. This route took a B Line straight up to the old weather station just above Beverly Lake instead of connecting to the ridge which ran North up to the false peak due West of Nahmint. I was excited hearing about this new route because I knew of a small peak due South from Nahmint that might be still be unclimbed by anyone in recent memory. I still had some holiday time saved for a rainy day and this was a great excuse to use it up.


   My first trip up there was somewhat a failure due to me taking the dogs. The lower section of the route is hiking up a dry creek bed with steep boulder sections. This proved to be very awkward for my dogs and I was nervous one of them would break a leg so I decided to pack it in and head down. Two days later I was back with Tawney and the dogs were left behind. Leaving the parking spot by 8am, it took us 20min to hike the road to where the route starts heading up the dry creek bed. After 40min of some fun bouldering up a steep dry creek we finally ran into some flowing water. Around here the rocks were slippery and careful footing was needed. Roughly 50m up the water disappeared and then we climbed large boulders up for another 50m. Once above big boulders it was only a short distance before we noticed some flagging (Pink/Blue) heading RIGHT and up into the forest. At first I was confused because I thought the whole route was done in the creek bed. My gut told me to follow the flagging, which proved to be right. Once in the forest I followed the blue and pink flagging and quickly figured we were on route once I saw cut brush here and there. The forest section was steep and sweet. There was lots of bush to hang from, plus one rope at the end of the forest section which was left for folks who might need an extra hand. Please don’t trust it as a lifeline and don’t use it if you don’t need to. Up from the rope the flora changes from Mountain Hemlock to Heather which is a joy to hike up when dry but can be slippery after a rain or heavy dew. After 3 hrs since leaving the vehicle we reached the top of the ridge that connects 5040 to Nahmint and just below the weathered looking Weather station. The biggest bonus was we were also greeted with the awesome vistas of Beverly Lake only 100m below. While taking a break on the ridge Tawney pointed south to a gnarly looking peak in the distance and nervously asked, “I hope that’s not the peak you want to climb.” I first swallowed, bit on my tongue, and under my breath quietly said “yup”. She looked at me and said “you’re kidding”. I sheepishly nodded sideways. She was not impressed. My next come back was “Well it always looks further than it is honey”, followed by a BIG SMILE. Then I said, “At least let’s take a look at it and see if it’s possible”. She agreed so we moved on. The hike around Beverly’s shoreline has always been a favorite and now I think it’s one of Tawney’s too. (6 years prior I was in the same spot but instead started early that morning hiking from Cobalt Lake Trailhead up and over 5040 then across the long ridge to Beverly. My legs were feeling it by the time I’d reached the same spot. The plan then was to hopefully hike up the same peak. Once getting closer I could see a steep bushy 250m descent was required to reach the ridge which led over to a steep rocky bluff which seemed to ring the entire summit cap. Feeling a little tired I choose to continue on and hike over the small bump at the south end of Beverly Lake. I finally finished off by hiking to the highest point on that ridge before turning around and heading back to my vehicle, which was parked way back at Marion creek. That was a long day!) Now 6 years later and still feeling somewhat fresh I was ready to tackle the descent down to its NW ridge. Right where we turned down was a large snag, which made for a good marker for coming back. Hiking down was not as bad as we thought. We only had a couple of bush belays and after 20 minutes the worst of it was over. A bit of route finding was required to avoid the rocky bluffs. Crossing up and over two of them we took a break at a small tarn. From here we got some great views of the cliff bands and steep bushy ledges that protected this peak from an easy ascent. After some thought and feeling unprepared for the challenge ahead I decided to call it for the day. Tawney had no complaints, plus I mentioned we’d be back but with the proper equipment next time.

