Rock Climbing around Quadra Island
Morte Lake Crags
Morte Lake is a Quadra Island jewel. The lake is nestled in the forest below the south slopes of Mt Seymour, Quadra's highest 'mountain' and is a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers, birders, swimmers and other activities. Chinese Mountains is just to the east and the Morte Lake trails all link with those at Chinese Mountains and Beech's Mountain. There is an extensive network of mountain bike trails between the main hiking trails.
The rock is the same as at Chinese Mountains, mostly a granitic basalt or andesite, clean and well weathered. Some of the coarser weathered rock has numerous pea to marble-sized quartz crystals giving the rock a very sharp, grippy surface.
ACCESS: The Morte Lake crags are south-facing and nestled in the forest on the uphill (north) side of the popular Morte Lake hiking and biking trail. To locate the trailhead drive north from the ferry terminal in Quathiaski Cove on West Road following signs for Heriot Bay. In the village of Heriot Bay turn left on Hyacinthe Bay Road or Cramer Road (which joins Hyacinthe Bay Road) and continue north. Pass North Gowlland Harbour Road and down a steep hill. The road winds round a tight corner and heads back uphill, to the left is the Walcan Road, turn left here and drive 700m to a sign-posted turn-off on the right for the Morte Lake trail.
Highlights of climbing here include: the elegant approach through the forest on the Morte Lake trail suitable for mountain biking as well as hiking, the views over Morte Lake to the snow-capped mountains of Vancouver Island and Strathcona Park from Mt Arrowsmith in the south to Victoria Peak in the north, the pretty moss-covered ledges, wildflowers and the large, surviving veteran old-growth Douglas Fir trees.
Helmets should always be worn while climbing to protect from head injury in case of a fall but they are especially advised here as there are loose rocks both on the routes (simply due to low traffic) and also hidden in the moss on ledges that are easily dislodged. Climb safely - always wear a helmet!
This is a climbing area in progress - stay tuned for additional information and ongoing route development.
LITTLE MORTE EDGE
Little Morte Edge: One of the original crags in the area, first developed in the mid-1990s. Although it hasn't seen much recent activity the whole crag remains fairly clean but could benefit from a little wire-brushing in places. The crag is short but steep, there are a mix of older piton anchors that need replacing, and newer bolted anchors. The rock features are distinctly square-cut with several roofs and crack systems unlike any of the other nearby crags.
Access: From the Morte Lake trailhead parking lot hike or bike the main trail as it ascends gently up a beautifully forested valley along a narrow old logging road bed. The trail parallels a small creek. After a few minutes note the sign-posted junction to the right (north) for the hookup trail to Chinese Mountains and the crags there.
Continue along the Morte Lake trail for 1.5km, about 25 minutes, to Little Morte Lake. Follow the trail 300m around the north side of Little Morte Lake. Just past the west end of the lake the trail descends sharply down to the left. Leave the trail here and follow the old road bed bed straight ahead through the bushes looking for the small clean crag ahead - Little Morte Edge.
Route descriptions from left to right:
R RAID 5.11 8m *
Starts towards the left side of the crag at a break in the lower band of overhangs. Pull up onto a triangular shaped block, then move right till it is possible to pull over a small roof and up to the chains. (5 bolts to chains.)
FA: Andy Brown, Rich Barry 25 June, 2014
MP MELTING POINT 5.10+ 10m *
Begins about 4 meters left of #1. Steeply up to a horizontal break, then left to finish up an aesthetic short finger crack. (4 bolts + 1/2” TRAD eg:TCU to chain belay).
FA: Andy Brown, Rich Barry 25 June, 2014
Z6 ZERO TO SIXTY 5.10b 10m *
Four bolts to chains.Located towards the far right side of the crag. A steep start followed by a slabby rising traverse to the left.
FA: Andy Brown, Rich Barry 25 June, 2014
LAKE VIEW CRAG
Lake View Crag is a fine outcrop overlooking the east arm of Morte Lake and it has been visited by climbers at least since the early 1990s. Old piton anchors can still be found along the top and half-way-ledge. It is easily reached on the main Morte Lake trail and sits above the trail with a very open, sunny, southwest aspect. It is one of the best crags in the area for beginners but has some steeper more difficult lines to keep more experienced climbers interested too. The rock is some of the best of the Chinese Mountains - Morte Lake crags, well-weathered, mostly clean and very coarse. With no upslope terrain to seep water, it dries very quickly after a rainfall. The ledge at the bottom is wide enough for groups to congregate safely and comfortably.
