Mount Gladstone

Located within British Columbia's Gladstone Provincial Park, Mount Gladstone is one of a handful of named peaks in the Christina Range of the southern Monashee Mountains.  While these lowly peaks are of little interest to more serious mountaineers, their obscurity makes them all the more attractive to me.  Mount Gladstone is the second highest peak in the park with probably the easiest access.  Route information is somewhat limited online, but the description from Ron Perrier's website was enough to get me pointed in the right direction.  Thus, Zosia Zgolak and I made an ascent of Mount Gladstone on 7 August 2020 after spending the previous rainy night at a surprisingly nice camping spot in the nearby historic rail station of Farron (picnic shelter and outhouse).

From Highway 3, turn north onto Paulson Detour Road 20 kilometres west of the junction with Highway 3B or 30 kilometres east of the junction with Highway 395.  Follow the paved road for 2.6 kilometres to a 5-way junction.  The Columbia & Western (C&W) Rail Trail--part of the Trans-Canada Trail--passes through here, and there is a large pullout with an information kiosk next to the section of trail heading north.  Drive north on the C&W Rail Trail (good 2WD gravel) for 2.4 kilometres to another information kiosk next to a foot bridge.  This is the trailhead for Mount Gladstone.  Note that this kiosk only has historical information and nothing in regards to Mount Gladstone or the trail up Hooper Creek.  On a separate note, Perrier and another trip report by Sandra McGuinness refer to this drainage as "Hopper Creek", but all maps that I could find label it as "Hooper Creek".  The historic Farron rail station is located a further 3.7 kilometres north of the trailhead.

From the information kiosk, Zosia and I crossed the foot bridge to a glade which was apparently the site of a lumber camp.  We spotted flagging at the west side of the glade and picked up a trail which soon follows an old road climbing southward up the slope.  About a kilometre from the trailhead, the trail turns north and ultimately heads westward along the south bank of Hooper Creek.  Although hiking along the trail was generally straightforward, there were a few sections that were quite bushy and overgrown.  We eventually crossed over to the north bank of Hooper Creek, but given the thickness of the bush, it was difficult to find a suitable place to leave the trail and head uphill to the east ridge of Mount Gladstone as suggested by Perrier.  Instead, we kept following the trail which led us past an old campsite and then up to the crest of the encircling ridge above Hooper Creek basin.  At this point, we were pretty much following Perrier's described alternative route, and we abandoned the trail to follow the ridge northward to Mount Gladstone.  To avoid some steep cliffs, we initially stayed well to the climber's left of the ridge crest, but off-trail travel here was scrubby and tedious.  Things improved once we scrambled to the top of an unnamed high point along the ridge, and although we had to lose a bit of elevation to continue northward, there were no more route-finding difficulties the rest of the way to the summit.

At the summit, Zosia and I took a well-deserved break before commencing our descent.  Rather than backtrack, we hoped to save some time and distance by heading eastward and descending Perrier's original described ascent route.  As we would soon learn, this route is far from trivial and entails a lot of route-finding and a fair amount of bushwhacking.  The east ridge of Mount Gladstone is a bit of a mixed bag with some easy stretches interspersed between some surprising drop-offs or bushy terrain.  We muddled along the ridge for awhile before leaving the crest to drop down some very steep but open slopes.  Inevitably, the forest closed in on us as we dropped lower, but thankfully, the ensuing thrash was pretty short-lived as we quickly intersected the main trail.  Of course, I would never have considered leaving the trail at this spot to ascend to the east ridge, and I am still puzzled about where Perrier's original route goes.  The remainder of our hike out went without a hitch, and since we did not have far to drive for our next day's planned objective, we opted to return to Farron to camp for a second night.
Off to a good start! Zosia crosses a bridge over McRae Creek at the trailhead.
Look for flagging tape at the start! After a somewhat nebulous start, Zosia finds an old road to climb up.

Very pleasant hiking.

The trail initially climbs up through old-growth forest such as this.


There's a trail here?? Further up the valley, the trail is quite overgrown in places.
No dead bodies yet, so it's all good, man! An old campsite is located near the headwaters of Hooper Creek.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Scrubby and somewhat unpleasant terrain here. After climbing to the crest of the ridge encircling the headwaters of Hooper Creek, Zosia abandons the trail and heads cross-country for one of the highpoints along the ridge (not visible here).
The lake looks so far away! Sonny pauses at a clearing with a view of Christina Lake in the distance.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

I think we're finally getting somewhere! Cresting a highpoint along the ridge, the true summit of Mount Gladstone comes into view.

Mostly easy hiking and scrambling the rest of the way, but some route-finding is still required.

After losing about 60 metres of elevation, Zosia begins the final stretch of climbing to the summit (right).


That was harder than it should have been! Zosia and Sonny stand on the summit of Mount Gladstone (2247 metres).
The lake is much bigger than it looks here. Here is another look at Christina Lake to the southwest from the summit.
Doesn't even look real! A small part of Lower Arrow Lake is visible to the northeast.
Guess where we're going next? The view to the southeast includes Old Glory Mountain (right of centre).

There once was a man from Nantucket...

Sonny relaxes beside the summit cairn as he writes a limerick in the register.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak


More type 2 fun! Zosia heads along the east ridge after leaving the summit.
A bit bushy lower down but well-worth it to save some time and distance. Zosia descends a very steep slope in hopes of intersecting the trail.
A more arduous and time-consuming climb than expected. Total Distance:  14.4 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  9 hours 27 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1099 metres

GPX Data