I am one of the lucky kids to grow up in Lynn Valley, surrounded since birth by our amazing mountains and canyons. While I never was a big hiker as a kid, being just in the forest always has been fun for me. So now that I am done school, have a stable job, and am moving off the north Shore to Kitsilano, I wanted to take full advantage this summer of being so close to our backyard mountains.
There is no better way to take advantage of these mountains by doing one of the great, forbidden, trails of the North Shore – Cathedral. This elusive mountain stands tall over my home, with its striking figure that looks intimidating, yet beautiful. With next to no beta on it, this mountain remains untouched by many. My buddies Nick and Roan were up for a glorious weekend in the mountains. This hike involves breaking some unfortunate delicate rules, and we are aware. I do not condone following what we did, however my stance is that the mountains are there for us to explore and should be treated with our upmost respect.
We left Lynn Valley on our bikes at 10 AM. Biked the 11 km to the logging road where we stashed our bikes off the LSCR at about half way up. Two other bikes were also already there. From here, the trail climbs quickly and steeply up to Paton Peak (otherwise known as Vancouver Lookout), initially following a mix of new and old growth trees, and later a young and covered forest. A few ropes are there for assistance at tricky spots. This spot is well marked and is only confusing in one spot where there are a lot of blowdowns. 100% recommend this route rather than the Norvan Falls painful 7 km. We reached Paton at 12:30, stopped and had lunch in the gorgeous sun and then moved on to Coliseum. We were taking it slow and chatting and hardly broke a sweat.
Pushing the bikes up the old logging road off of the demonstration forest
Locking the bikes up
Roan with a big cedar behind him
It's a bit steep, but nothing too crazy.
First viewpoint on the way up at around 800 meters.
Roan at Paton Peak - looking down over Seymour resevoir
We reached Coliseum at 2 pm, stopped for a photo at the cairn, and then quickly headed down to Cornett Lakes. Probably about fifteen people up at Coliseum and at the tarn in total. The hike down to Cornett Lakes is straightforward and follows granite most of the way down. We dropped roughly 300 meters of elevation down to the first lake and went for a lovely swim. Contrary to popular belief, these lakes filter downstream of Seymour reservoir and are not in the watershed. We enjoyed the views, sun, and bugs before having dinner. Me and Nick got next to no sleep and the 4 AM alarm clock was rough. We new we had to get up early to pack up our overnight gear and get out before the sun was too warm Left camp just after 5 and we were standing on the summit of Burwell at 6 AM to a beautiful sunrise. First time up here for me. The ridge is incredibly easy to follow and is roughly 30 minutes from Coliseum.
Boulder field before where the trail connects with the main Coliseum trail
Looking out toward the Needles
Summit cairn of Coliseum
Roan and Nick looking down at Cornett Lakes
Cornett Lakes are beautiful
Morning light over the lake
Hiking to the summit in the alpine glow
Whiskey bag at 6 AM? What is going on with this generation..
Looking from the summit of Burwell out to Cathedral..
We then dropped down the opposite north west side of Burwell and followed the general route to reach the Burwell-Cathedral col. No route description is really needed as you must find the best way down some granite staircases. We got lost a few times and cliffed out, but eventually started seeing some cairns leading the way down into the bushy ridge. From here, the route is very easy to follow with a narrow footpath and generous flagging. We were surprised that it would be that easy to follow. The bushwhacking was tough, but not unbearable and we made good time to the base of Cathedral. You head left around the west side of the peak, passing two boulder fields before heading up. There is good flagging for the most part. If you ever reach a steep gully with a rope, I would suggest you backtrack ten feet and go up the rock diagonally to the right before cutting left underneath the next set of rocky cliffs. Here you head left through some bushy trees before popping out to another rocky boulder field above the mentioned gully. At this point, flagging took us directly to the summit and we enjoyed some of the best views of all South Coast mountains. Had some water at the summit and headed down in the intense late morning heat. The time back to Burwell was tiring and pretty tough. We ended up taking a new route to Burwell by traversing to the right, which brought us in between Burwell and West Burwell with the radio repeater. We went over and built a cairn on this peak and then came back before doing an exposed class 3 climb up the left side of Burwell.
Looking back to Coliseum
We took a much-needed dip in the Coliseum tarn before heading home. We were exhausted mentally at this point and not much was said. We ran most of the way down back to our bikes and then ripped home. An extremely tiring day to say the least, but the 30 degrees Celsius sun that we were exposed to for the whole day made it the most difficult. Overall, a gorgeous hike/scramble and a great overnight trip!