PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY

Mountains, Ridges & Plateaus

The Southern Chilcotin Mountains (aka ‘South Chilcotins’) are a sub-range of the Coast Mountains in southwestern British Columbia, Canada. Mountains of the eastern portion of the Southern Chilcotin Mountains are more like that of the Pacific Range to the west being loftier, glacier strewn and more defying; while those to the east are gentler and more subdued by time. Within our map area there are more than 20 officially named mountains over 2500m in elevation (and many more unnamed) with the overall elevation ranging from 700m (Carpenter Lake) to just over 3,000m (Mt. Vic). Bordering the Southern Chilcotin Mountains to the north is the expansive Chilcotin Plateau, proving that opposites do attract. Two intriguing, high elevation extensions of this mother plateau are its offspring: the Dil-Dil Plateau and the Dash Plateau. Yet smaller offspring, the curiously perched lava flow remnants atop some mountains, provide unique, well known landmarks such as Castle Peak.

Big cairned Dash Hill (2514 m) overlooking Graveyard Creek drainage to the S

Big cairned Dash Hill (2514 m) overlooking Graveyard Creek drainage to the S

E face of pyramid shaped Dickson Peak (2813m) in late spring

E face of pyramid shaped Dickson Peak (2813m) in late spring

Cairned summit of 'Peak 7948' with Cardtable Mtn (2525m) to NE in background

Cairned summit of ‘Peak 7948’ with Cardtable Mtn (2525m) to NE in background

Lava topped Castle Peak (2492m) along the Paradise Creek - Tyaughton Creek divide (looking E)

Lava topped Castle Peak (2492m) along the Paradise Creek – Tyaughton Creek divide (looking E)

Well worn section of Sheba Ridge just W of Mt. Sheba

Well worn section of Sheba Ridge just W of Mt. Sheba

Mt. Sheba (2665m) (N side) with both breasts fully bared

Mt. Sheba (2665m) (N side) with both breasts fully bared

Summit of Mt. Warner looking W through forest fire smoke to Warner Ridge and Denain Spur

Summit of Mt. Warner looking W through forest fire smoke to Warner Ridge and Denain Spur

Top of Mt. Sheba (2665m)

Top of Mt. Sheba (2665m), east breast

An eastern section of the Dil-Dil Plateau with broken basalt - its foundation

An eastern section of the Dil-Dil Plateau with broken basalt – its foundation

N end of Trail Ridge near Lorna Pass - looking S

N end of Trail Ridge near Lorna Pass – looking S

The W and S slopes of Dorrie Peak (2836m)

The W and S slopes of Dorrie Peak (2836m)

S slopes of Eldorado Mountain (2449m) at centre, as seen from Taylor Cabin

S slopes of Eldorado Mountain (2449m) at centre, as seen from Taylor Cabin

E section of "Dash Plateau" with Dash Hill behind to W

E section of “Dash Plateau” with Dash Hill behind to W

Relay Mountain (centre) and Tepee Mountain (on right) - S slopes

Relay Mountain (centre) and Tepee Mountain (on right) – S slopes

Aerial view of Elbow Mtn's (2458m) E and S slopes

Aerial view of Elbow Mtn’s (2458m) E and S slopes

Warner Ridge along the Sluice Creek - Denain Creek divide, showing the N and W face of 'Peak 9500' on left

Warner Ridge along the Sluice Creek – Denain Creek divide, showing the N and W face of ‘Peak 9500’ on left

Looking to SW from 'Peak 8269' over 'Slim Pass' (lower left) and Nichols Creek valley to the Bridge Glacier

Looking to SW from ‘Peak 8269’ over ‘Slim Pass’ (lower left) and Nichols Creek valley to the Bridge Glacier

Looking S from 'Peak 8269' over 'Slim Pass' to Socerer (on left) with its receding glacier

Looking S from ‘Peak 8269’ over ‘Slim Pass’ to Socerer (on left) with its receding glacier

'Peak 8160' and the ridge connecting Eldorado Mountain to 'Windy Pass'

‘Peak 8160’ and the ridge connecting Eldorado Mountain to ‘Windy Pass’

S slopes of Red Hill as seen from pond at 'Little Graveyard Pass'

S slopes of Red Hill as seen from pond at ‘Little Graveyard Pass’

