Climb Mount Arrowsmith Main Summit

Mount Arrowsmith is a South Vancouver Island treat as it provides the outdoor community with countless alpine scrambling and climbing routes. In this trip report learn how to tackle this challenging day hike. Mount Arrowsmith UnJudges Route is an island classic.

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Mt Arrowsmith UnJudges Route

How to Get to Mount Arrowsmith Trailheads

All climbing and hiking routes are reached by turning onto the Cameron Main logging road connector located 1km east of the Alberni Summit Pass traveling between Nanaimo and Port Alberni on highway #4. Follow the connector down to Cameron Main turning left proceeding several km until you reach Pass Main.

Turn left here (there is now a nice mounted sign reading Mt Arrowsmith) and start driving uphill where you will reach Spur Rd 1.5 on your right.  At the spur turn right and travel along the narrow old spur road until you come to a old very large stump in a gully drainage.

On the left hand side will be flagging tape on the stump just before a fork in the road where you will park. Hike back down to the drainage gully to start your way up the trail.

A little bit of the history of Mount Arrowsmith here : Mt Arrowsmith A Dream Come True and also my story in Coast Mountain Culture .

Mount Arrowsmith UnJudges Route

The trail goes up through the forest and then opens to an old clearcut where meanders along the right side of it. The trail then darts back into the beautiful forest until you reach the treeline where the real fun begins.

The UnJudges route is considered a class 4 scramble with exposed sections as the trail moves up through the old growth forest to the south summit on grippy basalt rock. You then make your way to the northern main summit in a very exposed beautiful traverse with a final scramble up to the peak.

Be mindful of seasonal conditions and if there is snow expected be sure to take your ice axe and crampons. Of course also knowing how to use these tools of the trade is key. Have the knowledge or a well experienced trip leader before tackling such an endeavour. Mount Arrowsmith Unjudges Route may appear to be straight forward but demands common sense and sound backcountry skills.

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Time for a break as you exit the old growth treelike into the rocky alpine of UnJudges route

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Emerging from treeline and the final Old Growth forest

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The craggy cliffs of the Mt Arrowsmith summit block

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Be aware of seasonal conditions and pack ice axes and crampons if needed.

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A fun exposed notch just below the main summit on the traverse

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Standing alongside a cornice just below the south summit

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Mid traverse view looking to the eastern shoreline of the island. The Arrowsmith Bumps in the foreground and Main Summit to the upper left.

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Looking back at the just completed south to north traverse of both peaks.

Judges Route Descent of Mount Arrowsmith

Enjoy the views at the summit and then you can make your way down to the lower summit where you will start your descent down Judges Route. This is a nice meandering well worn trail guides you back down to the treeline from the craggy alpine bluffs and cliffs.

Once in the treeline portion of the trail the old growth forest eventually transitions into the many switchbacks of the lower second growth forest. The forested trail eventually emerges onto a decommissioned logging road spur and Judges trailhead the exit of your hike.

The trailhead for Judges route is located at the end of the overgrown section of the logging road terminating off of Spur 2.7 on Pass Main connector that you earlier drove up for the start of your hike.

Here is a google maps link that you can use to navigate the logging roads from the Alberni highway for both the Judges and Unjudges routes on Mount Arrowsmith.

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Easy steps made down in the soft late season spring snow just below the summit on Judges route

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A nice peek at Mt McQuillam in the distance while descending Judges route

Mount Arrowsmith Unjudges Route to Judges Loop

This loop can be done by walking back down the logging road once you get to Spur 2.7 and all the way to your vehicle back on Spur 1.5 . As we had a larger group we opted for the always nice treat of a car shuttle by dropping one of the groups vehicles at the trailhead for Judges and then driving back to the start of UnJudges.

We took our time and enjoyed ourselves in this fine South Vancouver Island alpine location. Our group was comprised of relatively fit individuals and completed the loop in 7hrs , total distance was 7.4km and elevation gain was 1086m .

Other Mount Arrowsmith Region Day Hikes

I suggest Mount Arrowsmith Unjudges Route as a great day hike if you are looking to expand your skills and confidence in an alpine environment. For more challenge and if the snow conditions as well as your skills allow consider checking out Climbing the Snow Gully Route of Mount Arrowsmith

Looking to enjoy the area but try a more manageable hike, check out Minna Ridge : A Vancouver Island Day Hike .

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