Colonel Foster Traverse

As low as:

$2,780.00 / person

(at 1:1 ratio)


This superb four-day alpine traverse offers huge exposure, varied and interesting climbing, and is undoubtedly an Island classic. Claim all the summits on this impressive mountain, while staying primarily in fourth and low fifth class terrain, with only a couple moves up to 5.8. While a strenuous and all-encompassing route, this traverse is a quintessential alpine experience on Vancouver Island. 

Note: there are a variety of routes up Colonel Foster. If you are interested in completing a different route, please get in touch for more information and a quote. 

Included in the price:

  • 4-day traverse with an ACMG guide
  • Group technical gear

Not included in the price:

  • Transportation to and from meeting point
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Personal equipment (technical gear available for rent)

Questions? Check out our FAQ page for details, or send us an email. 


Here are some details to consider about this region:

  • There is no cell service between Campbell River and Gold River
  • Trailhead approximately 1.5 hours from Campbell River
  • If you are looking to camp in the area before or after the trip, there are two pay campsites near Gold River, or there is a free camping location just outside Strathcona Park a few kilometers from Gold River here


All four days of this trip are strenuous. Day two and three especially require fit parties who are comfortable moving quickly and uproped over fourth class terrain. A typical itinerary looks like this:

  • Day 1 - Meet at 09:00 at the trailhead of the Elk River Trail. Hike up the Elk River valley past Landslide Lake to Foster Lake.
  • Day 2 - Continue up to the South Col of the mountain and complete the first half of the traverse. Bivy in the open near the main summit. 
  • Day 3 - Complete the second half of the traverse, then descend from the North Col back to Foster Lake. 
  • Day 4 - A relatively mellow hike back along the Elk River Trail to the cars.

Exact meeting details will be provided in a pre-trip email sent one-week prior to your trip. 
Questions? Check out our FAQ page for details, or send us an email. 


The Colonel Foster Traverse is an advanced and demanding route. To join this trip, we ask that participants:

  • Have scrambling experience and are comfortable soloing on 4th class ground (day two and three require us to move fairly quickly over 3rd and 4th class terrain)
  • Have a high level of fitness (able to gain 1200m vertical gain carrying a 15kg load
  • Comfortable climbing up to 5.8 rock in hiking boots
  • Have taken Island Alpine Guides Mountain Skills course or equivalent 
  • Are comfortable with loose rock and exposure
  • Are willing to bivouac in the open


Regular hikes and scrambles going up-hill with a load on will get you in shape for this trip. The goal needs to be comfort with traveling uphill as much as 1200m vertical gain, with a load of approximately 15kg. 

You should be comfortable climbing up to 5.8 rock in boots. Try bringing your boots to the crag and top roping climbs in them which you usually do in rock shoes. 

Questions about the suitability of this trip? Send us an email. We’re happy to help you find or customize trips to suit your needs. 

Gear List

You will be carrying all of your gear on technical ground for the whole trip. Lightweight gear is essential. Bring only what you need. Ensure all clothing and equipment are in good repair, and fitted properly to you.

Temperatures on this trip could range from -5°C at night to around 25°C (+) during the day. The following list should work for these conditions:
Available as a “Mountaineering Kit” rental add on ($15/day) when you book.
  • Helmet – UIAA approved and adjustable
  • 3 x locking carabiners – at least one should be pear-shaped
  • Harness – a simple, lightweight alpine seat harness
  • Belay/rappel device
  • 7mm accessory cord – 5 metre length
  • Double shoulder length sewn sling – should be rated to 22kn
  • Crampons – simple, 10-point general mountaineering crampon (either step-in or strap- on are fine depending on your boots)
  • Ice axe – general mountaineering tool, 60-80cm depending on your height
  • Long underwear (top and bottom), poly-pro, wool or silk
  • Mid-weight jacket, wool, fleece, synthetic or down
  • Rain gear (jacket and pants)
  • Toque, wool or fleece
  • T-shirt or long-sleeved shirt (white or other light colour), synthetic
  • Lightweight hiking pants, nylon or similar
  • Gloves
  • Mountaineering boots (suitable for carrying a 25 lb. load over rough terrain) 
  • 2 x pairs of socks, wool or synthetic blend
  • 2 x pairs of liner socks, poly-pro or silk (optional)
  • Gaiters that fit your boots (optional)

  • Sleeping bag (warm to -5°C)
  • Therm-a-rest or other sleeping pad (available for rent)
  • Bivy Sac

  • Small cooking pot
  • Fuel canister 
  • Stove 
  • Lighter
  • 3 breakfast, 4 lunches (ready to eat), 3 dinner, various snacks – must be lightweight, quick instant meals recommended. For tasty, nutritious and locally pre-made meals check out
  • Eating vessel and utensils

  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses with 100% UV block
  • Sunscreen, SPF lip balm
  • Toothbrush and a small container of toothpaste
  • Toilet paper and Ziplock bags for packing your toilet paper out
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • 2 x 1 litre water bottles (or a 2L bladder) (*please pack 2 litres of water to start your trip, to ensure you have drinking water before reaching the first water source for refills)
  • Water purification system
  • Pocket knife
  • Head-lamp with spare batteries
  • Small first aid kit (optional)
  • Hiking poles (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
  • A backpack big enough to fit the contents of this list (the smaller the better)

Group Gear Logistics

Your guide will bring along group emergency (first aid, communications device) and technical gear (the rope, the rack). You are only required to bring the items on this list.


The following items are available for rent as an “Add On” when you book (or upon request). These are available on a first come, first serve basis:

  • Mountaineering Kit - Includes all items on the technical gear list

If you require other from the personal gear list such as mountaineering boots, you can check out Sports Rent based out of Victoria.

Questions? Send us an email or read our blog for advice on choosing appropriate gear. 


Rich is a very skilled and extremely capable guide who I learned a lot from and without whom I would never have been able to complete this trip. It looks like we were the first party to summit both the SouthWest and the Main peaks this year according to the registry. We stayed at the excellent bivy shelter on the main summit and had a great sunrise. Everything went according to plan and there was a great mixture of mixed climbing, route finding moving on snow, excellent rock and not so excellent rock. Overall an extremely intense and exhilarating experience and worked out well with the 4-day time period. Next summer may be Rambler Peak or some other interesting adventure. I shall be in contact. Rod Szasz, Tokyo, Japan