Coast Mountains

COAST MOUNTAINS are an immense chain of rugged peaks sweeping 1,600 km along the BC coast from VANCOUVER to the Alaskan Panhandle. Formed about 45 million years ago as a result of collisions between pieces of the earth's crust, they rise abruptly from the ocean and are intersected by deep FJORDS created by GLACIATION. Remnants of the glaciers are still present, notably around Mt WADDINGTON, at 4,019 m the highest peak entirely in the province. Other major summits are Mt Combatant, Mt Tiedemann, Monarch Mt, Mt Silverthrone and Mt Gilbert. The first ascents in this chain were made between the 1930s and 1950s. More recently mountaineers (see MOUNTAINEERING) have sought challenging secondary routes. About 300 km wide, the Coast Mts have a profound effect on BC's CLIMATE by forcing moisture-laden air off the ocean to rise, dropping precipitation on the lush FORESTS of the western slopes. As a result, parts of the coast have the heaviest rainfalls in N America, nurturing a lush growth of temperate RAIN FOREST dominated by FIR, HEMLOCK, CEDAR and SPRUCE. The eastern slopes descending to the Interior Plateau are less steep and comparatively dry. The range is bisected by 2 main transportation corridors: Hwy 20 across the CHILCOTIN to BELLA COOLA, and the SKEENA R Valley to PRINCE RUPERT.
Reading: John Baldwin, Mountains of the Coast, 1999.