Round Mountain (Paul Ridge)

June 2, 2019


Squamish / Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC

Round Mountain is the highest of the bumps along Paul Ridge en route to Elfin Lakes in the southern Garibaldi Provincial Park. The name of this “mountain” is officially proved by the government but is rarely used by anyone other than the peak-baggers. This whole area is much more famed for Elfin Lakes especially in this internet era. I had done the Elfin Lakes hike to approach farther-away peaks three times in the past years but never bothered with this short diversion to the summit of Round Mountain. This side detour was always part of the plan when I went that way but laziness kicked in every time, even though the summit was only 100 vertical meters above the trail.

A couple weeks ago Wendy M. asked if I were interested in hiking Elfin Lakes on the first weekend of June and I figured this might actually be a good opportunity to finally check off Round Mountain. As the date came closer the weather god had apparently approved our plan and then Wendy managed to find three other friends to join. A few of us had never hiked on snow before but we were all decently fit for the 22 km hike. In order to make sure we could achieve our objectives I said we had to be at West Vancouver by 5 am. Wendy and I left White Rock at 3:30 am, picked up Cindy from Richmond and then made to Jingyi’s home before the meeting time. Xiao Bai agreed to meet the four of us in Squamish so we were soon on the road driving north. The five of us were all piled into my Tacoma and then up the dirt road we went. The last 2 km was loose and rough but didn’t impose any issue to my truck.

Elfin Lakes and Round Mountain hiking route. GPX DL

There’s little worth documenting about the hike to Red Heather Shelter. The first 4 km was snow free or only had patchy snow but soon we were on continuous snow. Beyond the first shelter the route still followed the “winter route” marked by some giant orange poles. At the junction where the winter route branched off from the main summer trail (which wasn’t visible under the snow) we decided to take a direct route to the summit of Round Mountain. The ascent was more involved than expected with some steep rolls and bushwhacking but we all pushed through.

Onto continuous snow after ~4 km of road

Cindy enjoying her first hike on snow

Wendy posing in front of Atwell Peak

We left the trail here

Bushwhacking towards the summit.

Summit Panorama from Round Mountain. Click to view large size.

A zoomed-in shot of Atwell Peak

Our group shot on the summit of Round Mountain

The original plan was by traversing the ridge crest to join the trail much farther down Paul Ridge but a steep bluff blocked the way immediately to the east of the summit. The snow was still difficult to gain purchase so three of us donned crampons. Route-finding was needed in order to find a reasonable route descending to the winter trail. We had to keep traversing on down-climber’s right and had to descend a few slippery and bushy zones. The winter trail on the “backside” of Paul Ridge wasn’t classic neither. The melted-out sections were muddy and slippery.

Steep bushwhacking getting off Round Mountain.

The typical off-trail travel around here

It was slippery even with crampons on

Back onto the crest of Paul Ridge now

Following the winter trail

Back to the main again.

The rest of the hike to Elfin Lakes were a no-brainer but scenic as expected. We did a ton of activities for the ‘gram at the lakes and in the shelter. We even walked across the already-melting larger lake and instead of exiting on snow Jingyi and I even opted for jumping across the ring of water on the edge for video recording.

Onward along the ridge.

What a gorgeous day.

Following the path towards Elfin Lakes

Just another shot looking towards Tantalus Range across Squamish

This is the classic shot of Elfin Lakes

Wendy and her reflection in the ring of water on lower Elfin Lake

Searching for a spot to jump across… 

Atwell Peak showed up again

Exploring the shelter

Columnar Peak and The Gargoyles and their reflection

Lower Elfin Lake

The lake had a ring of water on the edge, but solid ice underneath

Another shot of the lower Elfin Lake

We found some reflection again in the lower Elfin Lake

Do it for the ‘gram!

Once having enough photos we decided to hike back. There weren’t a ton of worth noting because all we needed was following the trail all the way out. The final 4 km was not as boring as what I remembered because we had such a large group of friends. I sure would like to do more trips with them.

Hiking out along the winter trail

Another shot of the winter trail hiking out.

Another group on their way in.

One last scenery shot before dropping into the woods.

On the way back we decided to have a dinner in the Cactus Club of West Vancouver before driving into the city. The traffic was surprisingly easy-going and we all made back home at a reasonable time. All in all this was an awesome trip with an amazing crew. I learnt once again the importance of “photoshopping before publishing” but I doubt I would do a ton of photoshopping for my own photos because such was very time consuming.