Eastern section of Harris Ridge

Eastern section of Harris Ridge

The N side of Eldorado Mountain as seen from the Lower Tyaughton Hiker's Trail

The N side of Eldorado Mountain as seen from the Lower Tyaughton Hiker’s Trail

S and E sides of Mt. Davidson (2472m) with 'Davidson Ridge' in the foreground leading to the summit, as seen from 'Relay Ridge', connecting Mt. Cunningham and Relay Mountain

S and E sides of Mt. Davidson (2472m) with ‘Davidson Ridge’ in the foreground leading to the summit, as seen from ‘Relay Ridge’, connecting Mt. Cunningham and Relay Mountain

The presence of Dickson and Leckie sub-ranges purport to this areas mountainous character. Many ridges act to connect the numerous Southern Chilcotin Mountain summits. The abundance of gentle ridges here facilitates some of the best ridge walks in SW BC.

LAKES, RIVERS & CREEKS

Several of the creeks in this area are more deserving of river status. Glacier and snow melt feeds these creeks as well as the lakes to create fast flowing torrents in early-mid summer. The larger lakes include Vic Lake, Lorna Lake, Warner Lake, Hummingbird Lake, Trigger Lake, Leckie Lake, Spruce Lake, Tyaughton Lake, Gun Lake and Carpenter Lake. Canyon and gully features reside within the various drainages – ‘Leckie Canyon’ being a good example. As well, several ponds and significant wetlands provide for an exceptional variety of terrain.

Spruce Lake with the Dickson Range backdrop, as seen from the Greasy Hill Trail

Spruce Lake with the Dickson Range backdrop, as seen from the Greasy Hill Trail

Long and narrow Lorna Lake at the head of Big Creek amidst rugged terrain

Long and narrow Lorna Lake at the head of Big Creek amidst rugged terrain

Milky Hummingbird Lake along the Gun Creek Trail in upper Gun Creek valley

Milky Hummingbird Lake along the Gun Creek Trail in upper Gun Creek valley

Warner Lake - looking W from the Warner Pass Trail

Warner Lake – looking W from the Warner Pass Trail

'Wolverine Creek' valley and Leckie Lake. This areas open ground and many ridges make it an excellent mountaineering / backpacking destination.

‘Wolverine Creek’ valley and Leckie Lake. This areas open ground and many ridges make it an excellent mountaineering / backpacking destination.

One of the several Mud Lakes

One of the several Mud Lakes

Prentice Lake - looking SW with Tepee Mountain above on right

Prentice Lake – looking SW with Tepee Mountain above on right

Trigger Lake, looking E, with Mt. Sheba in background left as seen from Mt. Warner

Trigger Lake, looking E, with Mt. Sheba in background left as seen from Mt. Warner

Picturesque Nadila Lake - NE slopes of Mt. Vic on far right above

Picturesque Nadila Lake – NE slopes of Mt. Vic on far right above

N end of Lorna Lake - looking S to Warner Ridge in middle background

N end of Lorna Lake – looking S to Warner Ridge in middle background

Pearson Pond in early fall with Mt. Sloan in the distance

Pearson Pond in early fall with Mt. Sloan in the distance

Frozen Carpenter Lake with Dickson Range in background

Frozen Carpenter Lake with Dickson Range in background

Six major drainages lie within the map area: Tyaughton Creek, Gun Creek, Big Creek, Bridge River, Churn Creek and Taseko River.

Within the map boundaries, these drainages could be further subdivided as follows:

– Tyaughton Creek drainage: Tyaughton Creek, North Cinnabar Creek, Taylor Creek, Noaxe Creek, Mud Creek, Paradise Creek, Relay Creek, Lindsey Creek, Little Paradise Creek, Bonanza Creek, Spruce Lake Creek, Lizard Creek and Manson Creek

Lower Tyaughton Creek

Lower Tyaughton Creek

'Paradise Creek S fork' draining from Castle Pass area towards Relay Mtn

‘Paradise Creek S fork’ draining from Castle Pass area towards Relay Mtn

– Gun Creek drainage: Gun Creek, Pearson Creek, Lick Creek, Freiburg Creek, Roxey Creek, Eldorado Creek, Slim Creek, Leckie Creek and Warner Creek

