Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, BC, CANADA
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It took me about 1 hour to get packed and ready to go, I also took along some extra clothing due to the frosty weather. Just after 5:00am my two dogs (Hawk and Opus) and I were off to hike up the standard route of Mt Klitsa. Mt Klitsa at 1635 meters is the second highest peak in the Alberni Valley. Mt Arrowsmith is the tallest. I had a 45-minute drive before I arrived at the place to park my truck. If you're leaving from Port Alberni you would want to get on Highway #4 which takes you to Tofino or Ucluelet, the highway winds down the north side of Sproat Lake. When you get to the end of the lake you will see an intersection with a gravel road on your right and on your left, take the one on your left then immediately turn right. You will parallel the highway for a bit then turn south and cross a river which is called the Taylor River.
[*1*] Once across the bridge take a right turn and only about 100 meters up the road you will see another road coming in from your left, turn up this road only if you have a truck or you don't mind a few rock chips and scrapes off the oil pan, or you could just park off the road somewhere. If you choose to drive up the road you will save about a 15-20min walk, look closely for a small sign on your left side that says "KLITSA TRAIL". There's a good place for about four vehicles to park on the other side of the road. The first part of the trail isn't really a trail but a gentle walk up an old logging road, this part can take any where from 30-45 minutes. You will know you are at the trail-head when the road disappears into thick brush and there's a major creek with no bridge. You shouldn't have a problem here, just look for flagging tape on the upside of the road. [*2*] This part of the trail follows beside the main creek that flows out of the Klitsa basin, about 10-15 minutes and you should be in the virgin timber at a nice flat spot to have a drink and some high energy food before you head off into the timber. The trail in the timber is quite straight forward it winds up and over big boulders some the size of small houses then up some small bluffs. After 30-45 minutes you should start getting some nice views of Mt Klitsa (that's if the weather is cooperating.) The trail is fairly easy going here but only for a short while. Just before you start up the last hill you get an awesome view of the North Face of Klitsa. It is an enjoyable snow route in the late spring. [*3*] This is another good spot to take a quick break before you start up the last but steepest part of the lower trail. You gain about 330 meters in about 1km. My secret to hiking up steep sections of trail is to just focus my attention on my foot placement and not to look up to see how much further I have to go, and before you know it you're at the top. Hey it works for me! Once at the top of the hill you will see the first lake. Here you will have a choice of what you want to do. If you are camping you're lucky because you're here, just follow along the right side of the lake and you will come across a nice campsite. [*4*] I hope you brought your fishing pole cause the fishing is great and the fish always taste better when you're camping. If you're like me and just out to bag a peak, make sure to get on the left side of the lake to pick up the main trail to the summit, and not like me who took the right side of the lake and had a major bush-whack down the side of the lake and some scary moves to get over the headwall to gain access onto the north ridge. Take my advice this is not a nice way to go. When I finally got onto the Ridge it wasn't long before I picked up the main trail. [*5*] Here was where I took a short pit stop, the snow was getting a little deeper and I was coming up to a nice looking headwall. The snow made it easier to find a route up this part of the ridge but I still had to be somewhat careful to keep an eye out for hidden ice under the snow, I'm going to make it a habit to pack my crampons more often, seeing that this was a good time to be wearing them. The snow depth was the thing that kept me going, as long as I could kick deep steps in the snow I felt quite comfortable plus the dogs were having a great time. The wind was now starting to become the next thing Mt Klitsa was to throw at me. The gusts sometimes were almost strong enough to blow me over, so with the snow now over my knees the wind gusting at 60-80km., and not being able to see more than 50 meters ahead of myself, this 1635 meter peak, small by some standards was acting more like a peak over 3000 meters. During a quick break between wind gust and snow squalls I was able to get a view of the summit ridge. [*6*] I was about 30 minutes away from reaching the top. Time to put the head down and slog my way up a small snow gully aiming to end up at the bottom of the summit rock-cap. On this last section just below the summit you have to find yourself a way up this 50 meter rock cliff, the easiest way I found was to go up a small gully on the left side of the cliff. In the summer time it's an easy scramble up on dry rock, now in the start of winter with no crampons on the last 5 meters a frozen sheet of ice it was a little different, I had to do some route finding on the rock and snow just to the left of the gully, a little bit more exposed, but still fairly simple. Now the wind was really howling, I was just minutes away from the summit but I couldn't see it. The visibility was less than 10 meters and all I could see was white, so I had to be careful not to go close to the north side. One step and your flying for a good 500meters or so. There she was, the summit cairn, Yahoo!!! Brrrrrr!!!! I signed the register quickly and in that short amount of time my fingers were frozen so there was no summit shot this time (it would have been just a white picture.) The decent was fast and quite uneventful except for running into 3 young hikers on they're way up to camp at the first lake. Then they were going to try to reach the summit the next day. Once down on the old logging road my knees were telling me they had had enough for the day so I hobbled down the road and was as glad to see the truck as my dogs were. The whole days trip which was, up to the first lake around it, up to the second lake then up on-to the main ridge to the summit then back to the vehicle all in 6hrs.Cheers: Quagger
I am writing this trail update for Mt Klitsa due to recent changes in the road access and trail conditions. To start of with the main bridge which crossed over the Taylor River has been removed due to vandals so reaching Br552E from South Taylor Main line has to done now by staying on Highway 4 untill crossing over Taylor River just past Rest Area. Then take the first left onto South Taylor Main line. Drive east on main line for 5km take a right onto Branch 552E. This used to be an overgrown logging for years but just recentlly it has been reopen due to a Micro Dam project which is in the process of getting setup. Since then the company has now cleared the road section to within 200m of the trailhead. It has now caused some confussion has to were the trailhead starts. Most folks unfamilar with the area are spending their time looking for the trailhead at roads end but in fact one has to bush whack for another 200m up the abandond road that never got cleared. I was just up there Nov 5/08 and have reflagged the 200m bushy section to trailhead so hopefully this will help confusion. Any question please don't hesitate to drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org