There are many creative names for peaks in the Kootenays. Many bear the names of explorers, past political elites, and miners who struck it rich. But no area is more aptly named than in the Valhalla Range. When looking at a map of the area you will see names that pay homage to Norse mythology and the gods who guided the Vikings through their lives. One place on the map dominates all others though, Mulvey Basin.
Mulvey Basin is steeped in symbolism. The basin is ringed by some of the largest faces in the Kootenays and their names reflect the dominance of the afterlife in Norse religion. Asgard (home of the Gods), Gladsheim (meeting hall of the Gods) and Gimli (The land where all good men go after they die) are just a few of the peaks that rise above the pristine Mulvey Basin.
I have wanted to visit the basin for years after climbing Gimli and peering into it from a high vantage. I was amazed by the large faces that rose straight up from the unspoiled lakes and meadows, a dichotomy that was hard to believe. Well, last week I ventured into the basin with three friends to camp overnight and sleep under the giants of Valhalla.
The mission began with a 2-hour drive that started in Nelson. Once out in the Slocan Valley, the road turned to dirt as we bounced around for 1.5 hours to the trailhead. After packing up and lining our car with chicken wire (to protect from Porcupines chewing on brake lines) we set off on our first goal of the base of Gimli Peak. The relentless vertical climb took about 1.5 hours, a little slower than our usual pace due to weighted down backpacks.
Once achieving the ridgeline, we worked our way around Gimli to the saddle that would give us access to Mulvey Basin. The ridgeline looks impassable at first, as it drops 40ft onto a 40° slope, but as we leaned over the vertical ridge we saw a natural staircase that gives access to the basin. Once past this obstacle, the descent required tromping over large snow patches, steep rock pitches and route finding in an area where no trail exists (ice-axe required). After 2 hours, we reached Mulvey Lake.
The lake sits directly beneath Gimli Peak, which is twice as large from the north face when compared to its already dramatic south face. With our bodies covered in sweat and dust, we plunged into the icy lake to refresh after hours of hiking. After years of dreaming of this place, we settled in for the night and watched as the stars passed above us and the Valhalla giants of Mulvey Basin.