The Seven Natural Wonders of British Columbia (Pt. II)

The Mount Waddington area.

Mount Waddington is the highest peak wholly within British Columbia, standing at 4019m (13,186’), and you’re forgiven for not having heard of it. For many years Mount Robson (see later entry in this seven wonders compilation) was considered the highest in BC and this is partly testament to the remoteness of Mt Waddington. It’s a seldom seen mountain so one that doesn’t get the publicity that other more accessible mountains do e.g. Robson, Assiniboine, etc. We think it deserves more fame.

We have called this entry the Mt Waddington ‘area’ because, although the mountain itself is outstanding and beautiful, there is so much more to this exceptional area of the Coast Mountains.

For a start Waddington lies only a few miles from sea level at Knight or Bute inlets. Consequently there is a lot of vertical that needs to be overcome if one is to make the summit. This also makes the surrounding area rugged and inhospitable with deep canyons and other obstacles. The impressive Homathko River is a cold and treacherous obstacle to gaining the mountain and sits at the bottom of the Great Canyon of the Homathko which can reach 3048m (10,000’) deep. The whole area is glaciated almost beyond belief. With the impressive Tiedemann glacier probably being the star of the show.

In addition, being so close to the coast and being the highest point in the central section of the Coast Mountains means the weather can be unpredictable and intimidating. The wet, warm weather that so affects our coast and helps create our temperate rainforest also brings snow. Snowfalls are reputedly among the highest in the Coast Mountains. And if you know anything about the Coast Mountains you’ll know how high that can be. 

In the 21st Century Waddington is still a serious objective should one choose to climb it, or even backpack around the area. It is a true expedition rather than one of the often sanitised trips one sees to some of the major mountains of the world. This trip requires true self-sufficiency and experience in living and surviving outdoors for days at a time.

Waddington’s story in the modern age is inextricably linked to that of the Mundays, Don and Phyllis, the famous climbing couple who reputedly first sighted Mt Waddington and made the first expeditions to climb it back in the 1920s when they themselves called it Mystery Mountain.

We have never been to Waddington but it’s on ‘the list’ and one of those places we really look forward to visiting, knowing that the reality will turn out to be every bit as special as we believe it will be.