Trip Report
South Ridge of Gimli Peak - A Lesser-Known Canadian Classic
Thursday October 17, 2013 9:01pm
The fantasy-like Gimli Peak, gateway to the Valhalla Range in Canada's...
The fantasy-like Gimli Peak, gateway to the Valhalla Range in Canada's British Columbia interior, seen from the trailhead.
Credit: PellucidWombat

July 27, 2013 - The Approach
As the dust settled and we emerged from our transport vessel, curious natives approached us one by one, to greet us and inquire as to how we could have made it here in one piece. With the looks we got, and the repetitious approach, license plate inspection, greet, and inquiry that each hiker did, one at a time during the hour we spent packing, I felt a bit as if we were aliens who had just arrived from outer space.

Signs of travel.

Of course we weren't. Just two Utahns eager to climb. The poor weather forecast for the Bugaboos got me and Alec to change our plans, and stop by Gimli Peak in the Valhalla Range on our way to our main objective on our long trip out from Salt Lake City. The final drive was reputed to be a rough dirt road, that was maybe passable in a Subaru. We didn't have a Subaru, nor 4WD, but no one said that was required. However, due to cut funding for Provincial Parks in British Columbia, the road has gotten into much worse shape since the travel information had been written. Fortunately, we were driving Alec's car, and he has had some wild times driving it through a lot of rugged desert country. We nearly bottomed out twice, but barely made it to the trailhead thanks to Alec's bold and skillful driving. Everyone else at the trailhead was in a truck, SUV, or some other high clearance or 4WD vehicle, so naturally they ventured over to investigate this unexpected vehicle and where it was from!

The three summit of Mt Prestley towering above the dirt road on the way to Gimli. The dirt road is fine here but gets very bad near the end.

The trailhead was surprisingly crowded for such an out-of-the way place, with German tourists, a large group of French Canadians from Quebec, and a variety of other travelers. Fortunately most of the crowd was either coming out, or only doing the class 3 scramble up Gimli. There was one other party vying for our route, but in the end they joined their friends on the class 3 and we had this classic line all to ourselves!

Alec and his car ready to go. The wire mesh is to keep rubber-eating porcupines from getting in and eating the tires! I think our mesh extends high enough to keep bears out, too.

I was attracted to this route after first seeing Steph Abegg's TR on her website, and later seeing Eric & Lucie's account on their website. Its inclusion in lists such as North American Classic Climbs and Fred Beckey's 100 Favorite North American Climbs further reinforced for me the idea that this place was well worth visiting, even though it was out of the way of most other international climbing destinations in BC, and few other climbing friends of mine had heard of it (Alec included). I am very glad that we made this detour! The scenery was beautiful, the campsite was wonderful, mountain goats plentiful and friendly, and the climbing was excellent. Although it can be climbed car-to-car reasonable enough, the bivy at the base is so nice that I'd say it would be a shame to do it this way unless you are pressed for time. There is even a toilet and food storage lockers, so there is no need to worry about packing in or out extra gear like a bear canister or wag bags. We hiked in the evening we arrived, then did the climb, descended, and drove to Revelstoke the following day.

The South Ridge was originally rated 5.8, but has since been re-rated in some sources to 5.10, with the big roof seeming to be the most commonly considered crux of the route. I felt like a section on P1 was harder, and the topo in Beckey's book shows this lower crux at a comparable rating. The lower crux was more committing and physical, but straightforward on the moves, while the upper crux is intimidating and requires some thinking, but it can be well protected and is only a couple of moves, although height can play a big role in how hard those moves are. Still, compared to climbs I have done in Yosemite, the High Sierra, and Southern Utah, I'd say 5.10 is a generous rating for the route. It really is more like 5.9- to 5.9+, so solid 5.9 leaders shouldn't be discouraged from getting on this one.

The route itself is surprisingly steep for being mostly 5.7, and it is like this due to all of the horizontal dike bands. It reminds me of an alpine version of some of the climbing classics at Lover's Leap.