Lower Gun Creek

Lower Gun Creek

Leckie Creek canyon along the Leckie Creek Trail

Leckie Creek canyon along the Leckie Creek Trail

– Big Creek drainage: Big Creek, West Nadila Creek, Nadila Creek, Graveyard Creek, Tosh Creek, Grant Creek and Sluice Creek

Nadila Creek below 'Nadila Falls' on Dil-Dil Plateau

Nadila Creek below ‘Nadila Falls’ on Dil-Dil Plateau

Preparing to cross Big Creek along the Big Creek Trail

Preparing to cross Big Creek along the Big Creek Trail

Sluice Creek - looking W to Warner Ridge above

Sluice Creek – looking W to Warner Ridge above

Big Creek valley and Dil-Dil Plateau as seen from Trail Ridge - looking NW

Big Creek valley and Dil-Dil Plateau as seen from Trail Ridge – looking NW

 

– Churn Creek drainage: Churn Creek, Dash Creek and Lone Valley Creek

Lone Valley Creek: small creek but big wetlands

Lone Valley Creek: small creek but big wetlands

– Taseko River drainage: Taseko River, Beece Creek, Powell Creek, Battlement Creek and Denain Creek

Upper Powell Creek with trail to Taseko Lakes area

Upper Powell Creek with trail to Taseko Lakes area

– Bridge River drainage: Bridge River and Nichols Creek

Glacial Features

Glacial features abound in the Southern Chilcotin Mountains, especially in the W portion of the map area. For thousands of years a thick ice sheet covered the Southern Chilcotin Mountains (except for the tips of a few of the highest peaks) until about 10,000 years ago. At this time, ice cap glaciation diminished and was ultimately replaced by alpine glaciation.

Glacier in uppermost Grant Creek drainage with Warner Ridge above

Glacier in uppermost Grant Creek drainage with Warner Ridge above

Alpine glaciation, in turn, has diminished to what exists today. Evidence of this reduction in glaciation is easy to find – many glaciers have either retreated considerable distances or have disappeared altogether. Look for signs of this in the W portion of the map area near the pass and ridge areas – one example of this is the main alpine glacier on the N side of Sorcerer (mountain), which is visible from Slim Pass area.

Differences in glacier positions between that shown on 1:50,000 Energy, Mines and Resources Canada NTS topographic maps (last updated from aerial photographs taken in 1979) and what exists in the field today are quite significant. Many believe the reduction in alpine glaciation to be the effect of global warming.

Glacial features which can be easily identified within the map area (W portion):

– Big U shaped valleys like that of Tosh, Grant and Slim
– Hanging valleys such as the valley containing Leckie Lake
– Drumlins (small tear drop shaped hills) on the plateaus
– Ice free, water filled cirque basins
– Eskers such as those found in upper Grant Creek valley
– Glacial moraine of various types found near many of the passes and N slopes of high ridges
– Erratics which are out-of-place, large, rounded boulders found usually along valley bottoms or plateaus. These boulders were transported and deposited by glaciers

 

U shaped Tosh Creek valley in autumn

U shaped Tosh Creek valley in autumn

Glaciated hanging valley containing Leckie Lake with Leckie Range in background, as seen from Wolverine Pass area

Glaciated hanging valley containing Leckie Lake with Leckie Range in background, as seen from Wolverine Pass area

Water filled cirque basin on W side of Iron Pass

Water filled cirque basin on W side of Iron Pass

Other weathering features:

Numerous talus/scree slopes exist which are created through freeze-thawing processes. Ice crystal growth in fractures/joints causes rock pieces to break apart and fall from the outcrop to rest nearby. Anyone mountaineering in the Southern Chilcotin Mountains will certainly become acquainted with scree which frequently provides the only non-technical routes available to ridges and mountain tops. The scree in the Southern Chilcotin Mountains is often a welcome mix of fine and coarse rock (due to the abundance of easily weathered sedimentary rock) which certainly helps to give more traction and control when ascending and helps to cushion your descents. However, boot-eating coarse scree does also exist here, so beware!

The earthy scree slopes of Elbow Mountain are able to sustain plants such as Shrubby Penstemon

The earthy scree slopes of Elbow Mountain are able to sustain plants such as Shrubby Penstemon