Virgin Peak Is Climbed
The Bell Brothers Made the Ascent of Argus Mountain on Dominion Day.
Messrs. Bill and Alec Bell of Courtenay climbed Argus Mountain on Dominion Day. They are the first to make the climb. The peak is on the left side of the Cliffe Glacier and is considerably lower.
From the Comox Argus July 13, 1949.
Argus Peak Is Conquered
Mr. Bill Bell Made First Ascent on July 2nd
Back-packing into the rugged country west of the Comox Glacier Messers. Bill and Alec Bell found very deep snow on the Cliffe Glacier of which the guardian peaks are The Red Pillar and the Argus Mountain. On the morning of July the second Mr. Bill Bell climbed to the top of Argus Mountain but found the Red Pillar too treacherous.
Eighteen years ago a party consisting of Messrs. Ben Hughes, Arthur Leighton, Jack Gregson and W.A. [Adrian] B. Paul climbed the Red Pillar for the first time. Two years before they had seen the great mountain to the west when they were on their way to the Comox Glacier and had resolved then to attempt it. At that time there was no logging up the South Cruikshank and the Trout [Willemar] Lake at the end of Comox Lake had not been logged so that their journey started from the end of Comox Lake with fifty pound packs. They took boats to the middle of the second Trout [Forbush] Lake and then continued up the valley to the source of the Puntledge.
The Red Pillar
Too Many Camels
A Tough Trip
Snow Too Treacherous
The Northwest Ridge is reached via the Comox Glacier trail. For those interested in climbing Argus it is best undertaken as a three day trip camping at the Frog Ponds for two nights. On the second day cross the Comox Glacier and climb Argus Mountain then return to camp in the afternoon. On the third day return to the vehicle at the trailhead. Argus Mountain has been climbed from the trailhead to the summit return in under twelve hours by fit, competent climbers.
The Southwest Ridge is reached by a trail beginning at Oshinow Lake that ascends the South Ridge of the Red Pillar. Camp is commonly made at a small tarn soon after breaking out into the alpine a couple of hours from the Red Pillar. A traverse is made on the west side of the mountain to reach the Cliffe Glacier and then a short walk across the glacier to reach the base of the Southwest Ridge. Although it can be done as a three day trip it is worth spending an extra day in the area and climbing both Mount Harmston and the Red Pillar while in the vicinity.
Death or injury is rare on both the Cliffe and Comox Glaciers and the surrounding mountains but one death has occurred on Argus Mountain. In the summer of 1960 a party of thirty climbers headed into the mountain for the weekend setting up a camp near Mount Kookjai. The next day twenty-one stayed in camp while nine went on towards the Comox Glacier. From there five ventured on with the intention of summiting The Red Pillar which meant climbing over the top of Argus Mountain en-route. While near Argus' summit twenty-eight year old Harry Winstone of Crofton fell eighty feet and then slide down five hundred feet of shale and a thousand feet of ice before coming to rest. His companions reached him and made him as comfortable as possible under the circumstances and then two of them set off for assistance, however, he passed away five hours later before rescuers reached the scene.
Accidents in the mountain can happen and when they do they occur fast. Having the right equipment and alpine experience can minimize the dangers but there are always factors that are beyond ones controls. Nowadays rescuers can be on the scene of accidents in a matter of hours because of cell and satellite phones but these shouldn't lead to complacency. Knowledge and experience are gained by traveling in the mountains with experienced people and through workshops on alpine procedures scheduled regularly by various mountaineering clubs. This allows climbers and hikers to safely enjoy the stunning alpine attractions of the mountains Vancouver Island has to offer.