Gimli Peak seen from the trailhead. The south ridge climbs the line between light and shadow directly to the top, then over to the true summit on the right.

The trail is steep, but easy hiking, with about 2,500 ft of gain in 2.37mi. Backpacking in for the night, we made it up there in 1 hour and 20 minutes of hard hiking. The terrain was just right for making the pace and exertion like that of a good aerobic workout, similar to some of the bike rides I like to do.

Nearing the campsites. We took a less direct way up and over the mound on the left of the snow patch, but the more correct way is to stay to the right of the snowfield.

As I neared the camp, this mountain goat trotted down the trail from the site to greet me.

He stopped about 10 feet away and would not get off of the trail. As I didn't want to provoke any charging, I waited until he would move - which he wouldn't do!

Friendly mountain goat overstaying his welcome. Let me pass!

There's something crazy in those eyes.

At last he steps off the trail and lets me pass, but this wouldn't be the last that I'd see of the mountain goats.

Gimli Peak and its awesome S Ridge on the right, seen from camp.

Just to warn you all, the mountain goats here are plentiful and VERY friendly. They seem to leave your food well enough alone, but if you give any indication that you might be urinating, they will descend upon you like a pack of piranhas! It is difficult not to pee on them. One also followed me over to the toilet and stood on top of the rock behind, peering right down at me a few feet away - some privacy, please?

Mountain goats. They were more than just indifferent to our presence, they were drawn to us!

As we set up camp, an entire family of mountain goats trotted down from the slopes above to hang out with us. They hung around all day and the next day after we came down, sometimes hanging out, sometimes coming up to us.

Mamma & baby goats.

Little mountain goats at play.

Little mountain goats at play.

Alec settling in for the night at our sweet campsite behind a massive wind wall. We also brought up some cheese & a bottle of wine to have with dinner.

Gimli Peak at night.

Gimli Peak at night.

July 28, 2013 - South Ridge of Gimli Peak
We had a leisurely start as we were camped only 15 minutes from the base of the climb. We enjoyed breakfast and started the first pitch at 8:20 am. It took us 4:40 to climb the 7 pitches and scramble to the summit, and about an hour to descend. We would have been faster on climbing time, but lost a lot of time working out a stuck rope problem on the big roof pitch.

2013-07-28 - Prestley Peaks to the West.

Nisleheim Peak to the West, forming a pass next to Gimli that a well worn path passes through.

P1 of the S Ridge of Gimli Peak. A long, sustained and classic pitch, one of the best on the rout and, in my opinion, the crux. Face climb far on the left and back right into the corner without pro to start.

P1, looking at the crux, a hard undercling. I thought this was more committing and nearly as difficult as the big roof crux higher on the route. The second little roof was fun, too.

Alec leading P2.

Alec leading P2. Unfortunately this pitch eased up in a hurry and was then mostly a scramble.

Looking down P2. Getting some air!

Alec on the comfy belay pedestal atop P2. I stepped across onto the face to lead P3.

Looking up P3, which has a lot of thin, airy face climbing. Seeking cracks for pro and more comfortable climbing, I went too far right and around the corner, but found my way back to the ridge crest on a ledge a short ways above the 'official' ending ledge with a small tree. This way worked well enough and I marked it as a variation in my route annotations.

Alec leading the remainder of P4, a fun but short 5.6 lieback, before the terrain eased up dramatically before the big grassy ledge.

Wolfs Ears to the east.

The P4 and P5 with the big roof crux on the South Ridge of Gimli Peak.

Alec looking up P5, a sustained and classic 5.8 crack. As I felt bad that he had gotten the only two boring pitches of the climb, I offered this pitch to him, also thinking he was still going to lead the roof above.

Alec leading P5 as it recedes into the sky.

Alec leading P5 as it recedes into the sky.

Following P5, an excellent 5.8 crack!

