Tsar Mountain access via Sullivan River Road, updated 2004 Click for road map
NOTE: Watch for Logging Trucks! Check with Evans Products Mill in Golden for current road conditions and how far you can actually drive. Call 250-344-8800, ask for Woodlands Division. Driveability of Sullivan River road changes yearly.If the road has been "waterbarred" expect deep side to side ditches along the way requiring a high clearance vehicle. This description is based on our Tsar trip of 1994.
- From Golden British Columbia drive west on TransCanada Highway some 28 km towards Donald, B.C. and either turn right onto the BIG BEND HIGHWAY or at the EVANS PRODUCTS lumber mill at Donald, 2 km further. These two roads soon join to become the BUSH RIVER ROAD. If you miss the turnoff(s) you'll soon cross railway tracks and the Columbia River.
NOTE: The logging company recently (2002) changed distance markers by referencing them all to a different starting point ( now from Donald instead of Golden) e.g Bush North is now at 61km
- From Donald, the remaining 122 km 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 and kilometre signs are posted along the way. It takes about 4 hrs from Golden to reach road's end at km153.
- It's important to branch LEFT near 61 km and follow "B" Road left across Bush Arm of McNaughton Lake.This road then goes to Sullivan River. DO NOT continue straight north along "BUSH NORTH" road at this junction. Bush North road goes towards Mounts Bryce, Columbia and King Edward. (Not bad for a wrong turn, eh!)
- There is afree B.C. Forest Service campsite (Sullivan Bay site) and boat launch at about 147 km; just past here, you must keep right at a fork and follow Sullivan River upstream, now heading north. Evans Products had a logging camp at 130 km. A side road called "HOFFA MAIN ROAD" branches right at 143 km, and should be ignored. Keep left near 150 km and cross the impressively deep Sullivan Gorge. This is definitely worth stopping to see. Past here several side roads lead up into clearcuts. Ignore these, and keep heading north. The last clearcut is at 186 km, directly east of Tsar Mtn. There weren't any sources of water anywhere for the final 10 or 15 km and you may not find any on the hike in until many hours later on glacier around the north side of the peak.
- This is a long, rattling drive which is at first just plain dull, but later improves to spectacular. Mountaineers will relish the views of the rugged Adamant Range, seldom-seen glaciers, waterfalls, towering unclimbed rock walls and deep gorges. Yes, even the drive is an adventure.
-Critters: Some people encircle their car with "chicken wire" and hold it down with logs or rocks to prevent porcupines from crawling underneath and chewing brakelines and radiator hoses. This is often done in both the Rockies and the Purcells/Selkirk Ranges. The first time I drove up Sullivan River in 1991, I did actually see a porcupine under a car parked on the shoulder, but in 1994, my van was okay after being parked 3 days. Maybe it was just dumb luck. I'd take chicken wire next time: 150 km is a long way to tow a car.
Tsar Peak is a three day climb (general mountaineering) once you've driven the 158 kilometre approach from Golden. Our climbing equipment was basic: topo map, ice axes, crampons, glacier travel gear, slings, a 9mm rope and a small selection of pins (which I don't think we even used). With good weather, decent mountaineers should have no trouble climbing Tsar based on this information. Our group of 4 had far less info than this and did just fine.
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