Cal-Cheak Columnar Basalts

Cal-Cheak Columnar Basalts

The Whistler Bungee Bridge on Cal-Cheak Forest Service Road spans a gorge carved out by the Cheakamus River. On the west side, several deep lava flows of various ages (current research suggests they’re between 40,000 – 8,000 years of age) have been exposed through downward erosion by the river; the east side is bedrock, showing that the water here flows along a lava-bedrock contact weakness. The glacier-polished column tops of the youngest lava flow can be found along the Sea to Sky Trail as it heads south through a pothole-studded landscape on the west side of the bridge.

Protection and guardianship are at the heart of the Geopark philosophy. We ask that you treat the land with the same reverence as its original inhabitants, and not remove anything from a site but what you’ve brought to help preserve it for future generations.

  • unusually high basalt columns
  • strolling on glacier-polished column-tops
  • bungee-jumping over Cheakamus Gorge

GEOLOGIC CONTEXT:

Multiple deep lava flows ~40,000 – 8,000 years of age are exposed along a lava-bedrock contact gorge carved by the Cheakamus River.

HOW TO SEE IT:

From Hwy 99 northbound, turn right 3 km north of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park onto Cal-Cheak FSR; from Whistler Village, the turnoff is located 14.3 km south, however, you must exit at the Callaghan Valley turnoff then return to the northbound highway to access Cal-Cheak FSR. Drive ~3.2 km on a rough gravel road to the Whistler Bungee Bridge. Alternate access: walk north 4 km on the Sea to Sky Trail from Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.

Services:

Parking, washrooms.

Hazards:

Unstable cliff areas and sensitive ecosystems; stay behind fencing and on marked trails.

Decimal Degrees (DD)

50.039920, -123.102539

Degrees Decimal Minutes (DDM)

50° 2.3952' N  123° 6.1523' W

Degrees Minutes Seconds (DMS)

50° 2' 23.712" N  123° 6' 9.1404" W

What Are Pillars?

The Fire & Ice Aspiring Geopark comprises four main geological pillars referenced in all interpretive material: (M)ountain Building, (G)laciation, (V)olcanism and (C)ollapse.

MOUNTAIN BUILDING

Mountain building can involve several processes that contribute to the formation of mountains, such as the collision of tectonic plates that result in folding, faulting, metamorphism and the creation of subduction zones associated with volcanic activity and igneous intrusion.

GLACIATION

Glaciation refers to landform phenomena associated with the formation, movement and recession of glaciers and ice sheets. In temperate latitudes such as British Columbia, montane glaciation at higher altitudes is the norm while continental glaciation occurred during Ice Ages like the recent Pleistocene.

VOLCANISM

Volcanism is the eruption of subterranean molten rock (magma) and gasses onto the surface of the planet and includes the production of volcanic landforms and the effects of eruptions and flowing lava on pre-existing surface formations.

COLLAPSE

Collapse is a term that refers broadly to both slow processes of destabilization and erosion by wind, water and ice, as well as rapid processes like rockfall and landslides.

Whether acting as primary or secondary forces, one or more of these processes figure in the creation of each geosite.