The Black Tusk

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The Black Tusk
Black Tusk 4.jpg
The Black Tusk viewed from the southeast
Highest point
Elevation2,319 m (7,608 ft)[1]
Prominence569 m (1,867 ft)[1]
ListingMountains of British Columbia
Coordinates49°58′31″N 123°02′34″W / 49.97528°N 123.04278°W / 49.97528; -123.04278Coordinates: 49°58′31″N 123°02′34″W / 49.97528°N 123.04278°W / 49.97528; -123.04278[2]
The Black Tusk is located in British Columbia
The Black Tusk
The Black Tusk
ProvinceBritish Columbia
DistrictNew Westminster Land District
Protected areaGaribaldi Provincial Park
Parent rangeGaribaldi Ranges
Topo mapNTS 92G14 Cheakamus River
Age of rockPleistocene
Mountain typeStratovolcano
Volcanic arc/beltCanadian Cascade Arc
Garibaldi Volcanic Belt
Last eruptionPleistocene
First ascent1912 by William J. Gray and party[1]
Easiest routeExposed rock scramble

The Black Tusk is a stratovolcano and a pinnacle of volcanic rock in Garibaldi Provincial Park of British Columbia, Canada. At 2,319 m (7,608 ft) above sea level,[3] the upper spire is visible from a great distance in all directions. It is particularly noticeable from the Sea-to-Sky Highway just south of Whistler, British Columbia. Distinctive and immediately identifiable, The Black Tusk is among the best known mountains in the Garibaldi Ranges of the Coast Mountains. The volcano is part of the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt which is a segment of the Canadian Cascade Arc, but it is not within the geographic boundary of the Cascade Range.


To Squamish people, this mountain is known as t'ak't'ak mu'yin tl'a in7in'a'xe7en. In their language it means "Landing Place of the Thunderbird", speaking of the supernatural in7in'a'xe7en or Thunderbird. The jagged shape of the mountain and its black colouring are said to come from the Thunderbird's lightning.[4] The same is true for Mount Cayley, another stratovolcano farther north.


The Black Tusk is considered to be the remnant of an extinct andesitic stratovolcano which formed between about 1.3 and 1.1 million years ago.[5] Following glacial dissection, renewed volcanism produced the lava dome and flow forming its summit about 170,000 years ago. According to Natural Resources Canada, The Black Tusk was "perhaps the conduit for lava within a cinder-rich volcano. The loose cinder has eroded, leaving only the hard lava core."[6] The exposed lava rock of the core is loose and friable. It is also black, giving the mountain its name and character. Cinder Cone, to the east of The Black Tusk, produced a 9 km (6 mi) long lava flow during the late Pleistocene or early Holocene.

The mountain currently hosts two significant glaciers, in large cirques carved into the northeastern and northwestern flanks of the broad cone below the lava pinnacle. Both glaciers start from about 2,100 m (6,890 ft) and flow northwards to below 1,800 m (5,906 ft). The glaciers are heavily covered in rocky debris due to the crumbling nature of the Tusk's rock.

The Black Tusk is a member of the chain of volcanic peaks that run from southwestern British Columbia to northern California. The peaks formed in the past 35 million years as the Juan de Fuca, Gorda and Explorer plates to its west have been subducting under the North American Plate at the Cascadia subduction zone.


The Black Tusk's lower flanks and south summit are a popular backcountry hiking and scrambling destination. Most hikers approach from the Taylor Meadows campground to the south near Garibaldi Lake, although there is a second route from the north that travels by way of Helm Lake.[7]

The upper summit area at the top of the lava column can only be reached by scrambling up a short but exposed rock chimney to reach the south summit.[3] The true summit, only about a metre higher, lies just to the north across a precipitous drop. It is rarely climbed, requiring a rappel of about 10 m (33 ft) into a notch followed by a loose and dangerous reascent up the crumbling lava. On the northern side of the north summit stands an isolated and intimidating rock formation known as the "Bishop's Mitre", which is rumoured to be unclimbed.[4][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Black Tusk". Retrieved 2005-12-26.
  2. ^ "The Black Tusk". BC Geographical Names. Retrieved 2005-12-26.
  3. ^ a b Gunn, Matt (2005). Scrambles in Southwest British Columbia. Cairn Publishing. p. 78. ISBN 0-9735489-0-8.
  4. ^ a b "The Black Tusk". Canadian Mountain Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  5. ^ "Catalogue of Canadian volcanoes - Black Tusk". National Resources Canada. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
  6. ^ "Garibaldi: Where Fire Met Ice". Geological Survey of Canada. Archived from the original on 2010-05-22. Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  7. ^ "Garibaldi Provincial Park - Black Tusk/Garibaldi Lake Area". BC Parks. Archived from the original on 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  8. ^ "The Bishop's Mitre". Canadian Mountain Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-02-18.

External links[edit]