American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, British Columbia, Coast Range, Homathko Icefield Traverse and Various First Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1978

Homathko Icefield Traverse and Various First Ascents. According to reports, no one had ever crossed the Homathko. Jim LaRue, Phil Hocker, Ben Haverty, Chip Ausley, Eric Richardson and I spent the last three weeks of July finding out why. An Appalachian Mountain Club group had explored the eastern approaches in 1957, reached the head of the Jewakwa Glacier and turned back. We decided on a similar approach via Chilko Lake but determined to see it through to salt water at Bute Inlet about 40 miles west-southwest of the lake and to Waddington Harbor. We left Chilko Lake Lodge via boat and headed for the mouth of Nine Mile Creek, 30 miles down-lake. A recent burn and a sketchy prospector’s trail made for easier going than expected and we crossed the divide into Allaire Creek in three days, two days ahead of schedule. Camped below the Alph Glacier, we found the snout melted back a full quarter-mile from its position in aerial shots 10 years ago. What can only be described as a Sasquatch track turned up in camp next morning and reminded us that the 1957 party, too, had found tracks several miles up the glacier. The Alph forms a highway onto the eastern edge of the Homathko via Sasquatch Pass, discovered in 1957. At our camp in the pass, the weather cleared. Fine weather remained unbelievably for the rest of the trip. A first ascent was made of Burghley Peak (8500 feet; NCCS I, F4; 9 leads) by LaRue, Haverty, Richardson and me and the climb of Mist Peak (8500 feet; cairn found) by Hocker and Ausley. Our next destination was the head of the Heakamie Glacier, 15 miles to the southwest. A long day on the ice got us halfway there, below two nunataks. Hocker soloed the northeast ledges of an impressive tower running north from camp. La Rue, Haverty, Richardson and I climbed the northwest face of the granite fin south of camp nearly to the top. Another long day found us looking down the Heakamie, one relentless icefall from head to snout, losing 3500 feet in five miles. Fortunately a brushy traverse about 500 feet above the north edge of the glacier allowed us to avoid the worst of the séracs, but it was late before we got off the ice. A long day of boulders and slabs brought us to the first timber we had seen in nearly two weeks. As we finally rounded the corner from Heakamie Creek into the Homathko River valley, the brush appeared, a mere three miles from the abandoned logging road which was our highway to the sea. An entire day later, we reached the road, completely exhausted. Two days later we got to Waddington Harbor.

Vincent R. Lee

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