Mt. Gimli is a striking pillar of rock, towering high in the Valhalla range. This hike is tough, but rewarding. The trail leads up to the base of Gimli where it wraps around to a final ledge. Here, hikers can look down into the Mulvey Basin lakes, or just spin and spin and take in the panoramas of jagged peaks and sky.
Starting in the village of Slocan, drive 13km down Little Slocan FSR, following the signs for Valhalla Provincial Park. Turn right onto Bannock Burn FSR and drive 13km up. As of 2018, there are over 72 waterbars on Bannock Burn, making the drive unnecessarily challenging and restricted to 4WD high clearance vehicles.
As soon as you step out, it’s pretty clear where you’re headed:
Into the woods
The first part of the hike is just an uphill slog through the woods. The elevation gain is steady and you’ll get a solid workaround. The trail crosses a creek and then slowly climbs up towards the tree line.
As the trees begin to thin, Mt. Gimli becomes visible again:
Up to the saddle
The next section of trail takes you out of the trees and towards the base of Gimli. The trail winds up subalpine slopes and wildflowers proliferate in July. Soon the valley falls away and you are walking up a ridge with views all around.
There is a saddle on the south shoulder of Gimli with primitive camping for climbers. This camp is a good destination for most hikers who want to minimize the risks of the second half. You’ll reach this spot after about 2 – 2.5 hours of uphill hiking.
From the campground, you’ll see the spiky peaks around Mulvey Basin chained around a curved ridgeline. Looking south, see an expanse of overlapping ridges fading into hazy blue.
Along Gimli’s edge
If you wish to carry onwards to the view overlooking Mulvey Basin, keep hiking towards the base of Gimli and watch for the trail wrapping around to the left.
This last segment of the trail is narrow and skirts a steep slope. Caution is required as there is exposure and the risk of rockfall.
In order to reach the ridge, you must scramble over a field of boulders. These rocks have the same dark zebra-stripes that ripple across Gimli. The boulders are the size that seem to require both hands and feet to navigate. All good fun.
The trail ends at the steep sharp cliff over Mulvey Basin. The views are spectacular and terrifying. The drop into Mulvey Basin is 300m so you’ll want to be careful.
This is a “there and back again” hike so retrace your steps to head back down to the trailhead.