Group experiences climbing 2,112m Mount Cheam

Coquihalla Elementary School principal Monique Gratrix (left) and her friend Patsy Campbell of Hope go hiking.

Coquihalla Elementary School principal Monique Gratrix (left) and her friend Patsy Campbell of Hope pause for a pose about halfway into their hike up Mount Cheam on BC Day.

Coquihalla Elementary School principal Monique Gratrix (left) and her friend Patsy Campbell of Hope pause for a pose about halfway into their hike up Mount Cheam on BC Day.

A “one of these days” wish turned into an all-day adventure for a group of friends from Agassiz and Hope.

Coquihalla Elementary School principal, Monique Gratrix, lives in Agassiz and has a great view of Mount Cheam that she was admiring with her fiancée, Metro Hucolak.

“We were looking at Cheam from the back deck and Metro said, ‘I’d like to climb that one day,’ so I said ‘Let’s do it!’” recalled Gratrix on Monday.

They gathered up a group of dragon-boating friends and two 4×4 trucks and picked a gorgeous day for their climb, which happened to be BC Day.

A forest service road on the back side of the mountain takes a lot of work out of the ascent, leaving the hiking for the open vista of the upper third of the 2,112-metre mountain.

Though $30,000 is spent on maintenance per year, according to Sam Waddington of Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors shop in Chilliwack, it’s not an easy road.

“You’ll see Honda Civics in the parking lot at the top,” he said, Monday, with a mix of grin and grimace on his face. “There’s what you can drive up there — and what you should drive up there.”

Potholes, cross-ditches, boulders and steep inclines make it a tough go for vehicles with small tires and low ground clearance.

“Man, that’s a rough road!” said Gratrix. “Some of the potholes are incredible. It’s pretty slow-going, so it took us an hour to an hour-and-a-half to get to the parking lot, from the bottom.”

At the parking lot is the only outhouse on the mountain. You won’t be back for another four hours.

“Some of us had walking sticks and others didn’t,” added Gratrix. “I’d recommend them, as there is some loose shale to deal with.

“On the way up, we came across people with backpacks, who had stayed overnight and there were others swimming in a pond.

“It’s a well-marked trail,” she said. “We went to the very top and did several poses. It’s a great view… Oh my goodness! We could see Chilliwack, Harrison, Kilby and Jones Lake. You can very clearly see Mount Baker, Manning Park and Mount Slesse.”

For those who don’t wish to climb the final five to ten minutes to the peak, there’s a bench to rest on, while the rest of your group carry on.

“The dogs loved the snow banks,” added Hucolak — as did two members of their group. “They slid a good 150 to 200 feet, for sure.”

“Take some insect repellant,” advises Gratrix. “The black flies and horseflies were terrible in the afternoon. Patsy (Campbell, from Hope) didn’t think she had any repellant but she found it when we were almost back to the parking lot.”

“When we came back down, there were at least 40 vehicles parked,” said Hucolak. “There were lots of Europeans hiking, too.”

“The total trip was about eight hours,” Gratrix figured. “We came home and licked our wounds and talked about our aches and pains.”

If you don’t have the right vehicle, or just want to leave the dirt and dings to someone else, for 90 bucks you can take a guided tour with Waddington’s in a 15-passenger 4×4 Ford van that’s designed to float through the potholes and cross-ditches. They take three or four trips per week and provide a lunch.

“We leave at about 8 or 9 in the morning and we’re back by about 6 p.m.,” said Waddington. “We make stops in the Chilliwack Valley along the way, looking at spawning salmon and waterfalls and picking some blueberries. We’ll pull out some binoculars and look at bears in adjacent meadows.

“We’re not hiking in snow now, though it was late to leave the trail this year. Even in July, we were cutting steps in the snow.”

Waddington said the mountain is getting quite a reputation for the amazing views it offers beginning-to-intermediate hikers.

“There are very few places in the world where you get a 2,000-metre vertical from the surrounding area. Other mountains are higher elevation — but so is their surrounding area.

“On Cheam, you’re looking at the ocean in one direction and glaciers in the other. It’s beautiful. There’s also no place on the trail, where if you slipped you would fall. No place where a trip would be fatal.”

Though straying from the trail could be dangerous, near the peak.

“We certainly see lots of kids up there,” said Waddington.

“Last year, we took a guy up there who was 91 years old and he made it to the top. He was an avid hiker — and Swiss, so that counts for something.”

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Most Read