3 months ago I discovered this mountain to myself while driving around in the Squamish FSR area. I couldn't resist how magnificent it looked, and was set to climb it one day. That day now came.
A view of Ring Mountain from June, when I first saw it. Ring Mountain is a tuya - a type of distinctive, flat-topped, steep-sided volcano formed when lava erupts through a thick glacier or ice sheet.
There is a trail from Callaghan lake, but I decided to access it from the western side, where I first saw it. My plan was to drive up the S-500 as it offered the closest and highest startng point. Unfortunately, that road is very overgrown now. Vegetation grows right in the middle of the road to 2-3 meters in height. I turned around where I couldn't see the road at all. Plan B was to get up the next best road, the S-700. This one is also getting overgrown, but is still drivable if you don't mind pinstripes. Maybe in the next year or two this road will be gone too. I drove to the end of it and then parked 250 meters back, near a boulder scree. This was favourable, as it would allow me to avoid trees for a little bit. It is now 10:20AM.
Once the scree ends, trees begin. I take a look back:
What follows next...
a short, steep climb.
Getting over that, I come to a nice and open flat forest. But unfortunately it wouldn't last for long.
My first view of Ring Mountain!
Soon, the forest became very thick and steep, a full on all out bushwacking.
After finally getting out of the trees in over an hour, I am relieved to come to the scree.
From now on the going should be easy, right?
Wrong! These small rocks are totally unstable and the slope is steep. In result, you watch the whole floor of rocks slowly sliding underneath you as you move up. Sort of like a natural treadmill.
After getting past the tree line, I can now turn sideways and going becomes much easier.
Small problem arose, I found no water on route so far and I was stretching my last few drops of the 1 litre of water I brought with me. At this point I already ascended 1800 feet, but there is no way I'll make it through this treadmill hell without any extra water! I'm entering trees to go look for a stream, I know it's there somewhere!
Water! I'm about to drink the whole stream!! ...but really it was just 1 more litre to satisfy my thirst.
A pretty meadow by the stream.
I decided to not return the way I came, and simply continue along the stream, as it was a more gentler incline and I had as much water as I wanted beside me.
Time came to turn towards the peak. I fill up myself with 1 more litre, and fill up my bottle. This should last me for the rest of the trip.
After a few minutes through an easy going forest, back on the treadmill I go!
Whoever planted this grass, thank you! Made it easier for a bit.
Slowly, I finally made it to the crater of Ring Mountain. Here, I took a longer rest before continuing further.
The way up I go! From here the rock became somewhat larger and more stable, and it helped things quite a bit.
And then it finally flattens out considerably. But by this time I am already very tired.
A view of Ring Lake.
As I look at the cairn in distance, I see a mountain goat, quietly chilling! It's the small white blotch on the crest to the left of the cairn, probably you won't see it in the photo, but it was clearly visible while there.
On the way to the cairn I take some more photos.
Unfortunately, by the time I got there, the goat was gone and no where to be seen! I have no idea where it went. Did it just go to the other side of the mountain, below? It was insanely steep there!!! I hope the goat is OK.
Callaghan mountain is on the left. My plan was actually to climb this one in the same day. But this turned out to be a completely over ambitious plan, as I already was bound to return in the dark! I'll leave it for another time.
This peak was so hard to get to, but is so breathtaking! The views are unbelievable, and the top is a large plateau, which is not common around here. The feeling up there is hard to explain with words.
I continued to walk around the edge, which also marked the beginning of my return route. It is now 6:20PM.
The cliffs guarding the peak were incredible.
After making almost a complete circle of the peak, I decided to come down this route. It would make for a nice shortcut.
Going straight down I surf dirt and rocks, while trying to make it to the trees before it gets completely dark. Half way down, I take a break and a few more photos, while sun has already set.
By the time I got back into the trees, it was already completely dark. Fun bushwhacking in the dark (with a headlamp of course)! Going down through the trees was a lot easier than going up. Took me about 30 minutes to get down to the boulder field, and 20 more minutes to get to the Jeep. All in all an 11 hour and 20 minutes trip! It was very exhausting, but also extremely rewarding. I totally underestimated how physically demanding this one is. Maybe if I had at least 3 litres of water with me, I could have made it straight to the peak without going and looking for a water stream. This would certainly make it shorter. My hiking shoes also took a severe beating, as these rough rocks are very hard on them. I even got a bruise on side-bottom-middle left of my right foot. I don't think I ever had bruises on my feet before.
Google Earth illustration of my route. Cyan - drive up. Red - hike up. Yellow - hike down. You can see the first road I took and where I turned around.
And the location of Ring Mountain. Probably most know it, but I'll post anyway.
I was back at my car at 10PM. On the drive out, I saw a gorgeous, large male elk... around the same spot I saw a herd of female elks on the drive in. Very beautiful animals. Drive home was very tiring, especially after a long day and just 4.5 hours of sleep the night before.