Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: Mt James TurnerColumnar Jointing: bizarre looking columns of oddly angular rock formations that can be found in many places around Whistler and worldwide.  Generally found in large clusters packed together in a uniformly vertical array of columns that appear to be several metres long and usually more than 30 centimetres in diameter.  Surface erosion causes the columns to fracture and break apart, giving the appearance of an ancient, crumbling wall.

Whistler & Garibaldi Park

 Ablation Zone WhistlerAblation Zone  Accumulation Zone WhistlerAccumulation Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAdit Lakes  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAiguille  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAlpine Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArête  Garibaldi Park WhistlerARRTI  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArmchair Glacier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Barrier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBattleship Islands  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBears  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBench  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBergschrund  BivouacBivouac  Whistler Bungee BridgeBungee Bridge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCairn/Inukshuk  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCarter,Neal  Garibaldi Park WhistlerChimney  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCirque  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCloudraker  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Mountains  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCol  Garibaldi Park WhistlerColumnar Jointing  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCordilleran  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCornice  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCorrie Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCrevasse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDalgleish,Alec  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDeadfall  Garibaldi Park WhistlerEmerald Forest  Garibaldi Park WhistlerErratic  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Fissile  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFitzsimmons Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFitzsimmons Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFyles,Tom  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Ranges  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Volcanic Belt  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGemel  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGlacier Window  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGreen Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerHoary Marmot  Garibaldi Park WhistlerKrummholz  Garibaldi Park WhistlerLithophyte  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMoraine  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMt Garibaldi  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMt James Turner  Garibaldi Park WhistlerNorthair Mine  North Arm FarmNorth Arm  Garibaldi Park WhistlerNunatuk  Garibaldi Park WhistlerOverlord  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPeak 2 Peak  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRainbow Lodge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRoundhouse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRubble Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerScree  Garibaldi Park WhistlerSpearhead Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTarn  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Table  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTownsend,Charles  Garibaldi Park WhistlerUsnea  Waterbar or Cross DitchWaterbar  Garibaldi Park WhistlerWinram,Mills

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The origin of these extraordinary rock formations is very interesting and leaves you imagining the not-too-distant past where volcanoes unleashed torrents of lava that met walls of ice hundreds of metres thick.  Though columnar jointing can occur in different types of rock, they are mainly formed from basalt.  Basalt is an igneous rock, formed from lava.  During periods of glaciation, such as the last Ice Age that covered much of North America with ice sheets two kilometres thick.  Columnar jointing is a formation that results from basaltic lava rapidly cooling from contact with a glacier.  Where the basaltic lava contacts the glacier it will cool and solidify rapidly compared to the lava further away from the glacier.  Cooling rock contracts and rapidly cooling rock tends to fracture in uniformly hexagonal columns.  Less evenly spaced fractures produce 5 sided or 7 sided columns and the length of the columns is determined by the depth of the lava flow.  A column several metres long will have formed from top to bottom as a series of shorter sections fracture all the way down.  When you encounter columnar jointing they appear to be solid columns several metres long that have broken off into smaller pieces.  With the top down cooling of the columns, they likely were not broken off, but were already fractured at the time they formed.  There are several great places in Whistler to see columnar jointing, though they are more specifically known as the Cheakamus Valley Basalts.  Along the highway south of Whistler you will see several great examples visible while you drive.  The new Jane Lakes West trail near Cheakamus Crossing in Whistler takes you past some excellent example of columnar jointing that you will actually trip over at times.  Nearby, the Whistler Train Wreck trail has an excellent viewpoint that looks across to an enormous wall of crumbling columns.  Brandywine Falls is possibly the most impressive place in Whistler to see columnar jointing and give you an idea of the enormity of the Cheakamus Valley Basalts.

