A hike one may undertake, if they would like to physically challenge themselves, is Panorama Ridge. Around ninety minutes out of Vancouver, the 30km in and out trail is one of the more strenuous walks you could choose but the view at the top is thoroughly rewarding. Ascending 1,500m, wading through snow & possible bear encounters is just some of the fun you might find. Ready for the challenge? Then let’s go!
Isn’t it great having friends that get you up at 4:30am just to go walk up a mountain? They’d fancied this hike for a while and we like to be fit so thought we’d join them. Leaving Vancouver at just after 5AM with our Timmy’s in hand, we took the Sea-to-Sky highway north and arrived at 7AM. The internet gave a guide of approximately 10-11 hours to which we challenged ourselves to beat. The timing was pretty spot on, giving us plenty of opportunity for water/photos/enjoy the scenery.
Garibaldi Lake is beautiful enough and there’s a shorter hike directly there, 9km each way with 900m of climbing. Panorama Ridge extends that by a further 6km and 600m upward, saving the hardest part till last!
The first part of the climb is winding through the British Columbian alpine, which is a nice chilled start in both a temperate and walking sense. This should take between 2-3 hours before hitting the expansive Taylor Meadows. Bears are known to lurk in this area but as I’ve learned, treat them with respect and caution and they tend not to be bothered with us humans. Maybe we taste bad? Oh well, on with the hike.
The last bit can be a bit of a scramble, although infinitely worth it. We went at the beginning of July and there was still snow there, so be prepared for that. It can also be extremely windy at the top, so brace yourself for the cold! Then sit back, get out your lunch and enjoy one of the most spectacular views in the Northern Hemisphere.
Oh and here’s the fun part. You get to do it all again… in reverse! Not all is lost though. If there’s snow, there’s the option of sliding down the mountain on your butts! Happy days! Our venture back down had a pretty humorous ending, with the chilli from the night before playing nasty tricks on somebody’s bowels. No names mentioned but I heard he’s an excellent writer… It probably lasted a good 5km of holding on for dear life & just as all went bleak & the urban inside me wanted to come out (literally), a porta-loo glistened through the trees under a warm glow of the sun. Too graphic? I don’t care, it’s hilarious.
Best time of year?
As with most mountain walks, the summer is your best bet! Snow apparently disappears from July onwards but that wasn’t the case for us, as the snowy scramble at the top showed. We went early-mid July and it was hot!
July – October will be your sunniest months, as with the BC area, the summers tend to be bright and warm! If you’re wanting to do this in a day, remember that light does eventually run out, especially in the autumn/fall months.
What to bring
Being over-prepared is always infinitely better than being underprepared! We walked past people who were so inadequately ill-prepared, they were in heels! Trainers may be a risky option on a hike like this, let alone a sturdy pair of stilettos! These environments can be unforgiving and climates change within minutes, so better to have a full backpack than one with just your phone and instagram account!
As previously mentioned, the wind can be pretty devastating at the top, yet the open meadows after the initial tree coverage can warm up your rump pretty quickly. Here’s a breakdown of what we would recommend:
- Food (& lots of it!)
- Thin layers for the cool
- Windproof layer for the top
- Bear bell
- A watch (unless you can tell the time from the sun)
- Bug spray
This list is purely for hiking it within a day. If you were camping, additional extras including a knife, water purification device and a tent, would be included. We always have a bear bell attached to our backpacks in the BC backcountry, just purely because it is the bears home and we must respect it and the best way to do that is simply stay out of their way!
Food is extremely important, as is water. Keep high energy foods (nuts, seeds, bananas etc) on standby and pack a lunch to savour at the top of the hike.
What to wear
I’m always one of those people that puts on too little when I shouldn’t, knowing full well I’ve done that. I think it’s that stubborn Northern English attitude – “Well it’s cold up’t North, how bad can it be?” In all honesty, the shorts and gym shirt combo served me well until I got to the top, where my waterproof over layer didn’t provide the warmth and protection that I craved.
If I were to do this differently, I would’ve opted for some form of base layer under the shorts and have a light windproof thermal for up at the top. This was in July remember, so in September/October, additional layers will be needed. I’d even recommend packing a pair of gloves and a warm, light hat, for the summit.
The drive is roughly ninety minutes with no breaks but of course, our bladders aren’t predictable and a coffee could give us that much needed morning boost, so approximate two hours from Vancouver. Rubble Creek is the best place to park if you’re driving up. Use the sea to sky highway & go past Squamish which will eventually lead to Daisy Lake Road, on the right. If you hit the reservoir, you’ve gone too far! A great way of doing this trip if you don’t have a car is to use an evo, which is a $90 rent for the day, so long as you drop it off back in the home zone in the Vancouver area.
Anyway, enjoy the pictures and the hike, it’s infinitely worth it.