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The Columbia Mountains consist of three parallel north–south ranges (Purcell, Selkirk and Monashee) with sharp peaks of 2,000–3,000 m separated by long, narrow valleys occupied by Kootenay Lake and the Columbia River.These mountains consist mainly of sedimentary and intrusive rocks of Cretaceous (146 to 65.5 million years ago), Triassic (248 to 206 million years ago) and Jurassic (199.6 to 145.5 million years ago) ages, and contain many mineral deposits.These scenic mountains have peaks up to 3,000 m in the southern part, with Mount Waddington, the highest peak entirely in BC, rising to 4,016 m.
Many of the rocks are lavas of Cretaceous and Tertiary (65.5 million to 2.6 million years ago) geological ages with apparently little mineralization except around the plateau edges.
The highest peak in BC, Fairweather Mountain (4,663 m), straddles the Alaska border in the St Elias Mountains just northwest of the Coast Mountains.
Only three major rivers have cut through the barrier of the Coast Mountains: the Fraser, Skeena and Stikine.
British Columbia is Canada's most westerly province, and is a mountainous area whose population is mainly clustered in its southwestern corner.
BC is Canada’s third-largest province after Québec and Ontario, making up 10 per cent of Canada’s land surface.