American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Canada, Coast Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1951

Coast Range. In addition to making two brilliant new routes on Mt. Waddington in the summer of 1950, the Oscar Cook- Richard Houston Sierra Club party made a number of other important ascents in this area. On July 23rd Dunmire, Wilson and Cook, with the aid of six pitons on one exposed pitch, climbed the S.E. Rock Tower of Waddington (12,900 ft.). Spearman Peak (11,000 ft.) and Whymper Dome (7000 ft.) fell easily, but the N. face of Munday (11,500 ft.) afforded a struggle. All five peaks of Munday were climbed, and on one of them Don Munday’s original register was discovered. Full of vigor, the party went on to ascend Grenelle and Fascination (the latter by both the N.E. arête and the N. face). A peak between Merlon and Grenelle was labelled Sierra and also promptly scaled.

After troubles with a large falling rock and a bergschrund, the party, now camped below Merlon, ascended this peak by the S.E. and S.W. chimneys before a storm struck. Several days later the party split in two and from new camps climbed Mt. Jeffery by the long S. arête, and Marcus Smith from the S.E. The latter required 12 hours of climbing on the final day. Long, Steck and Bettler now climbed Stiletto and found fourth-, fifth- and sixth-class climbing along the E. edge of the N. face. Next day the same trio attacked Mt. Serra on the climb that Bettler describes as follows: Today we were headed for Mt. Serra, hoping to conquer one or two of its five peaks. We elected to try the snow couloir between the north faces of the third and fourth peaks (Serra 3 and Serra 4, counting from the west). Chopping steeps up over a vertical lip of the bergschrund, Bill Long led over hard snow and ice, cutting steps all the way. One hundred feet up,

Bill placed an ice piton and belayed me to him, then continued for another 100 feet till he gained the rocks at the saddle. All this time Al waited patiently below, enduring the rain of chips which swept down the 55-degree slope in our wake.

From the saddle we scrambled up the ridge toward Serra 3 (to the west). The way was blocked by a huge gendarme which, after an unsuccessful attempt to turn to the right, we by-passed by climbing down and around with a series of chimneys and a finger-tip traverse. From there it was a romp up to the final summit block, where a safety piton was used to help overcome a vicious looking, but not too difficult, ice-covered pitch, in which the holds were discovered only by beating away a sheath of ice.

Pausing to place a register, we retraced our route to the saddle and went on to Serra 4. A few feet of scree brought us to an 80-degree face, where one piton was sufficient to protect the leader up a crack. Above this an easy friction pitch led to the summit ridge, where 30 feet à cheval along the ridge put us on top. We placed another register and stayed a while to ponder over the magnificent scene of Waddington and her consorts.

Back in camp we cooked supper and settled down for the night to dream of Serra 2, the highest of the group and as yet unclimbed. We had scouted the route from Serra 3 and were sure that it would go, but morning brought with it the predicted storm. It raged around our lonely tent for three days, discouraging all thought of venturing onto the peaks.

By the time the storm had blown itself out it was August 16th, and the rest of the party was due to meet us in preparation for the trip back to civilization.

Backpacking and bushwhacking brought the party out to Tatla Lake where wheeled transport is available. A remarkable fact about this remarkable party is that the entire eight-week trip, with air drop, flight in, food, equipment and transportation to and from San Francisco cost only $165 a person!

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