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North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, Mount Vancouver, West Face

Mount Vancouver, West Face. Mount Vancouver was first climbed in 1938 by Noel Odell and party. Our ascent, the fifth, was by the previously unclimbed west face. We flew in from Kluane on May 27. After four days of avalanche watching, we had some idea of what the mountain was like, and on the 31st we placed a cache of 12 days’ supplies at Camp I. The following day we returned with 1200 feet of polypropelene rope and four additional days of food. For the lower, steeper section, about 55°, we used a moving siege tactic in three stages of 1600 feet. This got us to Camp II, and involved four days of climbing and two days of storm sitting. Above Camp II the angle eased considerably, but we were again held down by bad weather. We did, however, manage to place Camp III, just 800 feet higher and to fix an ice step above. The weather cleared on June 8, so we were able to push on to a large platform which constituted Camp IV, the Ritz. Behind the Ritz loomed our biggest problem, a 50-foot overhanging ice wall. This wall took eight hours to climb and involved aiding from axe and terrordactyl shafts, and a dead-boy. Above this, John Calvert broke trail for a continuous six hours until we reached a safe campsite, a mere 1500 feet from the summit. We were exhausted. The next day we slept late, and reached the top (15,850 feet) at six o’clock that evening, June 10, under clear skies. The descent down the ascent route took two days and underlined the unmanifest dangers of the ascent. On the last rappel two of us were caught in an exposed position by a volley of rockfall, and as we reached the glacier, the gullies that we had just descended avalanched. Finally we were treated to an impressive display; a 400-foot-high sérac fell 2500 feet to the glacier and erupted to send snow and wind to us at Base Camp five miles away. Expedition members were John Calvert, leader, John Lauchlan, Mike Sawyer and I.

Trevor Jones, Alpine Club of Canada