Mounts King Edward and Bryce access via Bush River Road as of 2004 Click for my road map of Bush River area
NOTE: Watch for Logging Trucks! Check with Evans Products Mill in Golden B.C. for current road conditions and how far you can actually drive. Call 250-344-8800, ask for "Woodlands Division". Driveability of Bush River North road can change yearly. If the road has been "waterbarred" expect deep side-to-side ditches requiring a high clearance vehicle.
Mount Columbia from Bush River
- From Golden B.C. drive west on TransCanada Highway some 28 km towards Donald, B.C. Either turn right onto the BIG BEND HIGHWAY or, at the Evans Products lumber mill at Donald, 2 km further. This is km 0.0 These two roads soon join to become the BUSH RIVER ROAD. If you miss the turnoff(s) you'll cross railway tracks and the Columbia River. Whoaaa, Nellie! Back up.
NOTE: The logging company changed in (2002) distance markers by referencing them all to a different starting point (now from Donald instead of Golden) Bush North rd is now at km 61, for example.
From Donald, the remaining 100+ km drive is entirely gravel. It's a good gravel road but dusty when dry. There are no phones, garages or services so drive reliable vehicles with a GOOD spare tire, jack and a full gas tank. The road is okay for passenger cars; kilometre signs are posted along the way. Allow about 2.5 hrs from Golden to King Edward approach trail. Thanks to Richard Geber for km updates in 2004.
- Donald BC is km 0.0 It's important to stay straight ahead at 61 km marker and follow "Bush North" Road. Do not go left across Bush Arm of McNaughton Lake.This eventually goes to Sullivan River and Tsar Mountain. (Not bad for a wrong turn!) There is a free B.C. Forest Service campsite at km 68 (Valenciennes River). Keep following the road north, crossing the Bush River at km 73.5 then soon back to the east (right-hand) side again.
Mount Bryce approach
-For Mount Bryce, turn right at about 96 km onto Rice Brook main road. The road is decommissioned now and the bridge over Bryce creek removed as of 2004---expect to get wet. You'll now have to walk and follow this as it switchbacks up a steep open hillside, then curves around the end of a ridge (GR759631) into Rice Brook. Allow 2-3 hrs or so to the cable gate. From the cable gate just before the end of the ridge it is an hour's easy walk (and 4.2 km) to reach the bridge over Rice Brook below Mt Bryce. This cable gate is at the point where you go around a steep hillside rockcut, large rocks periodically fall onto the road.
After descending a little and crossing a bridge over Rice Brook, notice a waterfall on the left. This comes from Mount Bryce' south glacier and cascades over cliffs on the north side of the road. We parked about here, at GR781620, walked 25 minutes further east on the road, and tramped north up a gravelly watercourse (GR785621) in the adjacent avalanche slope to easily get above treeline. Below the steep walls of Bryce, you then traverse west, cross the glacial stream (at about GR782632) which feeds the waterfall, now far below. Hike easily up to snout of the glacier. Allow 4 hours with a big pack from the roadside waterfall to the south glacier. There are a few decent bivy spots on bedrock just before the glacier at GR779639. The 35-40 degree snow gully (seen from road) from the glacier up to the pinnacle is not shown on the map, but heads towards GR776651. That's all I can tell you; the rest is up to you.
Mount King Edward approach
-For Mount King Edward, stay on Bush River Road as far as possible. The road ends at km 98, but may not be driveable that far.(It was okay in Aug 2000). The last clearcut is at GR703688 on NTS map 83 C/3. At this final clearcut in 1991, Andy and I erected a crude sign saying "TRAIL". In 2004 it was there but apparently unreadable. Hike north through semi-open forest, gradually angling up to the left to gain open meadows along the ridge. Continue towards the objective. Allow 4-5 hrs to edge of glacier; 1.5 hrs from edge of glacier to foot of Mt King Edward. The southwest side of Mount Columbia dominates the view. Unlike the glaciated east face, this side is all rock. (About 5.5 or so, apparently.)
- Reaching these peaks is a long, rattling drive which is at first dull, but improves to spectacular. Mountaineers will relish the views of the Adamant Range, glaciers, waterfalls, and peaks towering thousands of feet above.
- Critters: Some people encircle their car with 4 ft high "chicken wire" and hold it down with logs or rocks to prevent porcupines from crawling underneath and chewing brakelines and radiator hoses. I once did actually see a porcupine under a car by the road up there, but so far, they haven't eaten my van. Still, 98 km would be a long, expensive tow job if the unthinkable occurred.
Allow 3 days for each of these peaks, after you driven the required distance. Maybe more for Bryce since the bridge is now gone. Both Bryce and King Edward are good solid trips for experienced mountaineers, but neither route is anything extreme in proper conditions. Just general mountaineering: Expect glacier travel, take some ice screws, a few pins, 2 ice tools for Bryce.
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