Home > News

First Winter Ascent of Mount Colwell on West Coast

The following write-up is from Max Fisher about his and Mike Ford’s first winter ascent of Mount Colwell on Vancouver Island.

One of the tastiest recipes for Island winter climbing is a warm spell followed by clear skies and slow cooling with freezing temps to valley bottom helping significantly with the travel in and out of the hills. The past week has been just this and was fortunate to able to take advantage of the amazing weather window.

On Feb. 5 and 6, Mike Ford and I hiked up Cervus Creek and climbed the first winter ascent of Vancouver Islands largest alpine wall. The east face of Mount Colwell (1,989 m).

We left the car at 8:30 a.m. with the snow being frozen we found travel to be fairly easy and the bushwhacking to be very manageable. We arrived to the base of the route around noon and started climbing.

After navigating the spindrift and run-outs we dug in at 7 p.m. to eat, drink and sleep. At 7:30 a.m. we were on the move again and topped out the face at 11:30 a.m. and summited the mountain at 12:45 p.m.

Then we made our way down to the Elk River Trail and back to Hwy 28 by 6 p.m. after about 36 hours. This route was dubbed the Uber Couloir by Phil Stone and thought the name should stay. All said and done the route is as follows: Mount Colwell’s East Face via Uber Couloir AI4+ TD+ 1,400 m.

This was the second ascent of the face, the first ascent of the face was climbed in August 2013 by Mike Shives, Mike Loch, Ryan Van Horne and Mike Morris.

I had previously been up the valley to climb this wall in 2012 and again in 2013 only to be skunked by conditions. On both those adventures up the valley I was with Phil Stone (a local legend, guidebook author and advocate for the Island Mountains) and we had a blast exploring and sharing stories.

Huge Thanks to Mike Ford for another rad Island Alpine Adventure. Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time and this was one of those times.