Profile track for Beverly Peak starting at outflow of Beverly Lake

Beverly Preak Profile

The following weekend we found ourselves hiking up the Beverly Express around the lake, and down the ridge again. This time we had packed ropes and gear so our packs had some weight to them. Feeling strong, we passed by the tarn that we stopped at the week before. I was now in unexplored territory and moving up and forward in hopes of finally reaching the top this time. The going now was getting steeper with the odd bush pull up but mostly climbing low angled rock steps with some exposure. Finally we had reached the start of steep bluffs that had intimidated me so many years prior. We took a break to feel out the area and admire the outstanding panoramic views to the west. On the bottom section, I first took a short bush ramp up to the base of a steep cliff, then veered right and climbed low angled rock up to a wide grassy ledge. Here I first looked right and saw the wide bushy ramp which wraps the cliff. Back tracking left I noticed a steep narrow chimney which was mostly bush filled that headed straight up to another ledge 30m above. Looking back at Tawney I asked her if she felt Ok with the next section and she nodded yes. This was the only really exposed section so care was taken when pulling up on the cedar bows. Once on top of this section all I could see was low angle rock leading right up to the summit. I was now feeling confident we were going to make it but still didn’t want to make that assumption. I was right though, as the last 150m up is nice and sticky low angle rock with only a few moves that I needed to use my hands. Once on the summit a sense of fulfillment came over me. The summer, which I had first taken to be a waste in terms of hiking, now felt like a summer of success. Standing only 1330m at the head of the Beverly watershed, it felt great being able to finally stand on one of the last remaining peaks in the area without a known recorded ascent. I was hoping to run across some signs of the 19th century surveyors but the only signs we found were of ptarmigan. The summit was a huge basalt rock cap with only very little low-lying brush & vegetation. Wow!!! On the panoramic views, all I can say you have to be there to get the full effect. 600m SE we could see another high point so decided to wander over just in case it was higher than the point we were standing at. We also wanted to check out the views down its south face that looked into the head of Clemens Creek that emptied into Henderson Lake. The SE high point ended up being just 30m lower so it was good we went over for the visit. The views did not disappoint us so it was definitely worth the extra effort. No ropes were needed for the ascent and I was hoping we didn’t need them for the descent. The descent ended up being an enjoyable down climb on low angled dry rock, chimneys and narrow ledges filled with bomber cedar bush. It took only 45 minutes to reach the upper tarn. From here it was the somewhat nasty ascent back up the bushy ridge to the large snag, which we could easily see from the tarn. The wind was next to nil and the late summer sun was shining hot down on us making for a sweaty crawl and pull up to the snag above. Down at the lake where it empties we took a nice long and deserved break, soaking the feet and enjoying some needed protein (tin of sardines) to give some strength back into the legs for the 1000m descent. Once back on the trail it took around 2hrs to get down and back to the vehicle. Thank you to Ron Lepine and Jane Morden for all your hard work making this route possible. This will be a seasonal route, and we’re not sure of how long the bridges will be in. However, BCTS is surveying in the area, which makes us believe that there will be access to this area for some time into the foreseeable future. The Beverly Express is a possible day route to access Nahmint, however one still needs to get around the false summit (which in the past has tripped some people up due to some exposure and the need to navigate around some short rock moves).

How to get there??     From Port Alberni head west and gain access onto the logging mainline on the south side of Sproat Lake. Head west towards the Gracie Lake turn-off. Go up and over Gracie Mainline and turn right on to the Nahmint Mainline at the bottom of the steep hill. Stay right again after driving over the Nahmint river"great spot for a dip during the hot summer days" Still heading up the Nahmint mainline, cross over Nahmint river. Head left for a short distance and pass by (N600 " which has the Brooke George Trail at road's end") on the right. Stay on Nahmint ML and take a left turn onto N-700. Drive over one bridge and drive for another 1.5km to a small parking spot that has been cleared just above the second bridge that has been recently condemded. Take the roughly 15min hike up the deavtivated road staying right at all turns. At road's end, a brushed out trail takes you to the dry creek bed. Hike up to 675m, turn right into the old growth, and follow red and blue flagging right up to old weather station at 1230m
Cheers: Quagger

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