Background photo - U.S. #5 Pikes Peak CO.
U.S. / Metric
Ridden by PJAMM 7-8-16
We travelled from afar for this one. Landing in Vancouver, we drove the 21 miles from the airport to Horseshoe Bay Ferry, then took the ferry the 1 hour 40 minutes ferry ride to Vancouver Island, home to the #7 ranked climb in Canada, Mt. Washington. The ferry is a wonderful experience and it is quite comfortable (see slideshow, below). Beware however that the ferry is expensive at $88 (plus $18 to reserve a space – which is recommended as we did not do so on the way over and missed the first ferry, resulting in a nearly 2 hour delay).
We stayed in Courtenay which is a quaint town of 24,000. We suggest riding the 10km/6 miles from Courtenay to the beginning of the climb [map]. Dove Road between Courtenay and Mt. Washington/Strathcona Parkway (on some maps the road is referred to as Mt. Washington Road, but the street sign the beginning of the climb reads Strathcona Parkway) takes us through open meadows of grazing horses.
The beginning of the climb is shallow for the first 2 kilometers but pitches up dramatically at kilometer 2 and runs 10-13% for the next 2.25 kilometers. There are a few double digit pitches on this climb that run 100 meters to a kilometer in length (after the first brutish 2.25 kilometer "test"). We are bordered by very lush ground cover, wildflowers and forest the entire climb which is reminiscent of Hilo, HI (Mauna Kea/Mauna Loa start). We do have a 2 ½ kilometer generally flat stretch beginning at about kilometer 6. Looking back as we ascend (or forward as we descend) there are several spectacular views towards east Courtenay, the Strait of Georgia and Texada Island, artistically framed by tall forest bordering the roadway. Unfortunately, it was raining at the top of the climb on the day we ascended, so we were not witness to the spectacular views we had hoped for at our summit.
We enjoyed the experience of the Mt. Washington, Vancouver Island climb from the ferry, to the quaint town of Courtenay and then on to a most challenging and scenic climb up the #7 ranked climb in Canada.
Roadway surface and traffic: In the early morning (before 9 a.m.) there is very little traffic. After 9 a.m. traffic picked up to mild, but was never bothersome. The roadway is in excellent condition and there is a paved shoulder for most of the climb.
Note: Click on “View full route" (top left) which opens the Mt. Washington Road RideWithGPS page. Hover over the distance line at the spot you would like to begin a sub- segment for this climb. Click your mouse on the start point and drag the vertical graphing line the distance you wish to obtain sub-detail from, then release the mouse at the end point. This will give you the following sub-detail for the selected segment in the “Metrics” window top right of the page: (a) distance, (b) elevation gained and lost, (c) max grade, (d) average grade (e) that segment's climb category – e.g. Cat 1, HC, etc., and (f) FIETS score for the segment.
Hover cursor over segment slices, below, for exact grade of a particular segment