The 'crux' roof looms above on P6. Originally rated 5.8, this route's rating was bumped to 5.10a due to this. Alec offered me the lead, so off I went! Very easy climbing up into the roof, where I had to figure out how to make the big step left.

Mark leading the crux pitch (5.9+) of the South ridge. (by Alec LaLonde)

Alec leading P6 to finish the route. Basically cl. 4 apart from the short 5.7 step that he was on, then it eases back into class 3 and then class 2. I'd recommend halfing the rope and simul-climbing to the summit for this pitch.

The easy 'scramble' to the false summit, the main summit lies beyond. I read that it was cl. 3-4 getting over there . . . but it was only cl. 2!

Asgard Peak seen from the summit of Gimli Peak.

Gladsheim Peak seen from the summit of Gimli Peak.

Wolfs Ears (right) and Mount Dag seen from the summit of Mt Gimli. As the afternoon came on, it rained all around us but never quite on us!

Panorama from the summit of Gimli Peak. Mt Prestley, Prestley NE0, Midgard Peak Asgard Peak, Gladsheim Peak.

Mt Prestley & Prestley NE0 seen from the summit of Gimli Peak. Woden Peak is behind to the right.

Midgard Peak. behind to the right are Devil's Dome (far right) and Dark Prince Peak (left of Devil's), and the summit on the left is Mt Bor. The ridgeline joining them has summits going left to right as Lucifer Peak, Trident Peak, Rosemary's Baby, and Mount Mephistopheles.

Looking down the East Ridge as we descended. This is marked by a large cairn about 200 ft NW from the obvious summit. It is a little steep at the top, but only light class 4. It quickly eases to class 3 and mostly class 2 for the descent, and is very straightforward once you find the entry-exit on the summit ridge.

The imposing East Face of Gimli Peak, seen on the descent. This is home to many 5.12 climbs. The South Ridge is seen on the left, from about P4 to the top.

Rounding the tip of the South Ridge of Gimli Peak as we returned to camp.

The South Ridge of Gimli Peak.

Gimli Peak seen on the hike down.

Maps & Annotations

Approach map of the drive to the main Valhalla Trailhead from Slocan, British Columbia

Closeup Map of the Gimli Peak area of the Valhalla Range

South Ridge of Gimli Peak (III, 5.8+ or 5.10a, 7P)

South Ridge of Gimli Peak (III, 5.8+ or 5.10a, 7P)

South Ridge of Gimli Peak (III, 5.8+ or 5.10a, 7P)

If you want to see where SLocan, the nearest town is, click here: Driving Directions from Slocan

If you want to see the hike, climb, and descent overlaid on Google Maps, where you can also view satellite layers and Google Earth mode, check out the beginning this TR on my website:Personal Website

Picasa Album

Other Bugs/BC Rock Climbing Trip Reports
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South Howser Tower (Beckey-Chouinard)
Crescent Tower (Lion's Way) - A Great R&R (Rain & Relaxation) Climb
Bugaboo Spire (NE Ridge)

  Trip Report Views: 10,224
About the Author
PellucidWombat is a mountain climber from Berkeley, CA.

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Comment on this Trip Report

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Oct 17, 2013 - 09:07pm PT
Dude! Awesome TR, as always!

The goat only wanted to lick yer sweaty legs or drink yer pee.
I usually let 'em lick my legs. It feels great!

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Oct 17, 2013 - 09:19pm PT
oh hell yes! excellent !

Gym climber
Great White North
  Oct 17, 2013 - 09:18pm PT
f*#k yeah!

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
Author's Reply  Oct 17, 2013 - 09:23pm PT
The goat only wanted to lick yer sweaty legs or drink yer pee.
I usually let 'em lick my legs. It feels great!

Quite the unusual symbiotic relationship, but as pushy as the goats are, they never quite cross the line! :-)

Social climber
Lida Junction
  Oct 17, 2013 - 09:33pm PT
TFPU. Mark, thanks for keeping it real.

