Book Review: The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore: A Peakbagger’s Guide

We have been in desperate need on the West Coast for a definitive and comprehensive guide to many of the peaks on the North Shore.

There have been thinner books that point to trails worth the taking and a few summits worth the bagging, but none can match for breadth and depth the recently published The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore. I have been fortunate in the last forty years to have rambled and sat on many of the summits on the North Shore peaks, so I was more than charmed and delighted to walk the pages of this page-turner of a tome (indeed, the now go-to book on peaks on the North Shore).

The Glorious Mountains is organized well and wisely—seven areas are described in necessary detail for the curious and eager:

1) Howe Sound Islands (nine peaks)

2) Britannia Range (twenty-three peaks)

3) Grouse Mountain Area (nine peaks)

4) Hanes Valley Peaks (three peaks)

5) Lynn Peaks (five peaks)

6) Cathedral peaks (four peaks)

7) Fannin Range (fourteen peaks).

Each of the unique sections covered in this attractive tome has their own colour designation which makes for a quick and hasty turn to the pages needed for the best and most up-to-date information on trip planned. The book is replete with superb colour photographs and ample topographic maps to make any trek as simple and as attractive as possible. The lengthy and informative “Introduction” is worthy of many a reread for those keen on taking to the mountains in a regular and safe manner. Many are the needful points covered to inwardly digest before taking to the inevitable challenges that mountain trekking brings to one and all. Some of the nostalgic photos and history do a superb job of putting West Coast mountaineering in a thoughtful and engaged historic context. The nod to the North Shore Rescue and Lions Bay Search and Rescue as an entrée to the The Glorious Mountains was fit and apt, as was the detailed and in depth “Endnotes”and “Index.”

It is virtually impossible, given the directions in this book to trail heads and routes up mountainsides, to miss the means to bag the diverse peaks (some, obviously, more challenging than others). The fact that various routes are aptly articulated up diverse pathways to summits means many a pleasurable trip can be taken up the same mountain many times. The equally important fact that round trip distances and elevation gain are front-staged means that those planning such trips, weather being fine and fair, can plan trips with some predictability (weather being more moody, time more elastic). I might add that the text is matched by well-placed photographs that highlight both paths taken to summits worth the sitting on and views worth the seeing from such peaks. The contour maps of sorts that introduce each section offer the attentive reader an aerial overview of sorts of the broader terrain from within which their hike will be taken. But, there is more than mountain terrain exhibited in the multiplicity of photographs—flowers, flora and fauna, trees, forests and waterways, alpine tarns and lakes are in abundance.

The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore is the must-buy sacred text for those keen to cut their mountaineering teeth on the North Shore Mountains—a sort of rite of passage into the more demanding climbs. I was also impressed by the way the authors gave a rightful nod to the mountaineering elders who came before them: Glenn Woodsworth and Dick Culbert. A couple of lines will say it all: “We also here acknowledge that the legendary Dick Culbert (1940 Winnipeg – 2017 Gibsons) died just before publication of this book. All devotees of British Columbia mountains are in his debt.” I might add that Glenn Woodsworth, Karl Ricker and Arnold Shives are, in many ways, living elders of such a mountaineering tribe, but many are the mountain pioneers on the West Coast such as Don/Phyllis Munday that need hats tipped their heroic ways, also.

The publication in 1965 of Dick’s classic, A Climber’s Guide to the Coastal Ranges of Ranges of British Columbia, pioneered and birthed guides to peak bagging in British Columbia, and The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore is very much a child of such a line and lineage—but such a mature child describes treks that Dick Culvert never did describe in such intricate and poignant detail. There is both beauty and bounty in this mountaineering classic of Vancouver’s North Shore mountains, and I’m sure the solid research done will stand the test of time and provide much guidance for those keen to bag many a peak.




The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore: A Peakbagger’s Guide by David Crerar, Harry Crerar and Bill Maurer; Rocky Mountain Books, Victoria, BC, 2018; ISBN 97801771602419, softcover, 504 pages; $40.00

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *