Our next adventure in Vancouver is our first ever Canadian mountain! Marc’s friends Bernhard and Reinhold were planning to walk up Mount Seymour and they kindly invited us to join them. Mount Seymour is one of the mountains that you can see from false creek. So I have been looking up at it longingly from our first day here. It is popular with hikers in the summertime and it looks like you can also ski there in winter. Although it is almost the end of June, we got to see a bit of both the summery and wintry aspects of the mountain as it was still covered in several meters of snow! Bernhard told us this was more snow than April last year!
Mount Seymour is less than an hours drive from the centre of Vancouver. Bernie had warned us that this is a city full of early risers. He said if we didn’t go pretty early we’d get stuck in weekend traffic, and it’d take much longer to escape over the bridge to North Vancouver. So we were up and ready to go by 7am, and Bernie showed up a few minutes early, so even after the drive, we were still some of the first people in the car park near the top of the mountain. When he got into the car in Vancouver, Reinhold mentioned there might be 6 meters of snow at the top. None of us really believed that, as it has been so sunny for the last few weeks. We could see a little snow even from the car park. But we decided to start walking up and see how we got on.
Bernhard moved to Vancouver a few years before us. His photos are what persuaded me that we *really* need to move away from London and closer to mountains. He grew up in the Alps in Austria, so he is a bit of a mountain goat. Marc and I were a bit worried about attempting to keep up with him, as last year, he zoomed up Mount Seymour 17 times! But, this meant he was the perfect guide as he knows the mountain really well. Even if you can’t actually see the paths because they are covered in snow!
So, we started up the hill, and quickly found ourselves walking in a snow drift. It actually wasn’t very difficult to walk on; It was crunchy rather than slippy. There were quite a few footprints from people and dogs who had already set off, so we kept on wandering up. After the first few ridges, Bernhard said he wasn’t sure if it would be safe to walk the whole way to the top, but we should go to the first ridge (called Brockton Point) and at least see the view down to Vancouver. The plan was always to turn back if there was too much snow to walk up safely.
Once we got going, it wasn’t too hard to walk in deep snow. We were all having too much fun to turn back now, and Bernhard said if we really were okay, then he’d show us the way to Mount Seymour’s first peak. The only thing is, you have to go down quite a steep slope to get back to the path to the peak. Marc and I were slipping about a bit, so Bernie and Reinheld each gave us one of their hiking poles and we set off. Bernie did a slide with the heels of his shoes down the first really steep slope. I couldn’t manage that, so I just sat on my bottom and slid my way down. It is soooo fun sliding down a mountain. I ended up with a very cold arse, but it was a warm day, so it dried pretty quickly. Plus that much giggling is worth a cold soggy bottom.
The hardest parts to climb were the steep areas as you need to kick in the snow for each step to make a foothold. I cheated and waited behind the boys, then just climbed up using their footholds. As we got higher and higher, the views got so much prettier. You can see the tops of jaggered peaks for miiiiles!
The only difficult thing was walking close to trees. The snow starts to melt close to the tree trunks and creates hollow areas just under the ice. Marc nearly fell down one of these holes, and you can see how deep they went close to the trees. Closer to the top, this was less of an issue, but it is pretty strange just to see the very top of a tree peeking out next to your feet!!
Really close to the top there is a ridge with amaaaaaazing views out to other peaks! It looked like we could take a few steps through the snow to the peak! Bernie said that those were actually cliffs, and we’d need to climb around in a loop to get to the top of the First Peak. The very top is covered in black rocks, so they really stand out next to the white snow!
Once we made it to the top, there were quite a few voices. Lots of people had climbed straight up the face of Seymour mountain, rather than following the official route. It was like a mini Mountaintop party! As there were so many people, Marc and I tried calling our parents. I mean it’s not often you have enough signal on the top of a mountain to make a video call and show your parents the view! My parents were in a restaurant having their tea (Oops!). I could hear mum explaining that she had to take the call because her daughter was in Canada so she doesn’t get to speak to me much! That was a bit of a fib because I have called waaay more from Canada than I ever did from London. This might be the most picturesque phone call I have ever made!!
The other hikers soon wandered off to go and explore other peaks. We took a photo next to the “First Peak 1407m” sign. I thought it was pretty perfect that the first mountain we climbed in Canada is called First Peak! I just checked my map, and actually it’s called “First Pump Peak,” – someone must have broken off part of the sign!
Bernie said the next two peaks were even steeper than the one we’d just climbed, so he didn’t feel safe showing us the way. My mum would definitely approve! So, we headed off, back the way we came, plodding back down the mountain.
The steep sections were almost impossible to walk down sensibly; So Marc and I both sat on our bottoms and whooped our way down the slopes. We were having such a laugh that the Austrians tried it too. Even the parts that are not steep enough to slide, the snow gives a little with each step, cushioning your steps like sand. This means that my knees stayed happy on the way down the mountain and we made really good time. Once we made it onto one of the ski runs, Reinhold tried using his waterproof coat as a sledge. It kept him dry, but only worked well on the super-steep sections. If you’d like to see a short clip of me giggling like a loony while sliding down the slopes, Marc added one to Instagram here. By the time we reached the car park we were all pretty soggy!
Bernie was right about Canadians being early risers. On the way back down the mountain we met sooo many people! We met several groups of students, people with dogs, and a family with two young kids practising being mountain goats! We even met a couple climbing in the snow with their baby (!) As we got further down the mountain there were more and more groups of people going up the other way! Once we made it down, the car park was almost completely full. There were lots of ladies in teeny shorts and vests heading up into the snow. I hope they were all okay…it was pretty warm down by the car park, but it must be really cold to slide on snow with bare legs!!
Anyway, that was our adventure hiking up our first Canadian Mountain. We didn’t get to the official Peak of Mount Seymour, that is about 50m higher. But I got to have a good look around and I am excited to see the scenery with less snow if we come back later in the summer!! Once we made it down from the mountain, it was only just getting close to lunch time. We stopped off in North Vancouver for beers, cider and some brunch.
After that, once we’d got back to our hotel, Marc and I both crashed completely! We meant to have a quick nap, but Marc only woke up in time for dinner! Bernie said it was spending time in the snow allows sooo much white light into your eyes, that you feel like you need to sleep. It didn’t affect me as much (maybe because I wore sunnies!?) So the only other walk we did the whole day was wandering between Sunset beach and English bay in Downtown Vancouver.
The sun sets behind some mountains, but it still manages to light up the sky beautifully. Nice eh!?