A long way from where I started
  Oct 17, 2013 - 09:44pm PT
Sometimes Plan B turns out to be just as good as -- or better than -- Plan A. Looks like this was one of those times.

Social climber
  Oct 17, 2013 - 10:16pm PT
Great photos and story. South Face of Gimli's on my list, for day.....

In the meantime this is the next best thing!

The Good Places
  Oct 17, 2013 - 11:38pm PT
looks like a blast!

Oakland, CA
  Oct 18, 2013 - 12:33am PT
What a line. WOW! Thanks for posting, Mark!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Oct 18, 2013 - 01:17am PT
What kind of rock is that? Gneiss? Sandstone?

Asgard is a stunning peak!!!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Oct 18, 2013 - 01:24am PT
great TR Mark, as usual

keep it up!

Trad climber
British Columbia, Canada
  Oct 18, 2013 - 02:30am PT
Dude you're letting the secret out... the first rule of climbing in Canada is you do not talk about climbing in Canada, this things gonna have lineups like Nutcracker before long

Seriously though great TR, I've a few friends who've climbed it, all say it is awesome, many go back to do it again.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Oct 18, 2013 - 02:41am PT
Officially on the list.


Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
Author's Reply  Oct 18, 2013 - 03:11am PT
What kind of rock is that? Gneiss? Sandstone?

According to, it is a gneiss intrusion. It seemed like something between granite in the Bugaboos and the gneiss that I've seen in the Tetons. There is some interesting etymology info on that website page as well.

the first rule of climbing in Canada is you do not talk about climbing in Canada

I figure the uncertain weather would still keep the crowds at bay. Plus, I gotta divert attention from all of this choss that we have here in the High Sierra. Yep, nothing but choss ;-)

  Oct 18, 2013 - 08:52am PT
Gneiss Trip report! Thanks!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Oct 18, 2013 - 09:08am PT
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  Oct 18, 2013 - 09:16am PT
Very cool! Great photos, thanks for taking the time to post up!!!

  Oct 18, 2013 - 10:20am PT
Wow, that's about the most informative TR I've ever read, thanks. That peak was off the radar for me, but it sure looks like a nice route.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 18, 2013 - 10:26am PT

Ice climber
great white north
  Oct 18, 2013 - 10:56am PT
Climbed it twice, well worth it.
Don't wear a slippery nylon jacket on the first pitch.
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
  Oct 18, 2013 - 12:29pm PT
Truly great looking rock.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 18, 2013 - 09:26pm PT
Awesome Mark and thank you!!!!
Looks like An amazing setting,
How does that route compare to Irene's arÍte in rock quality and difficulty??
?How was the rock quality?????

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Oct 18, 2013 - 10:06pm PT
I love that your TR's are usually odd climbs, the adventure is what's it's all about! Thanks for yet another guidebook quality TR!


Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Oct 18, 2013 - 10:22pm PT
Thank you! Great pictures too!

Social climber
  Oct 19, 2013 - 03:05am PT
These goats are both a pleasure and a problem.

Gimli is in a provincial park, and the wardens are concerned that the goats are now way too habituated. They lick the minerals from urine, toothpaste etc, and eat any food scraps left out. There is a possibility that the area may be closed to hikers and climbers if the goats continue to hang out at the campsite.

Although Gimli is in a park, hunting goats there is still allowed. No, I have no idea why. A couple of years ago a hunter shot a goat at the campsite, in full view of the hikers and climbers. Hard to miss at a range of ten yards or less! Lucky he wasn't lynched. Despite a huge public outcry, the hunting is still permitted.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Oct 19, 2013 - 03:23am PT
Mineral King has the same parking vermin, or maybe they're marmots?

Good driving! Good trip!

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  Oct 19, 2013 - 03:43am PT
Nice Mark - always fun to read TRs.

Just curious = what do you bring for camera gear?

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
  Oct 19, 2013 - 03:54pm PT
The South Ridge was originally rated 5.8

The South Ridge was given 5.7 on the FA. Done in full shank leather boots, too.

