Runner Peak

July 29, 2021


North Shore Mountains, BC

Runner Peak is a small but pointy summit buried behind Mt. Seymour on the north side and is much less frequently ascended. I think it has gained a lot of attention and popularities these years especially given the inclusion in the Bagger Challenge list but regardless the list this is a decent objective off the beaten path. I had thought about to make this a winter ascent but such required some critical conditions and once the desired conditions arrived I always ended up on some (bigger) objectives. This peak can also be a pleasant scramble in summer and doing it this way had virtually zero risk for the experienced. Matt J. happened to need this peak for his Bagger Challenge thing and I decided to join at the last minute. We made the decision while hiking Leading Peak the day before.

Matt had been all over the places in Mt. Seymour area over the past 20 years whereas I had never gone past Pump Peak in the summer time so all I needed was to follow his lead. Matt said that we only needed a Cliff bar and a water bottle as the trip would only be 2.5 hours long. I was not as fast as him but I decided to go light as well, carrying a bit of food, water and sunscreen in my 20 L pack, one trekking pole and nothing else. We met in North Vancouver at around 10 am so for once in a while we enjoyed a day-trip that did not require setting up a wake-up alarm. The drive up Mt. Seymour parkway was uneventful. The parking lot was neither busy nor buggy.

Runner Peak loop. GPX DL

We made the spontaneous decision to take Mystery Lake trail instead of the main Mt. Seymour trail and this provided some variety. We continued passed the lake on the east side and ascended to the very top of Brockton Point. The actual summit of that thing is at the top of a chairlift so we went there and marked the “dot” green on our peakbagger app. Personally I did not count Brockton Point as a summit though. We then joined the main trail and ascended to a major split in the trail system. From there we took the Elsay Lake trail descending at least 200 m down into a major bowl. There was a lovely stream of running water to load up our water bottles just as Matt predicted and beyond that we easily traversed into the “SE Gully” that would eventually bring us to Runner/Seymour col.

Matt posing at Mystery Lake
Twig taking a swim in Mystery Lake right at the start of the trip
Me slogging up the “south face of Brockton Point”….
Me on the “summit” of Brockton Point…
Joining the main Seymour trail at last..
Taking the Elsay Lake trail with a massive elevation loss ahead
Our objective, Runner Peak comes in view
Me with Runner Peak behind.
Matt walking towards the obvious ascent gully

We stayed on the climber’s left side of the gully at first and discovered a cool snow cave feature. We went in and scrambled out of the other side and that was probably the most memorable moment of this trip. A short but steep down-climb then brought us into the gully proper. The ascent of this gully was not very pleasant with some loose rocks thrown in but the upper portion was not that bad as we were just scrambling on stable boulders.

At the base of the gully we stayed on the climber’s left side
We went in to check out a snow cave
It turned out that we could scramble out of it, so why not…
Me scrambling out of the snow cave
Matt tackling a section of wet and slippery scramble in the gully
Me on a slippery and bushy spot.
Matt higher up in the gully. The bushy parts were short-lived
This is the loose stretch. Twig knocked a rock down and my arm still hurts now…
This is that massive boulder field under the east side of Runner/Seymour col

At just beyond Runner/Seymour col we joined the flagged path that came up from the other side, and scrambled up onto the south face of Runner Peak. The going was easy except for a 10-m section of 3rd class slabs. There were plenty of holds and the exposure was pretty tame, so in no time we were above the crux and shortly after we were on the summit. Matt spent at least 5 minutes trying to find that whiskey while I used that same time to eat the two sandwiches that I brought up. The day’s longer and hotter than expected.

Matt surveying the route on the south face of Runner Peak
Matt starting the 3rd class section
Looking back at the north face of Mt. Seymour
Twig knew where exactly to go on this 3rd class slab
Matt above the crux section now
Me on the upper slopes not far under the summit
Summit Panorama from Runner Peak. Click to view large size.
Cathedral Mountain is the grand daddy of beast of the North Shore.
Crown Mountain and “Spindle Peak” and their east faces
Atwell Peak/Mt. Garibaldi massive looming on the northern skyline
The south face of Meslilloet Mountain
Matt taking a selfie from the true summit cairn
Matt with Mt. Elsay behind
Twig with Mt. Burwell behind
This is looking down into Indian Arm with the Eagle Ridge bumps behind
Me on the summit of Runner Peak
Matt looking at his “Bishop’s Bump” center shot background
Our group shot on the summit of Runner Peak

On the descent we opted to check out the “other side” to make a loop. There’s one snowfield on the west side of Runner/Seymour col but the glissade was bit too bumpy and fast for my like. At the bottom of the snowfield we found the trail and followed it around the west side of Mt. Seymour with some major up-and-downs. The re-ascent towards Seymour/Tim Jones col was soul-crushing in this heat but we found another (smaller) stream of cold water to fill up the bottles. The rest of the descent from Tim Jones Peak back out via the main trail was rather uneventful. I eventually sped up a little bit but still couldn’t catch up with Matt’s pace.

Matt walking down the upper slabs
Twig again, knew where exactly to go in that crux zone
Matt starting the 3rd class slabs on the descent
Me finishing the 3rd class down-climb
Glissading the snow slopes under Runner/Seymour col
Me paddling down the bumpy snow ride
Lots of up-and-downs to work around the west slopes of Mt. Seymour
Me with Runner Peak partially hidden behind
About 50 m of elevation loss here then 200 m of regain
A view while slogging back up towards Seymour/Tim Jones col
Me and the other group on that soul-crushing slog
Found a patch of snow for some shades
Twig and another group taking a break in the cool spots
Descending Tim Jones Peak with Pump Peak ahead
Looking north through Pump/Tim Jones col
Twig taking another swim in a tarn under Pump Peak
Descending the tourist’s trail down from Pump Peak now.
Me arriving at the major trail fork to close our loop

The round trip time turned out to be 4.5 hours and I probably had sweated over a litre of liquid but with those two streams to fill up the water bottles it wasn’t that bad. Overall this was a short and fun outing and I can definitely see me exploring some other peaks in the North Shore in summer time.