Scramble to the Summit of the West Lion via the Binkert Trail

10 miles 5400 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Katherine Haveman

With sweeping views of North Vancouver and the Howe Sound, you will have to work for every inch of this tricky climb up the Lions (also known as The Sisters). Those looking to reach the true summit of the West Lion may wish to bring their own ropes, as the ropes that are tethered to the trail are in poor condition.

Find parking in a small gravel lot and be careful to park to the left of the sign, as cars do get towed in this area. Cross through the yellow road gate and begin by ascending the gravel road that provides moderate switchbacks before reaching a junction with the Mount Harvey trail, and keep right to continue on your way. Now on a dirt trail, there will be another junction in which you will want to keep right again, and the foliage around you becomes denser. Some of the brush is so overgrown that it almost forms a tunnel overhead, and the dirt trail slowly turns to boulders. Here the bugs can get quite bad in the summer, so be sure to bring your bug-spray. When you emerge from this foliage you are greeted by a series of small waterfalls.

Look for the sign for the Lions and keep right as you pass over a bridge and enter the forest where giant Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedar dominate the rugged mountain side. This is where it gets difficult. There are many downed trees on a trail that diminishes into a boot-path at times, and you will have to be aware of your heading (up obviously) and look for orange markers placed sporadically on the trees in the form of orange flagging tape, or reflectors. And in case you were wondering, it is steep. 

Eventually you will emerge onto a clearing and see the two Lions standing before you, and yes, THAT is where you are headed. Again, the bugs can get nasty here, so it may be best to continue to the ridge line before taking a break. Start heading towards the boulder field, and again, look for orange flagging tape or orange paint painted onto the faces of boulders if you happen to lose your way. Continue heading towards the right. There is a section where the boulders give way to a washed out path that climbs a small ridge, and here you may have to scramble for exposed roots or protruding branches as you pull yourself up a near vertical piece of trail. 

You will see a junction with the trail to Unnecessary Mountain, but keep to the left and avoid this aptly named, unnecessary detour, where you are going is much better. You are now on the Howe Sound Crest Trail, but will hop off again as you chose to summit the West Lion. Do some light scrambling up the gully. There are two ridges, the first hiding the second from view, that you must climb to find yourself face to face with the West Lion. At last, you have those sweeping views! Many people chose to end their climb here.

If you chose to continue, please do so carefully and with much caution to the weather. 

Find a boot-path that will take you to a lone tree where a rope is tied to help you descend to the col that connects the last ridge and the face of the West Lion. Make your way around the right side of the West Lion and find the fixed ropes that will help you with the class 3 scramble where you face dizzying exposure (it is not going up that is the hard part, it is coming down). These ropes are very worn, and those attempting the summit may want to bring their own. 

Finish your scramble and take in the views before carefully making your way down.

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Overall rating: 

Great Scramble... but be prepared

The West Lion is an awesome Scramble with some excellent exposure and multiple options for routes. The rock is excellent quality and the views are stunning. A couple notes though; 1) Having Matt Gunn's Guidebook is highly recommended as the 2) The Pink paint visible on the South Western Face are a harder route. It's lot's of fun, but it's mostly fifth class terrain, and not suitable for people newer to scrambling. Unfortunately this is the more obvious marker. There is some great advice in Matt Gunn's book on how to ensure the correct route is taken. 3) I saw a couple rocks fall while I was on the lion, but I was the only one wearing a helmet. And that was without people above me disturbing them. I also witnessed people knocking rocks loose and neglecting to call it out. Really bad ettiquette. A rock hitting here would have catastrophic consequences considering the exposure.

The Lions via HSCT

Thanks for the share! I've only been to The Lions through the Howe Sound Crest Trail, and it was one of the most amazing camping trips for me. It was a dry August long weekend and we had to pack LOTS of water. Although the dryness allowed us to sleep between the two peaks without the fly on our tent :) Photos here:

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