It still feels like 5.7++

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
Author's Reply  Oct 21, 2013 - 03:54pm PT
How does that route compare to Irene's arÍte in rock quality and difficulty??
?How was the rock quality?????

Rock quality was maybe an 8 or 9 out of 10. I'd say it felt on par with Irene's Arete for difficulty in some ways (This is including the 5.9+ finish that I took on Irene's).

These goats are both a pleasure and a problem.

I was wondering about that. My experience with mountain goats has been that they keep their distance, and you usually see them as they kick rocks down on you as they are running away. It's a shame to hear about the hunter. Some of my family hunts, and I can understand and respect the sport, but shooting habituated animals at close range is anything but sportsman-like. :-/

Just curious = what do you bring for camera gear?

Val, for the night photos I use a Nikon D40 DSLR. It is getting pretty antiquated at this point, but a big plus is that it is a lot lighter than most other DSLRs.

For the rest of the shots, I've been using a Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS.

The South Ridge was given 5.7 on the FA

Yikes! Ratings reflect a little difference in difficulty these days . . .

Trad climber
under the sea
  Oct 21, 2013 - 04:44pm PT
Yay goats (I like goats)

Really enjoy all the quality TR's you post as well ;)

Boulder climber
Almost solving the metaphysical mystery
  Oct 29, 2013 - 12:41pm PT
Thank you for the great trip report. Have not climbed in BC for a long, long time, so thanks for the great photos and report. Great job! :)


Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Oct 29, 2013 - 01:17pm PT
rad looking fortress

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Oct 30, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
Boo yah! Tolkien style tower falls to highly motivated team! The stuff dream TRs are made of. Thanks for great photos and a fun trip!

k trout

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
  Oct 30, 2013 - 11:46pm PT
Mount Gimli, West Face <br/>
by K Trout
Mount Gimli, West Face
by K Trout
Credit: k trout
I'm pretty sure the 5.12s are actually on the West Face, not the East Face as shown in Pellucid Wombat's photo. On the other hand, I would have to say that Mr Wombat's trip report is the best I've seen for Gimli. Incredibly good maps. Thank you for your hard work and valuable beta!

In the top photo I posted, the 1,000 foot overhanging prow sector of Mt. Gimli's West Face, there is one 5.12d and one 5.11d reported on One of them is well described in the local guidebook (West Kootenay Rock Guide, Aaron Kristiansen and Vince Hempsall, 2009, sold at Valhalla Pure the Nelson BC climbing shop). That books only describes two routes on the East Face, a 5.10 and 5.11 variation to the Southeast Ridge. Or to put it another way, there is a ton to be done.

Local guide, David Lussier, is working on a guide book for the Valhallas (

Posting cost-free climbing beta for anyone interested in British Columbia is a hobby of mine.
Mt Gimli, West Face
Mt Gimli, West Face
Credit: k trout

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
Author's Reply  Nov 1, 2013 - 08:54pm PT
K Trout, thanks for the corrections, links and the kudos! The Valhallas definitely are an area I want to return to for more alpine fun.

  Nov 1, 2013 - 09:25pm PT
Great report and howdy to Ken Trout -we climbed together in leavenworth in 1980!

Social climber
  Nov 1, 2013 - 10:25pm PT
Great TR and another hallooo to Ken Trout.

Love the goat clips.


  Nov 11, 2013 - 07:27pm PT

(As a reminder = BBST = donini for Bump for a Better SuperTopo)

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jul 1, 2014 - 03:01pm PT
This needs resurfacing
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Jul 1, 2014 - 05:38pm PT
Stellar report as always Mark. TFPU

right here, right now
  Sep 9, 2015 - 08:12am PT
Looks like good rock for climbing!

Social climber
  Sep 9, 2015 - 08:55am PT
A great TR "bump"
John Morton

  Sep 9, 2015 - 09:19am PT
I suggest giving mountain goats a wide berth. A local man hiking near Hurricane Ridge (Olympic NP) was gored by a goat, which then stood guard over him while he bled to death.

