American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Battle Range, 1946: Further Attempts

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1947

Battle Range, 1946: Further Attempts. In 1946 L. M. Erskine, Jr., and T. Baker attempted to reach the Battle Range from Beaton, on upper Arrow Lake, via the Incomappleux River. A small glacier was found on the N. side of the pass between Poole and Boyd Creeks, but the Boyd-Silvertip and Boyd-Westfall passes were crossed, although no satisfactory route to the objective peaks was discovered. A second attempt via Kellie Creek resulted in the ascent of the highest point (9000 ft.), locally known as Battle Mtn., on the W. end of the range. A cairn was found on the summit. Alders and windfalls prevented the party from reaching Battle Creek. A final attempt to cross the Boyd-Kellie ridge failed because of a 200-ft. wall of loose rock in a recently abandoned cirque.

Members of both the 1945 and the 1946 parties believe that the old routes by snow passes southward from Glacier are no longer feasible with packs owing to ice melting away from head walls.

Additional information concerning the Battle Range has been received from Elizabeth Kauffman:

“In late August 1946 Norman Brewster, Andy (my husband) and I crossed several high passes and intervening timbered valleys in an attempt to reach the Battle Range. This range lies S. of the Purity Group in the Selkirks; it extends in an E.-W. direction from the Incomappleux River toward the Beaver-Duncan Valley. The region has proved inaccessible to many climbing parties. Most of the peaks are still unclimbed, and the range is unmapped.

“We approached from the S., starting at Beaton, B.C., on the N.E. arm of the upper Arrow Lake. A road follows the Incomappleux for several miles. At the mouth of Poole Creek we left it for an old trail which prospectors have opened up. It rises with a steady, even grade to timberline at the head of the creek valley. A well equipped cabin at about 5000 ft. provided a comfortable first night’s stopping point.

“On the second day (August 19th) we reached the high glaciated pass (about 8200 ft.) separating Poole and Boyd Creeks. Here we obtained our first view of the Battle Range, still 15 miles away, dominated by a magnificent, mostly snow-covered peak whose elevation must be over 10,500 ft. During the course of the trip we agreed that this peak should be given a name, preferably for some early explorer of the Selkirks: Mt. Butters seemed especially appropriate to us, and we decided to apply to the proper authorities on our return. By coincidence, this had already been done, and by the time we had returned the mountain had 1

“The steep, forested valley of Boyd Creek lay between us and another high pass leading toward the Battle Range. Here we were faced with a choice of routes. Rather than drop down and later regain about 3000 ft. elevation, we traversed a high rib of land which curved around the head of the valley. We crossed a glacier, some talus and some snow slopes. All were deceptively steep. A bad slip on my part forced us to hole up for that afternoon on a grassy camping spot at the source of the E. fork of Boyd Creek.

“Meantime, rain and stormy weather had held us up. On August 22nd we continued our traverse, this time on uncomfortably steep scrubby slopes, and finally over lovely alpine meadows. In the afternoon we reached the pass (about 7500 ft.) separating the valleys of Boyd and Westfall Creeks. From this point on, the map became highly inaccurate, and we had to trust entirely to our own observation. We could see that we had to gain the far side of the very steep Westfall Valley, where a high glacier seemed to lead to the Battle Range.

“On the 23rd we followed easy quartzite terraces northward toward the head of the Westfall. To the S.S.E. we could discern a group of fantastically sharp peaks in glaciated country. Later we discovered that these peaks are known locally as the Badshot Range, though Thorington calls them the Trout Lake Group. Their almost perpendicular ridges and pinnacles reminded us of photographs taken in the Bugaboos. The highest peak (Mt. Templeman, 10,000 ft.) appeared to have excellent climbing potentialities. Several lower peaks, of about 8500-9300 ft., closely resembled the sheer walls of Snowpatch Spire. However, our goal was the Battle Range, which lured us on to what must be equally good climbing.

“We suffered a blow when the beautiful quartzite boulevard ended in a 2000-ft. vertical drop down a rock cliff to the floor of the Westfall Valley. Careful climbing downward with heavy packs, and again sidewise on talus, brought us to the foot of the cliff. Here we intended to skirt around to the other side of the valley, still maintaining some altitude. This was a mistake. We wasted most of the afternoon on an uncomfortable traverse through thick brush and slide alder. Finally we had to descend to the creek for a camping spot.

“Here, at least, we knew that no more ‘side hill slogging’ lay in store for the morrow. On the 24th we ascended an abrupt 4000 ft. to the glacier, first through alders, then up a large fan-shaped basin of talus and scree. By noon we stood on the glacier, where we contemplated the magnificent peaks on the other side.

“A broad white glacier covers part of the S.W. side of Mt. Butters. This would appear to be the logical route of ascent. On the other hand, Mt. Butters’ nearest westerly satellite, a wedge- shaped wall of granite, might prove to be an exceedingly difficult climb. Several other sharp peaks also seem difficult. Toward the W., the range tapers off, then rises again in a series of 8000-9000-ft. peaks immediately above the Incomappleux. The most westerly of these has been ascended.

“From where we stood it appeared as though we need only cross the glacier, find a bivouac point and prepare for an ascent of Mt. Butters on the following day. Yet during that short crossing of the glacier our view of the topography changed completely. Our hopes were dashed: 4000 ft. below us lay the deep, wild Kellie Creek Valley, with its high granite flanks, one of the most uninviting sights we had ever seen. We deeply regretted that we had not followed some other approach. The range was close; it had never before been seen by climbers from this angle, but the last obstacle—the need to descend into Kellie Valley—was too great, considering our limited supplies and the few days we had left at our disposal.

“A last attempt to traverse above the valley by crossing a high granite ridge failed. Ascending a steep granite wall, we discovered that its opposite side was overhanging and smooth, for 500 ft., with no feasible route of descent. From here (at about 8600 ft.) we looked E. to the Beaver-Duncan valley and spotted other peaks which must be included in the Battle Range. We retraced our route to Beaton in three days, after using all the time at our disposal and consuming our supplies.”

1 The Geographic Board of Canada has recently conferred the name Mt. Butters on the peak of the Battle Range thought by Carpe to attain 10,750 ft.

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