|Cheam Peak dominates the Fraser Valley, rising above Bridal Falls and Agassiz just east of Chilliwack. The rarely climbed north face plunges 2000m down to the Trans Canada Highway, while an easy trail leads to the summit from the subalpine bowl to the southwest.|
In plan Cheam is pyramidal, with a north, northwest, south and east face. The north face is the steepest. The northwest face is also steep; the two are divided by a prominent spur which terminates in the prominent sub peak known as Red Pyramid or Red Tower (1400m).The west ridge divides the NW and S faces; below the gentle, rubbly S Face is the subalpine bowl of Spoon Lake. The vague SE ridge rises from the col with Lady Peak; the East face drops to Jones Lake beyond. The sharp crest of the NE ridge divides the east and north faces.
Name Notes: The word Cheam, in Halkomelem, means "wild strawberries" and properly refers to the ridge comprising Cheam and Lady, and the lower slopes around Spoon Lake and upper Airplane Creek.
Cheam Peak itself, in Halkomelem, is known as Theeth-uhl-kay which is variously translated as "the source" or and "The place from which the waters spring/slide". The peak is also considered to be the "mother mountain" or old woman overlooking her children dwelling in the valley. Nearby Lady Peak is the old woman's dog.
1. Southwest flanks (1888) FRA: large group from Chilliwack area; prob. earlier by natives. Class 2-3. The current approach is via the Cheam Trail which ascends the south slopes right to the summit (easy hike).
For more challenge, climb original route via W ridge (class 2-3 scrambling if followed directly). Approach variation: follow logging roads from Bridal Falls. A long day of slogging by the latter approach
2. NE ridge (1957) Jim Baldwin and partner. Class 4. Gain NE ridge from Jones/Wahleach Lake or overgrown trail from Highway 1. Climb this steep ridge of loosish rock mostly on the left (E) side, a classic ridge climb.
3. North face - NW ridge (1975) D. Heppner, D. Herchmer, D. Serl, K. Ulmer. Steep snow and rock. Gain bowl below N face by most bush free line possible - if you can find a trail, use it. Climb up and right on obvious diagonalling snow line to gain upper NW ridge, follow it to just right of summit. Better in winter or spring than summer.
4. N face (1981) M. de Jong, R MacGregor. IV, 5.7/M3 or M4. Approach as for N face/NW ridge, then climb upper steep face more or less directly to finish just L of summit. Pretty much a winter only route. Expect sustained, moderately technical mixed climbing with marginal pro.
5. North face central (mid-1990's) FRA: S. Neufeld and partner. IV, approximately M4. This line follows the N face-NW ridge winter route then, instead of continuing right below the steep upper portion of the north face as per the NW ridge finish, climbs more or less straight up to the summit, significantly to the right of the 1981 de Jong N face route.
Equipment: winter rack and appropriate clothing/footwear
6. NW Face (2003) FRA: D. Brayshaw, F. Touche. Steep snow, short sections of rock to M3.. Gain the bowl below NW face (right of NW ridge) via long bushwack up through forest left of prominent avalanche gully. Climb upper face just right of most prominent gully, working through rock bands mostly on steep snow with the odd rock section depending on snow cover.
7. W face (1988) B. Kay, C. Zozikyan. Steep snow, boulder problem rock moves. Another winter-only route. Begin by climbing the 1500m long, highly prominent avalanche-prone couloir rising from Fraser Valley just E of Bridal Falls. From its top, follow spur ridge to right side of NW face and climb snow through rock bands (minimal rock moves) to gain upper W ridge some 200-250m right of NW face route.
8. East face (1980's) steepish snow and/or class 4-5 rock. This face has probably been descended more than it has been climbed. Not really an established route in its own right, it offers a "direct" though unaesthetic (and avalanche threatened in winter) line to or from Jones Lake.