Wind Patterns in the Snow - Mt. Becher Trail Guide by Lonny Barr
- Distance: From parking lot to summit is about 6 km, with 600m of elevation gain
- Difficulty: Moderate route with only a couple steep sections. There are two sections in winter that are possible avalanche areas.
- Hiking Time: About 2-3 hours one-way from parking lot to the summit of Becher, depending on snow conditions. If there is fresh snow and you have to break trail it could be more like 4-5 hours. The trip down is much faster, especially compared to breaking trail all the way up.
- How to get there: Travel North on Highway 19 (Island Highway) until you pass the first exit to Courtenay/Comox (donít turn into Courtenay, stay on the highway). You will notice Forbidden Plateau Road cross over the highway, and shortly afterwards you turn right at the lights at Piercy Road. After a few hundred meters take another right onto Forbidden Plateau Road and follow this road all the way to where it ends in the parking lot of the old Forbidden Ski Area. Although the road turns into gravel it is very well maintained and passable by any 2WD car, even in winter as they keep the road plowed all the way up.
- This is a great backcountry snowshoe/ski touring area and is fantastic in the winter. I have never been up in the summer but I think there is a fairly good trail to hike it in the summer.
- Always be sure to check the weather, snow conditions/avalanche conditions and let people know your plan before heading into this backcountry area in winter.
- If you have never been up there before, and the weather is not clear and there is fresh snow, the route may be difficult to find and I would recommend using a GPS. This would be a difficult area to navigate in the white-out conditions that are common up there.
- Pack your own water or a stove to melt snow, as there no access to creeks on this trail in the winter
- There are many other routes possible in this area, including a traverse across Forbidden Plateau all the way over to Paradise Meadows at the foot of Mt. Washington
- There are no fires permitted in Strathcona Park anytime of year.
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The Mt. Becher trail is a gateway to the beautiful sub-alpine area of Forbidden Plateau, which lies within a small branch of Strathcona Park. The trail provides access to various backcountry routes, which traverse the Plateau all the way up to Paradise Meadows at the base of Mt. Washington. The summit of Mt. Becher provides breathtaking views of this area, as well as the Comox Glacier and peaks of Southern Strathcona.
The trail starts at the site of the old Forbidden ski lodge by following the chairlift. This involves a good portion of the elevation gain, as you work your way up towards the plateau above. In winter this area is popular with families, skiers/snowboarders, as well as snowmobiles. As you climb the final steep pitch to the top of the chairlift, you are rewarded with great views across the Strait of Georgia to the Coast Mountains. You will also get your first glimpses of Mt. Becherís summit.
From the top of the chairlift, the route veers to the right a bit. When we were up, this was as far as the broken trail went, and we had to plow through fresh snow the rest of the way. We were fortunate that it was such a clear day, as we had no trail to follow but were able to keep our bearing (W-SW) by continually heading in the direction of the summit.
This portion of the trail is much more relaxed, heading up and down over rolling hills through some great subalpine forest. After a few kms, you will see a big bowl on your left, with the steep ice of Boston Falls flowing down into Boston Lake at the bottom of the bowl. This is a popular ice-climbing spot. Mt Becherís summit lies directly above this area.
Soon after you pass by Boston Lake, the trail begins to steeper. There is one section (on the left-hand side of a gulley) that is quite steep and could become an avalanche area in bad conditions. There was definite evidence that there had been an avalanche there recently when we went up, with large chunks of snow littering the bottom of the slope in the gulley.
After you catch your breath from ascending that steep slope, you are now up into the sparse trees and open area that brings you to the top. From here the views keep improving as you head up towards the gentle-sloped summit, at an elvation of 1385m. As you gain the summit you will get a spectacular view of the Comox Glacier to the Southwest. Looking west you can see the southern peak of Strathcona, and get an interesting aspect of Mt. Albert Edward. You can also look across all of Forbidden Plateau, and see Mt. Washington to the northwest.