Added by Chris Istace
Scenic backcountry trail through old growth forests and several alpine lakes leading to an iconic Vancouver Island summit.
Mt Septimus lies deep within the beautiful and untouched Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island. The route takes you high into the alpine where you will cross glacial fed lakes amongst large peaks and thick forest. To climb Mt Septimus the route you will be taking is the X-Gully route, a steep snow and ice filled gully that goes up the NW side of the mountain which is only safe to do so in late spring or early summer when the risk of avalanche is minimal and the massive bergshunds have not formed preventing access.
The trail you will be taking is the Bedwell Lake trail that is located at the bottom of Buttle Lake. Head west from Campbell River on Highway #28 until you reach the bridge to cross Buttle Lake, do not turn but rather stay straight and continue down Westmin Rd along the east side of the Lake. Drive to the very south end of the lake and turn left on Jim Mitchell Lake Rd just after the bridge. Follow this gravel road (you may prefer to have a high clearance vehicle) for several kilometres until you reach the parking and trailhead kiosk.
The hike in starts on the Bedwell Trail (remember to pay your backcountry camping fee) winding up along rivers and dense old growth forest. You will go across bridges and ladders on this well marked and easy to follow trail to Baby Bedwell and eventually Bedwell Lakes. Bedwell Lake has tent pads and outhouse facilities for future trips or if you want to spend an extra day at this location on the way out.
From here the trail heads up to Cream Lake and is the end of the marked trail and head into the backcountry remote portion of the hike. You will follow a faint path and cairns along this route or walking on snow depending on seasonal conditions typically past this point. You scramble up past a nice waterfall as you reach Little Jim Lake roughly half way between Cream and Bedwell. Shortly thereafter you will reach beautiful Cream Lake at the foot of Mt Septimus and the glacier. Total time is between 6-8hrs depending on conditions and your experience/cardio covering almost 11km and 1050m elevation gain.
On the right hand side of the lake you can find several spots to setup your camp for the night. Strathcona Park does not permit any fires within its boundaries so please respect this rule and practice diligent leave no trace ethics in this pristine location.
The next morning you will strike up the Septimus Glacier to reach the X-Gully which is the prominent crossing of two gullies you can see from camp and will be how you reach the North Glacier for the summit access.
You will want to put on your crampons for this spot and have on your helmet and harness with rope and snow pickets easily available. Use at your experience and risk tolerance or as conditions warrant.
Head up the Septimus Glacier making your way towards the left lower leg of the X paying attention to snow conditions and rock fall/slide hazards. If safe proceed up this gully reaching the X of the gully and then moving up the right upper part of the X to achieve the col and begin your descent to the drop into the North Glacier on the other side.
From the North Glacier you move eastward and rising gradually to the toe of the rock sloping down from the north side of the Septimus summit. Scramble your way up to the saddle between Rosseau and Septimus and then move up easy rock to your right and the successful summit.
Amazing 360 degree views surround you with peaks everywhere , a location that is magical for alpine enthusiasts. Views of Nine Peaks, Golden Hinde, Tom Taylor , Mt Albert Edward and more await you.
Once done on the summit you can head back the way you came tracing over your path to the top to choose to rappel down the west face. If you do the west face drop down to saddle of Rosseau and Septimus again as your entry point to the down climb. This section goes low 5th and has very loose rocks, extreme care should be given for rockfall. You drop onto the snow and move NW to the west shoulder and scramble up to reach the Septimus Glacier that you began the day on easily hiking down or glissading your way to camp.
The total for the day will be roughly 5km loop with 800m elevation gain. Give yourself a full day to achieve this route , allowing for safety and maximizing of the views.
Once at camp at Cream lake you can choose to camp here another night or if early in the day pack up and head back down to Bedwell Lake to cut off some distance for the next day.
This trip can be done in a very hard 2 days but is best experienced over 3 days. Please pay special attention to weather and to snow conditions on this route, it is very remote and poses risk if not prepared for. Always leave a route plan and check-in protocol with friends and family when heading out on alpine adventures.
Have fun and Explore Beyond The Usual
- 10 Essential
- Satellite communicator/emergency device (i.e. InReach)
- Mountaineering equipment (Ice Axe, Crampons, Snow Pickets)
- Climbing gear (harness, belay device, helmet, 30m rope)
- Multi-day Backpacking equipment (tent, sleeping bag, stove etc)
- food provisions for more than 3 days
- water treatment (easily and countless water sources enroute)
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
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