The Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area is home to a few mountains that are worth a visit, including Needle Peak (2,090 meters), located in the heart of the southern portion of the park. While most visitors will choose to stop their journey on the col between Needle Peak and The Flatiron or on The Flatiron, continuing to the top of Needle Peak is well worth the effort.
The outing starts from an exit on BC-5 northbound. The trail is identified with orange reflecting markers and switchbacks steeply in the forest uphill for 1 kilometer until around 1,500 meters, where the alpine is reached and the grade becomes more gentle. The first views of the day’s objective can be enjoyed. The next 2.5 kilometers are a progressive ascent through a forest that becomes thinner and allows increasingly stunning views of the area.
The saddle between Needle Peak and The Flatiron (1,898 meters) is reached 3.8 kilometers from the parking lot and has an elevation of around 1,890 meters. Most people will choose to end their trip here as the views are unobstructed and impressive in every direction. The Flatiron is a little more than 2 kilometers away round-trip with a cumulative elevation gain of close to 200 meters.
For those wanting to bag Needle Peak, 1 kilometer east, the way to go is no longer marked, though it is obvious. An occasional piece of orange flagging may also be found in the snow or on a rock. The first crux of the climb will come on the first bump before the final ridge as snow and ice will cover some foot and hand holds. Patience and effort cleaning the cracks may be needed.
Once over the bump, the last ridge will be easy to traverse. The summit block is easier to climb than the first bump, but it does feature some moderate sections of 30- to 45-degree snow climbing with some exposure. Proper gear such as crampons and an ice ax or sturdy pole are mandatory.
The return is via the same trails. Use caution when downclimbing the steeper sections and the crux on the bump before the col. From the col, the descent will be fast and straightforward.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.