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Golden Hinde on a sunny day

BC Archives image over Golden Hinde
BC Archives image of Golden Hinde
Reproduction of the ship The Golden Hinde
Distant shot of the Golden Hinde
The Golden Hinde

Golden Hinde

Central Vancouver Island

The central mountain range of Vancouver Island is a magnificent feature. Sweeping canyons, craggy peaks, and alpine lakes make this area one of the most beautiful in BC. The Golden Hinde, at 2198 meters high, is the tallest mountain on Vancouver Island, and a popular mountaineering goal for advanced backpackers and alpine hikers. Surrounded by other formidable peaks, including the humorously named Mt. Behinde, the Golden Hinde is nestled in one of the most beautiful and remote regions of Vancouver Island. A mountaineering achievement, the Golden Hinde was first scaled in the early 1900s, and despite its stature on Vancouver Island, is only the 18th highest peak



Originally referred to unofficially as “The Rooster’s Comb,” the Golden Hinde was officially ascended for the first time in 1913. The first ascent was made by two men, W.W. Urquhart, a government surveyor, and Einar Anderson, a young teenager from Campbell River hired to carry the altimeter. They attempted the ascent twice, were successful on their second attempt, and built a wooden cairn at the summit to mark the first ascent.

The Rooster’s Comb quickly became recognized as the highest peak on Vancouver Island and as such, became a popular trek for advanced backcountry explorers. After many other ascents, the government surveyor Norman Stewart climbed the mountain in 1937, and alluding to its spectacular beauty, declared “The Rooster’s Comb” to be too blasé a name. Considering that Sir Francis Drake probably was the first European to sight Vancouver Island on his world circumnavigation in 1579, Stewart changed the name of the mountain to the Golden Hinde, after Drake’s ship.



Coordinates: 49°39’44”N 125°44’46”W

The Golden Hinde stands at 2198 meters, and is the tallest mountain on Vancouver Island by only 30m, with Elkhorn Mountain as second highest. The mountain is actually a pair of peaks, with the southernmost summit sitting a little lower than the main peak, and a steep valley separates the Golden Hinde from the next nearest mountain, the (aptly named) Behinde Mountain. A small alpine lake exists between the two at an elevation of 1210 meters, representing a drop of one kilometer in altitude in less than 700m of horizontal travel. The largest nearby body of water is Burman Lake, just south of the peak, and the ridge beyond the lake is a popular final camp before attempting the ascent.

The mountain itself is composed of basalt, a rock of volcanic origin. The mountain is part of the Karmutsen Formation, a series of basaltic volcanic mountains in the central portion of Vancouver Island. This formation accounts for the typical cragginess of the central island mountains, including Mt. Albert Edward and Castle Craig, and the line of ancient volcanoes responsible for the Vancouver Island portion of the formation are also what created the Haida Gwaii.




Access to the Golden Hinde should only be attempted by expert mountaineers. The climb is a multi-day trek up steep mountains, inhospitable terrain, and largely without marked trails. Weather can change unpredictably, and at altitude, sometimes dense cloud can cover the higher reaches of the mountains for days. Most who attempt the climb start by crossing Buttle Lake, and following routes recommended by fellow climbers. For those that are qualified, the climb is second to none on the island, providing both the challenge and unbelievable scenery that comes with backcountry exploring.


Web site ©: The Institute for Coastal and Oceans Research (ICOR) at the University of Victoria, British Columbia Canada.