Trip Date: July 23, 2013
Participants: Brittany Zenger, Geoff Zenger
Difficulty: 3 (easy scrambling, mild exposure, very steep in places)
Report: Two years ago Brittany and I made an attempt on the Judge’s route up Mt. Arrowsmith on Vancouver Island but were turned around by bad weather just above treeline, and so we decided to make another attempt on the peak on our way back from Hornby Island this year. We caught an early ferry off the island and headed to the trailhead, which is still no problem reaching in our 2wd car, and started off on the trail around 10:30 am.
The trail is easy to follow, but becomes steep and dirty near treeline. Once above treeline, mixed in with steep gravel and dirt, there is some rock scrambling involved, although never above an easy 3rd class with only mild exposure simply due to the continuous steepness of the slope. Nearer the summit the trail briefly becomes a bit nicer again, and we reached the summit in amazing weather at about 12:45 pm, only 2 hours and 15 minutes from when we left the car. From the summit, there are fantastic views of Tantalus, the southern reaches of Strathcona Park, Hornby and Denman islands, many other peaks such as Garibaldi and Mamquam in the distance, and the large yellow haze that is Vancouver.
The descent took us slightly longer than the ascent due to wanting to travel carefully down the loose trail, but we made it down in time to grab some fish & chips at Bare Bones in Port Alberni before making our way back to Nanaimo to come home. In all, this is a quick and easy route up a prominent peak with great views that can be done in 4-5 hours car-to-car. However, I won’t be headed back any time soon… the trail itself is just too unpleasant due to its looseness, steepness, and lack of views until near the summit, to make me want to repeat it again for a long time.