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North America, Canada, British Columbia, Homathko, Essex, and Queen Bess, Coast Range

Homathko, Essex, and Queen Bess, Coast Range. This fine area at the northern tip of the Homathko Snowfield had attracted us since we read the late Don Munday’s Canadian Alpine Journal account of his first ascent in 1942 of Mt. Queen Bess. He referred to the pointed peak of Homathko and the stately neighbor of Bess, Mt. Essex, both about 10,000 feet high. Six of us flew to Tatlayoko Lake on July 16, 1955. We were Elfida Pigou, Denys Lloyd, Donald Cowie, Derek Fabian, his wife Janet, and I, all of the Alpine Club of Canada. After landing us at the lake, the plane free-dropped our supplies near the lower edge of the Mantle Glacier. We packed in light the 12 miles to the Base Camp at the head of Stonsayako Creek. We took a whole day to cross flooded Nostetuko (or Mathew) Creek and two more for the sidehill bushwhack.

After a reconnaissance we climbed Homathko Peak on July 21. The route was the obvious one: behind the east ridge, up a snow gully to a rotten rib which led to the summit ridge. The rock was rotten and often steep. We crossed many steep gullies with soft snow over ice to reach the peak in 11½ hours. The next day we moved to a camp above steep slabs at 6,500 feet on the north side of the Stonsayako. From it on July 23 we climbed Essex via the south ridge in 12 hours. The going was easy, over four minor summits to a final very steep 600 feet of snow. We made the second ascent of Mt. Queen Bess on July 24. The route followed the edge of the Mantle Glacier in an anticlockwise circle to the foot of the previously unclimbed northwest ridge. The rock was good, and we followed the ridge all the way, reaching the summit snow ridge in about eight hours, where we joined the Munday route. It took another hour to the summit.

Patrick Sherman, Alpine Club of Canada