North America, Canada, Coast Mountains of British Columbia, South of Bella Coola
Coast Mountains of British Columbia, South of Bella Coola. If there is any doubt as to the accessibility of the area south of Bella Coola, the arrival of Houston’s 1955 convertible removed such doubt. The road is dirt for some 300 miles. If one doesn’t mind the never ending pounding that a low-slung car will take from high rocks on the road, any normal passenger-car can now cover the distance from Williams Lake to Bella Coola in 12 to 15 hours. Our group included Will Siri, Dave Rynin, George Whitmore, James Wilson, John Dorsey, and Dick Houston. We had an eye on unclimbed Snowside Mountain, 9600 feet, about 30 miles south of Bella Coola. We rolled into Bella Coola on a Monday morning ready for about three weeks of adventure. Luck was with us as we hitched a boat ride with a local pulpwood company up the South Bentinck arm to their outpost lumber camp. Behind this camp the brush started, as did the hard work. In six days of difficult back packing through indescribably thick brush we arrived within sight of Ape Lake, the site of the base camp of the only other party to penetrate this area.
Again, with Luck as our seventh member, we began what proved to be four days of perfect weather. Base Camp was placed at 6500 feet on the Wardrum Glacier to the SE of Snowside. The first day of climbing was spent on the SW face, and, after attempting the wrong mountain, we turned back as darkness approached. The following day proved that the entire mountain was indeed rotten. The climbing teams continually ducked to avoid the bombardment as we attempted the great NE ridge of the peak. This route brought us to within 100 feet of the summit, where caution and darkness slowed the group. From high on a very steep knife edge of snow we retreated. We did not avoid a night out, however, for we were forced to wait at about 8000 feet for better light.
Two days later Wilson, Whitmore, Rynin, and Dorsey returned to the SW face and with the aid of several rock pitons overcame the steep and icy gullies and completed the first ascent.
The homeward trek of four days started at the head of Nusatsum River and moved down to Bella Coola River and the ever welcome cars.
Richard C. Houston