Access: Follow the approach description for Little Morte Edge along the main Morte Lake Trail. Keep to the trail past Little Morte Lake and continue an additional 500m past Little Morte Edge to a well-sign-posted T-junction for the loop trail around the north and south shores of Morte Lake, a total of 30 to 40 minutes from the trailhead. Just a short distance, 20m, past the junction on the north shore trail (the righthand fork heading west) Lake View Crag can be seen up above the trail. Leave the trail and strike up through the forest and scramble up to a wide open mossy ledge at the base of the crag.
The top is reached by good paths up both sides of the crag, climber's left is probably the most useful. The lefthand side of the crag is split halfway up by a ledge this makes for a nice short wall to set up top ropes. To reach the anchors either lead one of the routes or rappel down from the top.
Shade: On hot days the sun can really cook at Lake View. Luckily there is a small shade tree in the middle of the base ledge and to the left is a nice larger open area under a copse of larger trees. There is a beach for swimming at Morte Lake just 10 minutes along the main hiking trail.
LV LAKE VIEW ARÊTE 5.7 35m **
The longest climb on the crag on mostly great rock. Start up steep face up a groove on hollow flakes to ledge (5.7). Continue direct and up over several short steps as the arête narrows. Rappel or walk-off descent. (10 bolts - rap ring anchor)
FA: Philip Stone, Nic Manders 18 March, 2016
S SCANDALOUS 5.8 14m **
Up the short steep wall between two small trees at the left side of the central slab on coarse grey rock. Climb direct on great holds. Strenuous but positive. Finish up the easy slab to the belay on halfway ledge. (5 bolts - rap ring anchor)
FA: Philip Stone, Renée Blouin 11 May, 2014
NC NATURAL CAUSES 5.6 17m **
Great first lead. Start at the shade tree. Climb direct & pass a detached block. Step left to a shallow left-facing corner and up a few short steep moves to belay on halfway ledge (6 bolts - rap ring anchor)
FA: Philip Stone, Nic Manders 25 February, 2016
I INQUEST 5.13 (TBC) 14m **
Start up Autopsy to the belay ledge below the base of the steep upper headwall. Head up off the ledge and pull over overlaps to the clean, smooth beige rock. Climb the steep face direct. (6 bolts - bolted anchor).
PC PAY THE CHARON 5.6 16m *
Climbs the lower slab to the right of the small fir with one steep step and easier slab to midway ledge. (4 bolts - bolted anchor)
FA: Tina Albershardt 26 May, 2015
MT MORTICIAN 5.10a 22m **
To the right of Mortified is a streak of lighter coloured rock running the whole height of the crag, to the right of this is a line of darker rock with a slightly bulging prow. Start up the easier rock past the high first bolt to the steeper rock. Clip the second bolt and then keep left to start on the light coloured rock before stepping rightward onto the bulge. Climb up the prow with a few thin moves (10a) leading to an easier finish and the bolted belay anchor with rappel ring. (7 bolts - ring anchor)
FA: Philip Stone 13 May, 2014
BS BONE SAW 5.8 22m **
Takes the righthand most line on the main part of the crag. Start up the easy lower blocks and then work up under a small roof. Reach for the bucket above the roof and pull out right. Few steep moves on good holds leads to an easy finish. (8 bolts - ring anchor + upper top rope anchor)
FA: Philip Stone, Nic Manders, Tak Ogasawara 30 May, 2014
To the right of Mortician and the main part of the wall the base of the crag angles downward a few metres behind a short but mature fir tree to a lower ledge. Above this ledge the rock is at a gentler angle and the climbing difficulty of the routes eases. At half-height of this part of the crag there is a scoop and ledge with a rounded arete on each side.
IM IMMORTALITY 5.6 22m *
About 5m right of Afterlife is a short wall with a very small fir tree sapling growing out of it. Climb the wall to a rounded arête. Climb direct up the narrow arête. For top roping use directional quickdraws. (8 bolts - bolted anchor)
Route Set by Philip Stone
Below these projects and the fir tree is a short steep, actually slightly over-hanging wall with potential for some short (6m) difficult problems. Below this is a second even nicer short bouldering wall with a inverted guillotine rock block at the centre of the base. Looks fantastic!
There's more rock further to the right along a pretty, forested ledge. There's lots of rock around Lake View, it's well worth the hike for the quantity, quality and great views.
Ask the locals questions and find out what's new at our
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Donations of bolts & hangers are very welcome to support the development of this very promising climbing area. 10 to 15 bolts typically equips one route but any contribution is appreciated. Send your donation of 3 inch 3/8" stainless steel wedge bolts and/or hangers to: Quadra Climbers c/o PO Box 280 Quathiaski Cove BC V0P 1N0 - Thanks, see you at the crags!