Mount Moresby
On 12 August 2021, Zosia Zgolak and I climbed Mount Moresby, the highest mountain in British Columbia's Haida Gwaii.  Definitive route information for this mountain is scarce.  Some online blogs exist (the best one is here) which describe the ascent, but route details are ambiguous at best.  A GPS track is available on AllTrails, but the start is convoluted and entails unnecessary extra distance and elevation gain with possibly even unpleasant bushwhacking.  With the help of a local who climbed the mountain years ago, I was able to figure out perhaps the easiest approach as of this writing.

From Alliford Bay ferry terminal on Moresby Island, turn south onto Alliford Bay Mainline (2WD gravel road) and drive for 12 kilometres to a 3-way junction.  Stay left and continue on South Bay Mainline for 6.2 kilometres to the junction with Moresby Road.  Turn right and drive 11 kilometres to an unsigned junction just before Moresby Camp.  Turn right onto a rougher road (high-clearance recommended) and immediately cross a bridge over Pallant Creek.  About 400 metres past the bridge, turn right (look for makeshift signs that read "MM") and drive 680 metres to another junction.  Turn left and drive as far as possible.  It is about 3 kilometres to the trailhead beyond this last junction, but because of active logging along this road, we had to park about 1.2 kilometres short.  This access may change in the future.

From where we parked--there was another car here when we arrived--Zosia and I easily walked the remainder of the access road to the trailhead which is marked by a sign with the Haida name for Mount Moresby.  Entering forest, we followed a distinct trail climbing gradually alongside a creek northeast of the mountain.  Some sections of trail were a bit overgrown, and the trail can be a bit difficult to follow whenever it enters or crosses the creek bed.  Fortunately, there was a lot of flagging to help keep us on track.  About 1.4 kilometres from the trailhead, we began climbing steeply away from the creek and soon settled into a long and somewhat dispiriting uphill grind.  At an elevation of around 530 metres, there are two fixed ropes to aid in the ascent of some very steep sections.  The first (lower) rope is probably the most challenging as the route feels nearly vertical here.  Without harnesses or belay equipment, we were literally hanging onto the rope for dear life as we climbed upwards.  Fortunately, we cleared the roped sections without incident.

Near tree line, Zosia and I passed an unoccupied tent probably belonging to the same person(s) whose car we had parked behind on the access road.  Emerging from the forest, the trail becomes less distinct, but we still found plenty of flagging and cairns to help point the way.  The route essentially climbs straight up to a high notch on the east ridge of the mountain, and although one rocky step lower down requires some easy hands-on scrambling, the rest is mostly just off-trail hiking.  From the high notch, we traversed to climber's right across an alarmingly steep but short-lived grassy slope to enter an open rocky bowl.  There are some delightfully refreshing waterfalls in this bowl where we could replenish our water bottles.  Some easy scrambling led us up to the crest of the north ridge where we turned left and continued up more uncomplicated terrain to the summit.

Just before reaching the summit, Zosia and I ran into a woman who was the owner of the tent and the other car.  Lena Armstrong, a recently-transplanted local, was also exploring Haida Gwaii much like Zosia and me.  We chatted at length with her and found out that she had put up a lot of the flagging that we had found so useful along the route.  She also expressed some concerns about descending the roped sections with her heavy backpack, and Zosia and I offered to accompany her on the descent once we were finished at the summit.  Lena then departed to go pack up her camp while we went to tag the top of Mount Moresby.

The summit views were exceptional on this day, and with the pleasant weather, Zosia and I hung out on top for well over an hour before reluctantly commencing our descent.  We retraced our steps back to the rocky bowl and then to the high notch without any issues.  By the time we dropped down to Lena's tent site, she had already packed up and started descending, but we eventually caught up to her at the top of the lower fixed rope.  As expected, descending this section was both tricky and unnerving, probably doubly so for Lena with her extra heavy pack.  Still, we all made it down safely without a slip, and from there, we descended the rest of the route together without any problems.

