MOUNT BEGBIE 2730m 8957′
Mount Begbie is by far the most prominent mountain seen from Revelstoke, and has three summits. It is named for Sir Matthew Begbie, Chief Justice and famous judge of the old Crown Colony of British Columbia. Surveyed.
Map: 82L/16 Revelstoke
Drive: 0.0 Junction Hwy 23 and 1. From Revelstoke, drive south on Highway 23,
10.3 km (6.4 miles) or 39.7 km (24.7 miles) north of Shelter Bay.
1. North Glacier, North Ridge. Four hours of backpacking by trail (sign) are required to reach a campsite (biffy) at 1830m (6000 feet) and four hours more to climb the peak. Climb the glacier, and attain the north ridge of the central summit by traversing a ledge low down on its east side that ends on the crest above the first rock tower. (The rock below the ledge is loose, rubble, Class 4. A low spot on the ledge may require protection.) The easy ridge (solid quartzite) ends with a final snow wall and cornice. (See Route 7.)
A good descent (or alternate ascent) is by the east ridge on rock and steep snow to the central-east summit col, and down the steep north couloir to the glacier. Ice, Glacier (II,5.0,s).
June 11, 1907.
2. North Glacier, East Ridge. See Rte. 1. Ice, Glacier (II,4,s).
3. Southwest Slopes. The rock of the southwest face is rotten. (II,4,s).
Topographical Survey party, 1911.
The southwest face and southeast ridge were climbed by David P. Jones in two separate efforts in 1967. The main (central) summit was traversed.
4. Southwest Ridge. Follow the southwest ridge and the watershed to the summit, after an approach up Wap Creek from Three Valley Gap (introduction, “To upper Wap Creek”, and Mount English, Route 2; bushwhacking). (II,3,s).
FA Vernon Stanley (one of a Kamloops Outdoor Club party), 1941
5. Southeast Ridge. This is probably the southeast ridge of the east summit. Climbed by David P. Jones, 1967.
6. Northwest Ridge, West Summit. The central summit was climbed by traversing over the west summit, but no information is available except that there is loose shingle and care is required.
7. East Face of North Ridge. Approach as for Route 1, and gain the traverse ledge used to access the north ridge. Climb straight up for two pitches on sound rock (Class 5.6), and traverse left for two rope lengths on easy ground. Angle up to the left for four more pitches (to Class 5.4) to the north ridge below the summit. Ice, Glacier (III,5.6,s).
FA Susan Chaytor, Judy Dickie, Gary Wolkoff, July 1989. R. Lymburne ascended Mount Begbie on skis in 1932, in a 14 hour round trip from Revelstoke.
Hanging Out With The Judge: MT. BEGBIE, August 5-7
“Prisoner at the bar, the jury have said you are not guilty. You can go, and I devoutly hope the next man you sandbag will be one of the jury.” So said Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie to a defendant acquitted of assault after a barroom brawl. Although Judge Begbie was known as the “hanging judge” he apparently only issued a few death sentences during his time as a travelling judge imposing law and order among the hurly-burly of the mining camps of the Cariboo.
Mount Begbie is a very attractive peak southwest of and quite prominent from Revelstoke. The standard route up is via the north ridge (class 3) which is reached by way of a ledge from the glacier on the north side of the peak. A good Ministry of Forests trail leads to a campsite at about 6,600 feet due north of the glacier.
Our group left Nelson on Friday night (5th August) and arrived at the Galena Bay ferry terminal just in time to see the 7.30 pm ferry pulling away from the dock – so it goes. Once on the west side of Arrow Lake, darkness made it a little more difficult to find the dirt road that leads to the trailhead, but, soon enough we had pulled into the parking area, met up with Cindy (who had driven out from Cawston) and were climbing into tents or the backs of trucks to sleep for the night.
After breakfast the next morning, we all hiked up the trail at our own pace arriving at the campsite just before noon. The campsite has three wooden tent platforms, an outhouse and is close to a good stream. Brad, who arrived first at the campsite, snagged the most desirable platform, perched out above the forest with a great view of Revelstoke and the Selkirk Mountains to the east. In the afternoon, Dave and Ray hung around camp, while the rest of us wandered slowly around the north ridge of Mount Begbie to a pass between Tilley and Begbie where there were a number of small tarns and one larger lake set in a pretty alpine meadow. During much of our walk we were buzzed by a small helicopter on sight seeing tours out of Three Valley Gap. That evening, prussic cords were adjusted for length, crampons were checked for fit and a few of us set up a couple of different pulley systems for yanking victims from crevasses.
Sunday morning we meandered up to the glacier over ledges scattered with loose rock left behind by the retreating glacier. At the toe of the glacier, we put on crampons and walked up the bare ice until we reached snow. Roped up we crossed the snow to the ledge. Apparently, in times past, it was easy to step onto the ledge from the glacier, but glacial recession has changed the route so that it is now an awkward 4th class step on loose rock to gain the ridge. With the aid of an ice axe buried in the snow above the ledge, we set up a handline and one by one used a prussic for a safety and climbed up onto the ledge.
The ledge, while broad at its furthest end, is narrow at the start and somewhat exposed, so we strung another handline along it (there are two sets of bolt anchors on the ledge that make this very easy) and clipped in as we crossed the narrowest portion. Once everyone was at the base of the north ridge we coiled up the rope and gave it to Brad to carry in an attempt to slow him down! Peter brought up the rear and we scrambled up the delightful quartzite of the north ridge towards the summit. About 200 metres below the top we paused for some refreshment on a grassy bench before the final scramble to the summit.
Great views on top where we could pick out peaks we’d climbed previously (like Burnham and Odin) and peaks we’d really like to climb (perhaps Cranberry and Thor). Ray pointed out the location of this year’s hiking camp in the Duncan Range to the east, and the site of the 2001 hiking camp at Blanket Glacier just south of us. Of course, the helicopter from Three Valley Gap rotated by a couple of times on its scenic circuit.
Descending the north ridge was quick – it took only one hour to get back to the bolt anchors on the ledge. Ray was a good sport and “volunteered” to be lowered off first and (hopefully) enjoyed the free hanging descent to the snow. One by one the rest of us rappelled down to the snow – a nice quick exit on to the glacier – I can’t speak for the others, but I was glad to avoid the loose down climb from the ledge.
Back at camp, Doug and I lazed around drinking tea, while the others (with more pressing time commitments) quickly packed up and started down the trail. The descent down the trail was a bit hard on my aging knees but a good trail still beats a rough bushwhack any day. Climbers: Doug Brown, Dave Jack, Ray Neumar, Brad Steele, Peter Tchir, Cindy Walker. Coordinator: Sandra McGuinness