American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Yukon Territory, St. Elias Mountains, Various Ascents in the Waddington Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1996

Various Ascents in the Waddington Range. May can be pretty fine in the Coast Mountains, but it can also be pretty darn bad. Last May was the finest ever, and an unusually large number of climbing parties happened to be on hand to enjoy the fruits. Jim Elzinga and I had planned to link up with John Harlin and Mark Jenkins for simultaneous ascents of separate new routes on the unclimbed true south face of Mount Waddington, but they encountered such untypically clement weather on their walk-in that they were on their summit day by the time we flew in. We spent a day lazing about together after their descent, then they headed out and we headed up. We climbed the long, straight couloir lying right of the main rock buttress at the center back of the Buckler cirque; this couloir is remarkably prominent from the southeast (see Don Munday's early photo of "Mystery Mountain from Mount Munday" in The Unknown Mountain, for instance). Four hundred fifty meters of firm 50° névé led to a cul de sac with a 30 meters Grade 4 waterfall pitch. Another two pitches of snow and easier ice in a gully and a couple ropelengths up steep snow brought us out onto the normal Southeast Ridge route only a couple hundred meters east of the base of the summit tower. The weather was miserable and we bailed (Towers Couloir, 700 meters, III WI4). A couple days later we climbed a wonderful, moderate but entertaining seven-pitch gully splitting the west buttress of the westernmost summit of Mount Munday. A couple exciting rock traverse pitches on the ridge crest — the first steep, solid, and delicate, the second not very steep, rubbly, and even more delicate — brought us to the final snow arête. The weather was superb and we lazed forever (Starship Couloir, 500 meters, III 5.8 WI3). That same day, Bruce Kay and Larry Stanier were day-tripping Waddington from Rainy Knob, having previously climbed the tremendous South Buttress on Mount Tiedemann in only three days (third ascent). A couple days later, they established a superb new line on the northeast face of Bravo Peak (880 meters IV 5.8 mixed WI3), and a most remarkable May drew to a close. Would that they all were that way.

Don Serl, Mountain Equpment Co-op

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