Brandywine Falls - Columnar Jointing in Whistler

Brandywine Falls has a very interesting and visible geologic history and gives you great views of Cheakamus Valley Basalts columnar jointing.  Looking across from the viewing platform you will see several obvious rock layers in the crumbling canyon the falls pour into.  These layers were formed by repeated basaltic lava flows in the last 34000 years.  At least four of these basaltic lava flow layers have been identified.  The striking, rectangular columns of rock that make up the bands is the result of rapid cooling where lava and glacier ice met.  The layers in between the basaltic layers is comprised of glacial till.  This easily eroded, unconsolidated rock crumbles and erodes quickly.  When the glacier that filled the Cheakamus Valley receded 12000 years ago, it left the vertical wall of layered rock you see at Brandywine Falls today.  Thousands of years later water erosion from Brandywine Creek continues to erode the canyon.  One puzzling aspect about geology of Brandywine Falls is the enormous size of the gorge the relatively small Brandywine Creek has presumably gouged out.  Thousands of years of erosion by a creek of its size wouldn’t come close to creating such a chasm.  The answer, it is thought, resulted from one or several large floods that gouged out the wide chasm we see today.  Other evidence that points to large flooding is presence of large rounded boulders in the vicinity of the falls.  Glacier scoured rock differs considerably from water eroded rock.  Periodic, massive floods at the end of the last ice age are suspected to have resulted from ice dams holding back, then releasing enormous floods.

Brandywine Falls Provincial Park

Basaltic Columnar Jointing Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls Hiking Trail Map

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Whistler Train Wreck - Columnar Jointing in Whistler

Whistler Hiking Trail RatingThe trail to Whistler Train Wreck is an easy, yet varied route through deep forest, across a great suspension bridge over Cheakamus River, to a stunning array of wrecked train cars. The trail from your car to the wrecks only takes about 15 minutes, however once you reach one wreck, you see another, then another. There are seven wrecks in total that are spread over an area about 400 metres long.  Along with the surreal train wrecks painted with stunning murals, you find yourself in a thick forest that runs along Cheakamus River. Cheakamus River is a beautiful, wild and crashing river that snakes past the train wrecks. Numerous side trails take you to some marvellous viewpoints, several metres above the rushing water below.  To find the columnar jointing viewpoint shown here you just have to find the trailhead/parking area just a couple hundred metres along the Cheakamus River FSR(previously Jane Lakes FSR).

Whistler Train Wreck Columnar Jointing

Whistler Train Wreck Columnar Jointing

Whistler Train Wreck Map 2020

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Jane Lakes - Columnar Jointing in Whistler

Jane Lakes Hiking Trail RatingJane Lakes are a very remote feeling set of lakes in the beautiful wilderness near Cheakamus Crossing.  Consisting of three lakes, West Jane Lake, East Jane Lake and Little Jane Lake, they have a great network of hiking trails that link and circle them all.  The Jane Lakes West trail already has some great viewpoints and highlights.  Several areas along the trail, you emerge from the trees and get a great view down the valley.  The unmistakable, jagged peak of Mount Fee is nicely visible from several places.  The trail also cuts through large boulder fields from crumbling cliffs.  Further along you come to, and actually trip over a stunning remnant of a geologically recent phenomenon called the Cheakamus Valley Basalts.  During the end of the last ice age, basaltic lava flows pools against the retreating glacier that filled Cheakamus Valley.  The rapid cooling of the lava resulted in sets of intersecting, closely spaced fractures that formed regular arrays of angular, six sided columns of stunning symmetry.  At several places along the trail, you come to a cliff wall of these bewildering columns of rock known as columnar jointing.  These alien looking walls are in various stages of crumbling and breaking apart and the Jane Lakes West trail is possibly the best place around to touch and admire them.

