Gimli Peak
Gimli Peak is perhaps the most accessible of the stunning array of spectacular mountains at the south end of British Columbia's Valhalla Provincial Park.  While the peak's south ridge is a classic technical route which attracts climbers from all over the world, the east ridge (climbers' descent route) is a Class 3 scramble well within the capability of mere mortals like myself.  Having said that, the east ridge is still a serious endeavour, and there have been some fatalities on this route in recent years (in 2017 and 2019).  With a favourable weather forecast on 5 August 2020, Zosia Zgolak and I ventured into the park to scramble up this stunningly beautiful peak.

At the south end of the village of Slocan, go west on Gravel Pit Road which becomes Little Slocan Road just past the bridge over Slocan River.  From the bridge, ignore all side roads and drive for 12.0 kilometres along Little Slocan Road (good 2WD gravel) before turning right onto Bannock Burn Forest Service Road (FSR).  Following occasional signs for Valhalla Provincial Park, drive for another 13.0 kilometres to the signed trailhead parking area with green throne toilet.  We counted 96 water bars along Bannock Burn FSR; a high-clearance vehicle is strongly recommended.

After camping at the trailhead the previous night, Zosia and I got off to a good start in the morning along the well-maintained trail to Gimli Ridge.  The trail is fairly flat for the first 600 metres but begins to climb in earnest after crossing a bridge to the west side of a creek.  Near tree line, we ran into the first of numerous mountain goats that frequent the area.  Much like their counterparts in the United States, these goats have become habituated to humans and crave the salt that is left behind when people urinate in the open.  As such, official BC Parks policy is to discourage people from approaching or interacting with the goats and from urinating in the open if possible.  There is both a green throne toilet and a fancy outhouse located on Gimli Ridge.  We also ran into a group of student rangers who were on their way out after spending the previous day fixing signage in the area and monitoring the goats.

Upon reaching the crest of Gimli Ridge and the end of the official trail, Zosia and I worked our way eastward along the base of the cliffs guarding Gimli Peak.  Surprisingly, there are hardly any obvious game trails or beaten paths here, and it was quite tedious to traverse to the start of the rubble slope leading to the east ridge.  We actually stayed a bit too high along the traverse and got cliffed out at one point which necessitated a rather annoying detour with loss of elevation.  In retrospect, we should have left the official trail much earlier and climbed grassy slopes further to climber's right which would have saved us some grief.  Once we reached the start of the rubble slope, we began seeing some cairns leading us up increasingly steep and loose terrain.  We eventually ended up in a gully which seemingly dead-ends on the crest of the east ridge with a jaw-dropping view of the Mulvey Lakes on the other side.  From here, the route traverses to climber's left before continuing upward into more steep terrain.  Zosia was already out of her comfort zone at this point and agreed to stay put while I continued up alone.

The final section going up the summit block looks a bit daunting at first, but besides some mild exposure, the proper route never exceeds Class 3 difficulty.  Plenty of cairns help guide the way, and I found the ascent of the summit block to be far more enjoyable than the rubble slope Zosia and I had ascended earlier.  Upon gaining the flat and spacious summit ridge, I turned left for a short and easy walk to the large summit cairn.

On such a beautiful day, it would have been nice to linger for a lot longer on the summit, but knowing that Zosia was waiting for me below, I promptly began descending once I completed my usual summit chores.  Following the cairns, I carefully retraced my steps down the summit block and had no issues getting back to the gully where I had left Zosia.  After reuniting, we continued down the rubble slope together but chose a slightly different line than the one we came up.  We generally tried to stick to larger boulders and avoid loose sections of dirt, but either way, the descent was slow and tedious.  Only when we reached the grassy meadows below did we finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the worst was behind us.  We took a short break in the shade of some big rocks further down in the meadows before heading cross-country back to the official trail.  Upon regaining the trail, we were once again greeted by one of the resident goats, but adhering to BC Parks policy, we ignored the goat and refrained from urinating in the area.  The remaining hike back to the trailhead was uneventful, and we subsequently managed to make it down Bannock Burn FSR in one piece despite driving over 96 water bars for the second time in as many days.
There is a toilet (green machine) at this trailhead! Zosia is ready to start hiking from the trailhead.
Yes, awesome! Gimli Peak's southwest face and south ridge are awesome to behold.
They're kinda creepy when they start following you! The many goats in this area have become habituated to the presence of humans and show no fear.
Not creepy--just cute! A hoary marmot relaxes on a rock below Gimli Peak.

It's hard to ignore such a good trail though!

To scramble up the east ridge of Gimli Peak, it would be better to leave the trail well before this spot in order to climb the rubble slope at right.


The goats like to sniff around the outhouse! Zosia passes an outhouse near the crest of Gimli Ridge.  Note the goat sitting in the dirt above the snow patch at far right.
I'll stick to easy scrambling for now! Here is a look up at the south ridge of Gimli Peak which is a classic technical climbing route.
Well, that was annoying! After having to lose about 80 metres of elevation to avoid an impassable cliff band, Sonny resumes climbing upward.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Slowly grinding our way upward... Zosia climbs beside a lingering snow patch near the edge of the rubble slope on the southeast side of Gimli Peak.
Ugly scrambling here! The terrain is both loose and steep higher up the slope.
This is where the real fun begins! This is looking up at the remaining 160 metres of elevation gain left to reach the summit.
Wow. Just wow. Here is a view of Gladsheim Peak and a couple of the Mulvey Lakes from the crest of Gimli Peak's east ridge.

Lotsa cairns help point the way.

Sonny (circled) methodically works his way up the summit block of Gimli Peak.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak


Bittersweet victory--I wish Zosia could have been up here with me. Sonny reaches the summit of Gimli Peak (2800 metres).
Glad I'm not going down that way! This is looking down at the south ridge from the summit.
A lifetime of peak-bagging opportunities... A host of unfamiliar peaks stretch out beyond the green valley to the west.

So many beautiful peaks in this area!

Notable peaks to the northwest include Mount Prestley (left), Woden Peak (centre horizon), Midgard Peak (right), and Devils Dome (far right horizon).


The only climbers we saw on this day were a couple who were climbing Wolfs Ears. Mount Dag (centre) and Wolfs Ears (right) sit to the east.
The climbers' descent route still looks a bit daunting here! Asgard Peak and one of the Mulvey Lakes garner the most attention to the north.  The bottom of the photograph shows part of the Class 3 route which was ascended by Sonny but is more commonly used as a descent route for climbers.
Steeper than it looks here! Zosia descends a tedious slope of big boulders and rubble.
We survived the descent! After descending the rubble slope behind her, Zosia is happy to be back on easier terrain.
Should be on every peak-bagger's to-do list! Total Distance:  11.8 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  10 hours 16 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1108 metres

GPX Data