GEOGRAPHY OF THE COLUMBIA MOUNTAINS
Sunset on the Monashee Mountains and ferry at Galena Bay. Viewed from the Selkirk Mountains' side of Arrow Lake (Columbia River).
by KT, 2012
Four mountain ranges make up the region called the Columbia Mountains
. They are the Selkirk, Purcell, Monashee, and Cariboo mountains. Starting in the late 1800's, mountain climbers called the mountains east of the Canadian Rockies the Interior Ranges of British Columbia
. The residents of Trail, Castlegar, Nelson, and even Kamloops tend to ignore the other two names and call the southern BC part of these ranges the Kootenays
. So this region has three legitimate names thus making the Columbia Mountains hard to define.
The four component ranges of the Columbia Mountains.
The Canadian Rockies also feed the headwaters of the Columbia River but are not part of the Columbia Mountains. The Canadian Rockies are a much bigger range and very different geologically.
The name Columbia Mountains stops at the American border but the mountains and river do not.
The extensive alpine glaciers capping both the Columbia Mountains and Canadian Rockies are the reason that the Columbia River is the biggest river on the continent. The discharge of the Columbia River is greater than the discharge of North America's longest river, the Mississippi.
THE SELKIRK RANGE OF THE COLUMBIA MOUNTAINS
Looking south to the Illecillawaet Neve, Selkirk Mountains
by KT, 2012
are where to find the Adamant Group, Mount Sir Sandford, Mount Sir Donald, the Valhallas, and the Battle Range. The peaks near Rogers Pass are the oldest climbing area on the continent. The historic climbing was all about the high peaks.
VIDEO OF MOUNT SIR DONALD
The remote west side of the Adamant Group
Transcript from basecamp: "Out there is the Rogers Pass highway in the valley and Mount Bonney and Sir Donald." plus.google.com/u/0/photos/103... ROCK CLIMBING IN THE SELKIRK MOUNTAINS
Today, good lowland rock climbing is also available. One example is Slocan Lake Bluff, located at the south end of Slocan Lake by the abandoned lumber mill in the town of Slocan. There are almost one hundred climbing routes and the approach is short, level, and partly paved. There is a campground with showers and a public beach in the town of Slocan. Personally, if my kids were still young, then Slocan is where we'd spend our climber-family vacations.
SLOCAN LAKE BLUFFS
A surprisingly steep 5.6 on chalk-hiding, in-cut, hand holds.
The West Kootenay Rock Guide
by Aaron Kristiansen and Vince Hempsall is available at the Valhalla Pure Outfitters. Use it for all the climbing found along the Columbia and Kootenay rivers in the vicinity of Castlegar and Nelson, BC.
The best information for the alpine climbs of the Selkirks is found in Selkirks North
and Selkirks South
by Dave Jones, 2001. THE PURCELL RANGE OF THE COLUMBIA MOUNTAINS
The Howser Towers
from Pigeon Peak in
submitted 2014 by MP
are where to find the Bugaboos
. These mountains were originally very hard to find because they are remotely located in the middle of the Purcell Mountains.
Geologically, the Bugs
are an island of good granite lost in a mountain range made mostly of soft metamorphosed sediments called the Shusswap Complex. Historically, a Cenozoic tectonic collision caused the Shusswap metamorphism. Next, granitic magma intruded the soft choss, cooled, and then solidified. Subsequently, during the last two million years or so, uplift and alpine erosion chiseled off the choss and left behind the well sharpened granite spires of the famously spectacular Bugaboos. CLIMBING IN THE PURCELLS
There are good climbing guidebooks for the Bugaboos mentioned on that page. However the only book that covers all the peaks of the Purcells is the out of print American Alpine Club Climbers Guide to the Interior Ranges of British Columbia
(See references below). For routes climbed later than 1971, outside the Bugaboos but in the Purcells, try both the Canadian Alpine Journal
and American Alpine Journal
. THE MONASHEE RANGE OF THE COLUMBIA MOUNTAINS
The northern Monashee range and Columbia River from Mt Revelstoke.
have two groups of steep, alpine, peaks to recommend. The most popular is Mount Begbie, a slightly technical but major peak near Revelstoke. Farther south is the group of peaks containing Mount Odin and Mount Thor. These spectacular peaks are visible from the ferry that connects Shelter Bay to Galena Bay by crossing Upper Arrow Lake. ROCK CLIMBING IN THE MONASHEE MOUNTAINS
Between the Shelter Bay ferry and Revelstoke, along Highway 23, there is good lowland sport climbing on quartzite. Well developed sport crags are hidden in temperate rain-forest. The two main areas are Begbie Bluffs and Blanket Creek. There is a local rock climbing guide book available in the town of Revelstoke. Impressively, both areas are marked on the 5th edition of the Kootenay Rockies BC Backroad Mapbook
(p34 Begbie Bluff, p35 Blanket Creek).
Blanket Creek Arete
2 pitches, 5.10
Perhaps the oldest and best route along the Columbia River is Sunshine Crack on the Kinnard Bluffs. This major climbing area is a few kilometers downstream from Castlegar, BC. Local climbers would say these bluffs are in the Kootenays, not the Monashees.
THE CARIBOO RANGE OF THE COLUMBIA MOUNTIANS
Sunshine Crack, 5.8
by KT 2012
see mostly ski industry visitors, via choppers. William L Putnam had this to say in 1971: "There still remain a dozen unclimbed summits exceeding 9,000' in the Northernmost Cariboos." The Caribous are mostly drained by the Fraser River, but nevertheless are still is considered a range of the Columbia Mountains. MOUNTAIN CONDITION REPORTS
Canadian mountain guides have been around a long time, more than a century now. The Association of Canadian Mountain Guides
generously share their hard won observations and photographs of current conditions for both the Columbia Mountains and Canadian Rockies. HAZARDS OF THE COLUMBIA MOUNTAINS
These mountains have all the hazards found in the Alps!!! Additionally, longer days to prevent summer freezes up high, some epic approaches, grizzly bears, and mean mountain goats. REFERENCES The Physiographic Provinces of North America
by Wallace Walter Atwood, 1964. Climbing in North America
by Chris Jones, 1976 Canadian Alpine Journal
(all of them) American Alpine Journal
(most of 'em) American Alpine Club Climbers Guide to the Interior Ranges of British Columbia
by William Lowell Putnam, 1971 Cascade Alpine Guide #3
by Fred Beckey Kootenay Rockies BC Backroads Mapbook
, 2011 (even has climbing areas marked) The Road Atlas by Rand McNalley
, 2009 (lots of details for a large scale map)
65 Total Routes
['4 Stars',16],['3 Stars',23],['2 Stars',19],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]