Climbing King’s Peak North Spur Route
King’s Peak stands guard high and mighty within the boundaries of Strathcona Provincial Park located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Rising to the elevation of 2065m it holds position as the 9th tallest peak on the island. The first summit was achieved in 1913 and since then has become an Island Alpine Classic. Here is my trip report on climbing King’s Peak north spur route.
The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as King’s ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
I have been up Kings several times prior but there was one route that had eluded my schedule a few times and now was the time to make it a reality. The North Spur route is an island classic with exhilarating exposure , endless views and a good entry into 5th class rock terrain. The best time to climb this route is late spring when the snow has compacted and risk of avalanche is minimal. Safety is paramount accessing the route as you climb up the chute of the main gully up onto the North Glacier to reach the solid rock of the North Ridge.
King’s Peak Trailhead
The trailhead is located on highway #28 just past Lady Falls headed towards Gold River roughly 67km west of Campbell River. Here you can turn left at the Kings Peak highway sign and travel just over 1km to the parking area. Alternatively if you have a 4×4 you can turn left prior to this turnoff and go up the power line road which which meets up with the trail higher up and takes a good 1hr off your total hike time.
My good friend Jain, a seasoned alpine enthusiast was game to join me so we set out to sleep at the trailhead and climb the early next morning at sunrise. A good nights sleep and we set out at 630am walking past the beautiful Kings Peak trail to the mountain created by the local Alpine Club the Heathens. The trail to lower meadow at the base of the climbing routes meanders several switchbacks and waterfalls through beautiful old growth taking anywhere from 2-3 hrs for most fit hikers.
Once we reached the lower meadow the Main Glacier Gully was straight before us, conditions were absolutely perfect. On when the crampons and out came the ice axes as we slowly and steadily climbed until we reached the massive North Kings Glacier.
King’s Peak North Spur Route
From here you will continue up the glacier until you see a nice traverse heading to your left. We made our way below the North Ridge heading to the NE where the access point of the North Spur can be found.
Here we climbed what I felt was the crux of the route as we had to go up the steep wall making very exposed moves from 4th to low 5th until we reached the ridge top. Once on top we made quick time working along the North Spur headed for the main summit.
The North Spur has amazing atmospheric views as you have the NorthEast glacier on one side with the North Glacier on the other. About half way up the route you come to the infamous North Spur Notch, a break in the ridge with exposed drops to either side. You will descend into the notch and take a very airy leap of faith across the gap when the two ledges are close enough, then climbing out and continuing you way along the ridge.
The final bit of the route is completed with an extremely exposed spine where you reach the last blocky face of the summit, route finding for the easiest weaknesses until you are standing on the summit block.
King’s Peak Summit
We could not have asked for better conditions with a slight breeze, blue skies and a warm sun on our faces. At the summit we met up with Ryan VanHorne who was back solo to capture his 2nd first ascent in a week of the East Buttresses of Kings. Check out the article at Gripped Magazine Then shortly after fellow Alpine Club members Peggy, Roger and Roxy reached the summit via the North Glacier and Kings Queens Colouir. It turned out to a good old summit party swapping stories, laughs and of course chocolate.
Descending After Climbing King’s Peak North Spur Route
For climbing King’s Peak north spur route there are a couple of options when it comes to descent. You can retrace your steps down the north spur, you can head down King’s North Glacier or you can choose West Ridge. We chose to enjoy the West Ridge, a nice relaxing class 3 route on solid snow. Some glissading and a few steep snow faces made it fun and exciting. An interesting down climb of the west gully dropping into the lower meadow in mixed late spring melted out snow conditions soon found us having a wonderful late lunch break along a glacier fed creek.
From the King’s Peak lower meadow our group made our way back down the Kings Peak trail and into the forest to our waiting cars. Of course there were cold ciders and lagers waiting of to celebrate a fun big day in the alpine. A fantastic route and a beautiful day finishing at 7pm putting over 1800 m elevation gain under our belts over a roughly 14km loop.
Successfully Climbing King’s Peak North Spur Route
The many peaks of Strathcona Park reward hikers and climbers of all experience levels and confidence with endless options. I highly recommend climbing King’s Peak north spur route if you have the experience and skills to safely do so.
Research Prepare and the Ten Essentials
Take the time to find one for yourself but please always research the route and understand the risks. Leave an emergency plan with a contact, be prepared with your 10 essentials and lastly ALWAYS practice Leave No Trace wilderness ethics.
Have fun out there and #ExploreBeyondTheUsual
Further Reading from Resources and Alpine Training