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Sep 9, 2015 - 12:09pm PT
As ever, a quality TR PW, TFPU!


Trad climber
  May 12, 2017 - 01:59pm PT
Friday afternoon office reading ... bump for an awesome TR!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 13, 2017 - 03:03am PT
I really miss the wombats TRs,
Mark I hope you are well and able to climb after your surgery!
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
  May 13, 2017 - 03:32am PT
A retrieval of an excellent share! Thank you Ezra.
Tom Patterson

Trad climber
  May 13, 2017 - 03:49am PT
As always, a great TR! Thanks for this, PW!

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
Author's Reply  May 17, 2017 - 08:22am PT
I really miss the wombats TRs,
Mark I hope you are well and able to climb after your surgery!

Hopefully I can begin posting some again soon. I have a backlog of some somewhat off-topic reports that are still about outdoor adventuring that the Taco-sters might enjoy.

Recovery has taken longer as I ended up losing my toes to frostbite (took most of a year) just as I recovered from my knee surgeries (1 turned into 3 combined on both legs!). The toe loss then required me to have ankle surgery (Brostrom repair) last September to avoid worsening damage from rolled ankles. I am back to leading about 5.6 right now, but my crack & wide technique seem as strong as ever! I just need to lose some weight, regain my fitness, and work out climbing with the missing toes as my post-op ankle strengthens. I just moved back to Salt Lake, so hopefully closer access to the mountains will accelerate my recovery... :-)

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  May 17, 2017 - 08:59am PT
Wombat you are one of The Taco's MVPs. Thanks for all your stoke and so sorry to hear about the hard road you've been on lately. Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures!


Trad climber
  May 17, 2017 - 12:03pm PT
The rock is a mix of quartzite and gneiss.
A person could do a great quartzite tour in BC and Alberta including:
Blanket Creek
Revelstoke (Mt Begbie and Waterworld)
Sir Donald
Back of Lake Louise
Highway 93 to Jasper including Lost Boys

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 17, 2017 - 04:42pm PT
Sounds like quite a journey Mark, surgery is never fun.
I am stoked that you are back out climbing in the great state of Utah,
With your work ethic and passion you will be back in top form soon I'm sure!

For better or worse Work required I move to the east coast, otherwise I'd offer hit you up for an adventure.

I hope Utard is treating you well Sir!!!

Keep fighting the good fight.

Social climber
  May 17, 2017 - 11:12pm PT
Climbing Gimli BITD, when headbands, big specs and Fires were cool. At least they were cool here in the Koots.

Starting P2.
Starting P2.
Credit: M. Conder

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
  May 19, 2017 - 09:35am PT
^^ Looks like Ballets not Fires.
David Knopp

Trad climber
  May 19, 2017 - 09:40am PT
hey Mark, hate to be nosey, but what happened to your toes? Did i miss something? If you don't want to talk about it thats cool, i wish you all the best in your recovery.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
Author's Reply  May 23, 2017 - 05:53pm PT
On my second mountaineering outing out post-knee surgeries, lots of little things went wrong in just the right way for me to end up with a block of compacted snow/ice in the toe box of my boot, with my toes pressed against it for 12-14 hrs. Funny thing is I could feel and wriggle each toe independently, but I couldn't feel the toes pressing against the ice! I only discovered the problem when I took my boot off for a break. I then had to snowshoe 1,000' up to Taboose Pass and then descend 6,000 ft to the car.

That damaged the frostbite enough for me to lose the last joint of my big toe, last 2 joints of my 'index' toe, and badly scarred two more toes. Took nearly a year for the autoamputation to run its course and then have cleanup surgery on the protruding bone. Still, it could have been a lot worse, as I had contracted cellulitis and spent a week in the hospital with the possibility of losing all my toes to the base, if not my foot. I might write a trip report about it later, as naturally I took photos of the healing process ;-P
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