Golden Ears

October 21, 2018


Golden Ears Provincial Park, BC

The dual summits of Golden Ears are the namesake peak of Golden Ears Provincial Park. Together with its satellite spires the massif is very recognizable and visible from almost anywhere in the Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley or the peaks in its broad vicinity. It’s also one of the 60+ peaks of SW BC with 1000+ meters of prominence. This peak is famous. Almost everyone I talked to knows such a place called “Golden Ears” although much fewer has ambition to make the summit. There’s a maintained trail heading all the way to the summit but such “trail” is more like a “route” in my honest opinion. The standard of this trail is far below average that I wouldn’t recommend to anybody but experienced hikers and scramblers. Attaining the summit is also a huge physical fair with 30+ km of round trip distance along with 1600+ meters of cumulative elevation gain. An ascent of Golden Ears had surely been on my list ever since I moved back to Vancouver in the fall of 2015, but after studying these mountains in depth I had decided to save it until I do Edge Peak via White Dyke. It makes perfect sense to not slog up that boring Golden Ears Trail two times.

Edge Peak – Golden Ears Traverse route. GPX DL

This day eventually came in the late October of 2018 towards the end of an unseasonably dry period. Earlier in this day Lily, Vlad and I had made an ascent of Edge Peak via White Dyke. After some complicated route-finding, bush thrashing and two rappels we were now down at Edge/Golden Ears col heading for the upper shoulder of Golden Ears. Once joining the main trail we all took a lengthy, but much needed break and then ditched backpacks to lighten our loads. Both Lily and Vlad had previously ascended the summit but to my surprise they decided to join me on this last 150 vertical meters. There’s little to document about the hike. The trail was a bit rough with rock steps at places but nothing worth noting by our standard. In about half an hour we made to the summit soaking in the expansive vistas. After climbing so many peaks in SW BC I have to say this summit view would rank pretty damn high on my favourate list..

Vlad and Lily traversing onto Golden Ear’s shoulder from Edge Peak

Ribbons on the trail with Edge Peak behind

Vlad high up on Golden Ears Trail

A sideways view into the upper Pitt Lake

The last push to the summit

Summit Panorama from Golden Ears. Click to view large size.

Pitt Lake in its full glory

This is a northern view into some very remote country

Blanshard Needle with the Fraser Valley flats behind

Looking directly across Pitt Lake into Coquitlam Mountain area

Katzie Mountain

Old Pierre Mountain and Remote Peak

This is the very remote Fire Spires area

Mt. Judge Howay

Mt. Robie Reid

A sea of peaks looking south-east into the lower Chehalis area

Robertson Peak

Mt. Baker on the horizon over the summit of Edge Peak

Another view of Blanshard Needle

Lily on the summit of Golden Ears

Edge Peak and Blanshard Needle

Me on the summit of Golden Ears

Our group shot on the summit of Golden Ears

As good as the views got the time was getting on us. Vlad and Lily said that we should be off the alpine ridge section before dark and I agreed. Descending back to where we ditched the backpacks went by easily but then the next section did involve some degree of route-finding on slabs and boulders. The trail was very vaguely defined until we got down into the emergency shelter. Past the shelter we spent some time admiring the incredible sunset scenery but again we had to soldier on. Into the woods the trail still did some annoying up-and-downs on some bumps before plunging steeply down into the forest. This was when we had to pull the headlamps out. There’s not much worth documenting for the next few hours’ mindless slog other than the quality of this trail. It sucked balls with lots of roots and rocks along with one long stretch of rubble-fuck that felt more like a dry creek bed. The grade was either too steep or too flat.

Descending the uppermost trail

Hiking down the slabs city

It’s amazing that this tarn was still frozen from the last winter

Pitt Lake in evening glory

Evening alpenglow on an unnamed north sub-summit

It’s sunset time!!

Evening glow on Mt. Judge Howay

The Five Fingers area and the evening horizon

Evening glow on Mt. Robie Reid

Mt. Baker to the south

Almost a full moon tonight!!

There are ladders everywhere adding to the fun

Descending in dark for hours and hours…

Eventually we stumbled back to the parking lot at 9:20 pm and our round trip time was almost 13 hours, pretty much as expected. The gate was of course closed but we didn’t have to phone the park rangers because one patrol was already there looking for some overdued hikers. We did met those hikers and estimated that they would probably be half an hour behind us. The patrol said that he had to wait for those guys before driving down to the gate and unlock it.. Oh well… Meanwhile I got the stoves going and cooked some instant noodles… Speaking the ascent of Golden Ears I would NOT recommend to beginner hikers. This trail might can be considered as “well built” by west coast standard but in reality, far below average for those coming from Canadian Rockies or Washington.