When we returned to our cars, Lena thanked Zosia and me for our company by generously giving us a homemade dehydrated meal and dessert which she normally sells through her online business, Gone Gourmet.  We subsequently drove out the access road together and ultimately went our separate ways once we returned to Moresby Road.  Lena would head to Moresby Camp while Zosia and I drove to Mosquito Lake Recreation Site for our last night of camping in Haida Gwaii.

Looks like it's gonna be another beautiful day!

Morning sunlight hits the waters of Cumshewa Inlet at Moresby Camp.

I guess we will have some company at some point later in the day!

Active logging on the access road forces Zosia to start hiking more than a kilometre from the trailhead.

A few water bars here would have been tricky to drive over anyway. The remaining walk to the trailhead is easy.
There's something Freudian about these signs... This is one of several similar cryptic signs which help point the way to the Mount Moresby trailhead.
The Haida language seems to use a lot of A's! At the trailhead, Sonny tries to prop up this sign which had fallen down.  The sign gives the Haida name for Mount Moresby.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Hopefully, Wil Tabak never comes here to remove all the flagging tape! The trail is overgrown in places but well-marked with flagging tape.
Yikes! Where's a chainsaw when you need one? Occasionally, the route is choked with unpleasant deadfall.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Second breakfast? Ripe huckleberries provide a welcome diversion from the steep uphill grind.
Aid climbing! Zosia climbs up the first of two fixed ropes along a very steep section of the route.
At least for going up... The second fixed rope seems superfluous.
Nice to see the blue sky!

The forest begins to thin out as Zosia climbs higher.

Most of the mundane stuff is behind us now! Far-reaching views begin to open up with Cumshewa Inlet visible at right.
It's amazing that there is still snow here in August. Zosia heads up a gully aiming for the notch at left.
Could be a bit sketchy if wet or snowy here. From the notch, the route makes an airy traverse across a steep grassy slope.
Possibly a nice ski slope here in winter? Zosia scrambles up easy terrain in a rocky bowl.
We got this! Zosia hikes up the final easy section before the top.
How do you like my $40 Walmart boots? Zosia and Sonny relax on the summit of Mount Moresby (1159 metres), the highest point in Haida Gwaii.
Many of them are probably also unclimbed. Numerous unnamed mountains stretch away to the south.
Best view of the entire trip to Haida Gwaii! A couple of high alpine lakes and Peel Inlet highlight the million-dollar view to the southwest.  The Pacific Ocean is also visible on the horizon.
Canada's secret nuclear arsenal? A green rocket sits at the end of the summit ridge to the northwest.
You can also spot Sleeping Beauty (Slatechuck Mountain and Mount Raymond) on the left horizon. Mosquito Lake stands out in this view to the north.

Second best view of the day!

Skidegate Lake, Cumshewa Inlet and Newcombe Peak round out the view to the northeast.  Snow-capped peaks on the British Columbia mainland are also visible on the horizon.


Zzzzzzzzzzzz... Sonny takes a well-deserved break just below the summit.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Too bad we couldn't take advantage of the long snow slope. Zosia carefully makes her way down into the rocky bowl.
Best-tasting water on Haida Gwaii! Sonny cools off under a refreshingly cold waterfall.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

The rope wasn't totally necessary, but it helps! Sonny makes full use of the upper fixed rope.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Not easy with a heavy pack! Lena descends the more challenging section on the lower fixed rope.

Zosia stretches her leg out on the most awkward spot to descend.

Thank you, Lena!

Zosia, Lena and Sonny pose for a celebratory photo back at their cars.  Zosia is holding up some dehydrated food generously given to her by Lena.

A beautiful end to a beautiful day.

Here is a final view of Mount Moresby from Mosquito Lake.


A deservedly rewarding climb...just do it! Total Distance:  13.6 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  10 hours 58 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1053 metres

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