“Gloria Peak” (Chilliwack)

March 1, 2023


Chilliwack, BC

“Gloria Peak” is the unofficial name of the forested high point above Gloria Lookout. The hike to the lookout is very popular among the locals and can been extended all the way south to Mt. Thurston while traversing over “Gloria Peak”. Few except for the peak-baggers are aware of such a “peak” due to the lack of a proper name. This peak does boast over 200 m clean prominence above Gloria/Thurston saddle making it an independent summit, but I don’t like the name. It’s not even on bivouac.com. I would rather call it “Peak 1579” but whatever. At least the person who entered this name to the database of peakbagger.com didn’t come up with some random stuffs like his/her mom, dad, dog or sister. Naming it “Gloria Peak” due to the proximity to Gloria Lookout seems acceptable so I’ll use this unofficial name from now onward. To be honest I wasn’t even aware of this peak until a day or two earlier when Raphael Smith made the suggestion, even though I’ve already done a shit ton amount of peaks in the vicinity of Chilliwack.

Raphael eventually convinced me to do this as a before-work exercise even though I was more keen to go south into Washington state for simpler peaks. There had been fair amount of new snow even down to sea level so I was expecting some heinous trail-breaking for a peak above 1500 m elevation, but whatever. We agreed to drive out separately and meet at the trail-head at 6 am as Raphael insisted to do Mt. Thurston in the same trip. I had already bagged that peak in Oct. 2015 via Elk Mountain and had absolutely no interest to repeat, so I would descend and go home while he continued. I would rather catch some sleep at home afterwards. The drive to the trail-head actually gains a few hundred meters of elevation and the roads turned unpaved towards the end. Thankfully the locals did a great job clearing the snow as otherwise we wouldn’t even be able to access the trail-head.

“Gloria Peak” via Gloria Lookout Trail. GPX DL

The morning was dark and frigid and my mood was low after pulling an all-nighter. My sleeping schedule had been messed up such that I gave up at 2 am and just killed several hours by watching Chinese TV dramas. I rolled out at 4:30 am and did not catch a single minute of sleep, but that’s fine. The start of this hike was to link up some biking trails and that was confusing as hell. I had to consult with the GPS multiple times to make sure we picked the most efficient path. I even led us taking some short-cuts through bushes but in the pitch dark the oppourtunities weren’t very obvious. Later on the descent I took a ton lot more short-cuts. The path eventually converged at 450 m elevation to “Gloria Lookout Trail” but the footprints had also disappeared. It’s apparent that nobody had gone this far up after the storm so we would be breaking trail on our own for most of this ascent. The snow depth didn’t really change much for the next hour-ish so the snowshoes weren’t strapped on until almost 1100 m elevation, but boy this trail was steep and slippery. I had come up anticipating that so I opted to wear the Trango Tech mountaineering boots and was able to tip-toe/edge up using some climbing techniques. Raphael on the other hand, slipped a lot more in his hiking boots.

A few hundred meters later we could turn off head-lamps
Raphael slipping and sliding up the steep trail
One of the few annoying downed logs…
Typical, typical…

Despite the snowpack the trail was very easy to follow with flagging for every 10 meters or so, so we were able to stay on the trail until much higher. From 1400 m I led us veering climber’s left of the trail since we weren’t be doing Gloria Lookout and preferred to aim straight towards the summit. We would actually like to check out that viewpoint (with 100+ m elevation loss that must be regained later) but the weather was mediocre so the reward to effort ratio would be too low to justify. The plod across the broad and forested NW flanks to the summit of “Gloria Peak” dragged on for a long time. The trail-breaking was very arduous. The summit was completely forested but I had previously studied the satellite images and noticed an open bluff slightly to the south. I led us there and sure enough we found some views. But again, the weather wasn’t cooperating so the result wasn’t that satisfying.

Heavy duty trail-breaking on snowshoes
I’m not interested in religion but this is kinda cool..
Raphael arriving at the true, viewless summit of “Gloria Peak”
A glimpse of view towards Vedder Peak and Fraser Valley
Me at the viewpoint about 10m under the summit

I had no interest in lingering any longer than necessary as I didn’t bring enough warm clothing for the -10C temperatures especially after sweating so much like a pig, so I immediately started the descent. I mostly just followed our own snowshoe tracks and made a snowshoe-to-bootpack transition at around 1000 m elevation. The descent on foot wasn’t as treacherous as I thought and I actually enjoyed slipping and sliding down the steep trail. Again, wearing mountaineering boots was definitely the correct call. Lower down I entered that maze of MTB trails and made numerous short-cuts and got back to the truck in exactly 5 hours round trip. I immediately drove away and got a text message in Abbotsford that Raphael had finally reached the summit of Mt. Thurston. That seemed like a very slow process so I was glad to not participate in that section of the suffering. I eventually got back home with 2 hours of spare before work.

One mandatory photo from the descent.
Back to the maze of mountain biking trails.