Jane Lakes Columnar Jointing

Jane Lakes Columnar Jointing

Jane Lakes Trail Columnar Jointing

Jane Lakes Trail Map

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 Ablation Zone WhistlerAblation Zone  Accumulation Zone WhistlerAccumulation Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAdit Lakes  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAiguille  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAlpine Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArête  Garibaldi Park WhistlerARRTI  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArmchair Glacier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Barrier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBattleship Islands  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBears  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBench  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBergschrund  BivouacBivouac  Whistler Bungee BridgeBungee Bridge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCairn/Inukshuk  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCarter,Neal  Garibaldi Park WhistlerChimney  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCirque  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCloudraker  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Mountains  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCol  Garibaldi Park WhistlerColumnar Jointing  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCordilleran  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCornice  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCorrie Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCrevasse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDalgleish,Alec  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDeadfall  Garibaldi Park WhistlerEmerald Forest  Garibaldi Park WhistlerErratic  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Fissile  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFitzsimmons Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFitzsimmons Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFyles,Tom  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Ranges  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Volcanic Belt  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGemel  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGlacier Window  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGreen Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerHoary Marmot  Garibaldi Park WhistlerKrummholz  Garibaldi Park WhistlerLithophyte  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMoraine  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMt Garibaldi  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMt James Turner  Garibaldi Park WhistlerNorthair Mine  North Arm FarmNorth Arm  Garibaldi Park WhistlerNunatuk  Garibaldi Park WhistlerOverlord  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPeak 2 Peak  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRainbow Lodge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRoundhouse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRubble Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerScree  Garibaldi Park WhistlerSpearhead Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTarn  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Table  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTownsend,Charles  Garibaldi Park WhistlerUsnea  Waterbar or Cross DitchWaterbar  Garibaldi Park WhistlerWinram,Mills

Tom Fyles (27 June 1887 - 27 March 1979) was an astoundingly skilled climber that figured prominently in the climbing community of Vancouver for more than two ...
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Ablation Zone: the lower altitude region of a glacier where there is a net loss of ice mass due to melting, sublimation, evaporation, ice calving or ...
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Crevasse: is a split or crack in the glacier surface, often with near vertical walls.  Crevasses form out of the constant movement of a glacier over ...
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Cairns, inukshuks or inuksuks are a pile or arrangement of rocks used to indicate a route, landmark or a summit.  The word cairn originates from the ...
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Emerald Forest is a cute little forest that is well hidden between Whistler Cay and Alpine.  From Whistler Village, if you go down to the end of Lorimer ...
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Russet Lake sits in a wide, glacier carved valley at the base of The Fissile.  In the direction opposite The Fissile, up on a plateau less than a ...
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The Rubble Creek trailhead is the main access point for many of the best hikes and sights in Garibaldi Provincial Park.  Rubble Creek is located midway ...
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Deadfall means a tangled mass of fallen trees and branches.  There are several name variations for fallen trees that are commonly used in Whistler.  ...
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Rent Hiking Gear Whistler Garibaldi Park

Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking

Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerAlexander Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyAncient Cedars  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerBlack Tusk  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerBrandywine Falls  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrandywine Meadows  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrew Lake  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerCallaghan Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerCheakamus Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyCheakamus River  Whistler Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyFlank Trail  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Park  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerHelm Creek  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyJane Lakes  Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler in SeptemberJoffre Lakes  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyKeyhole Hot Springs  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyLogger’s Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyMadeley Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMeager Hot Springs Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerNairn Falls  Whistler Hiking Trail HardNewt Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail ModerateRainbow Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRainbow Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyRing Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRusset Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasySea to Sky Trail  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSkookumchuck Hot Springs  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSloquet Hot Springs  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMount Sproatt  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

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Rainbow Falls is located just a short hike from the start of the Rainbow Trail to Rainbow Lake.  The trailhead is along Alta Lake Road on the far side of ...
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Shannon Falls towers above Howe Sound at 335 metres as the third tallest falls in BC.  The wonderful, though very short trail winds through a beautiful old ...
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Cirque Falls crashes down from Cirque Lake to Callaghan Lake, connecting these two remarkably beautiful and very different lakes.  Where Callaghan Lake is ...
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Whistler Train Wreck is a hidden little world of brightly graffiti painted, wrecked train cars along a gorgeous stretch of Cheakamus River.  One ...
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Wedgemount Lake itself is a magnificent destination for a day hike or spectacular overnight beneath the dazzling mountain peaks and stars above Garibaldi Provincial Park. Many sleep under the stars on one ...
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Black Tusk is the extraordinarily iconic and appropriately named mountain that can be seen from almost everywhere in Whistler.  The massive black spire of crumbling rock juts out of the earth in an incredibly ...
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Whistler has an absurd number of wonderful and free hiking trails and Parkhurst Ghost Town certainly ranks as one of the most unusual, exotic and interesting. Parkhurst was a little logging town perched on ...
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Cirque Lake is a wild and beautiful lake that hides high above and beyond Callaghan Lake in Callaghan Lake Provincial Park.  What makes Cirque Lake special among the other sensationally beautiful lakes in the ...
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