Welcome to Islandhikes Hiking Page. Below is a " Topo/Image Map", with the GPS track route when ascending/descending the South Face of Victoria Peak
Click - 'Yellow/Black Dots' along route
Date: July 31st 2004
The last time I had visited this area was with the whole family in late fall of 2001 hoping to do Victoria Peak (class 4) West Ridge. I had heard there was a hiking route up, once getting close I was aware I was well misinformed, the hiking route looked more like a major ordeal requiring ropes to do safely. So instead we chose to hike up the more laid back South Ridge which unfortunately ended at a deep notch which split the ridge from the South and West Face. As there was no easy way down, we were forced to turn around and head back the way we came. All in all it was a good trip and I said to the mountain that I would be back for another try some day.
It took almost three years before I found myself once again driving up the W-79 branch towards Victoria Peak South Ridge (SR) trailhead, this time more informed and better prepared. Steve [A.K.A.] "No Sweat"; a friend who joined me on the Red Pillar blast trip had drove up the following day from Parksville and had planned on camping on the ridge near a small tarn 1525m. I was doing my usual day trip, so I left Port Alberni at 1:30am giving myself amble time to meet up with him by 7:30. The drive started of by taking 30 minutes longer than expected, reason being I had totally forgot about the last hill being full of deep cross ditches "4x4 only". I'd hoped to start hiking before 6am, but as it went is was closer to 6:30 by the time I finally hit the trail. The SR-trailhead is marked by two medium sized rock cairns right on the left roadside on the last switchback of W-79, it first follows up the left side of an old logging slash for about 75m before heading left into the timber "look for pink flagging". Now in the timber I easily picked up the main trail which leads me to the ridge top. This lower section winds gently up through low lying berry bushes before opening up into sub alpine meadows with good views of the peaks to the West. Once on the ridge I hiked over a couple of small bumps before arriving at Steve's camp-site just after 7 o'clock. He had slept well the night before and had been up since 5:30 wandering around the ridge waiting for my arrival. So after a quick cup of Java we packed up and proceeded to head up the right side of the ridge. The planned route that day was the South Face (SF) and we were told the best way to approach this was to stay on the right side and follow the rocky ledges up to 1828m. On the way we came across numerous rock cairns here and there so no navigating was needed. From there it was now a short descent across the south side of Victoria Peak's lower snow field. At the time the snow was not quite soft enough to bury our heels into so we decided to pull out the crampons for the short plod across to the upper most rock ledge. We took the crampons off here and continued hiking on the far side which cut easterly below the cliffs of the SF. The ledge had good exposer in spots but with all the green belays around it made us both feel quite comfortable crossing. At the end it opened up to a multicolored talus slope, crossing over it we then headed north scrambling up rocky ledges to top out onto the East Ridge. Once on the ridge we got our first views of the awesome SF of Warden Peak Whow!! What a sight it was. Now heading easterly over a blocky ridge towards the infamous step that I heard most folks roped up for. We carried nothing but good faith, in hoping to find a reasonable way over this 10m vertical wall. After a quick peak around I noticed a sweet route which required only two "low class 5" moves using a 3cm crack for hand holds plus one good foot hold. There was one draw back it had "good exposer" but with all the caving we had both been doing lately the two moves proved to be "No Sweat" to conquer and once on the top it placed us onto a small landing about 1m x 1m. I then proceeded to keep climbing another 8m straight up to the top but later found a better way off this snotty section. Instead of going straight up from the small landing look for a small ledge approximately .75m wide heading in a westerly direction for about 10m after that it opened up onto a wider less exposed ledge. Turning North West we headed up a small ramp that ended up at the bottom of a small cliff band. Now we turned westerly while picking a way across a small boulder field before turning North West once again and ramping up to the base of the Victoria's false peak. Looking behind me I noticed Steve was just out of sight so I call out and could hear him behind me off to the side. Knowing he was not directly below me I then picked a way across the loose rocks high on the upper SF. Slowly trending north/westerly at all times as I was warned about the false peak to the east. Finally reaching the last section I was glad to see it was nothing more than a couple of boulder moves to the summit ridge, from there it was a very short scramble to the summit. Looking at my watch I was surprised to see it was less than 3hrs prior that I was at Steve's camp looking up at our day's adventure. This time calling back to Steve I heard his reply but could not hone in on his exact location. As it now sounded he was calling from further away than last time puzzled me some what so I called back again. This time trying harder to pick up on the direction of his voice, I then spotted him heading up a part of the East Peak. So I quickly called back saying "Where Ya Going Bud?" By this time he had already climbed a steep chimney and was now in the middle of climbing a vertical wall that lead nowhere. Now realizing he was off track a wee bit and knowing he now had to down climb what he had just ascended, I'm sure made his heart pound a bit faster. Oppps... Luckily 10 minutes later Steve arrived on the summit with big tales about his adventure. While standing on Victoria Peaks summit I then realized how much higher we were from the surrounding peaks. So need I say the panoramic views are something else other than breath taking.
On the descent we ran into another party coming up the steep step. Almost half of them turned around complaining the exposer being too much for them and how life meant so much. "Hey I can relate" So for all of you out there who come out to try and bag this Peak, only to get freaked out over the exposed surroundings. Don't feel bad cause you're defiantly not alone, just go with you're gut feeling.
As the old saying goes "If it feels good Do It!!"How to get To There??
Port Alberni Info Center/Victoria Peak South Ridge Trail Head (4.5/5.5hrs - approx. 275kms one way)
Drive East on Hwy 4# to the Vancouver Island's inland Hwy. Then head north and drive up to Campbell River far end. Turn West on Hwy 10# towards Gold River, turning right just before the township and head up the Old Inland connector Hwy which comes out at Woss. Drive this road for 11.5 km. before turning right and then drive yet another 20kms towards Twaddle Lake. Once past the lake take the first main right turn onto branch W-79 staying on the most traveled road at all times switch backing up towards the ridge for 6kms more. From here a 4x4 would be needed drive the last 1.5km up the hill to reach the trailhead as the cross ditches are fairly deep. On the upper side of the last switchback look for two rock cairns on the left, they mark the start of the trail which follows the left side of the slash up to the timber.
Hope you enjoyed reading this report and stay tune in for more adventures at Island hikes