American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Waddington Range, Various Activity

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Waddington Range, Various Activity. This was an interesting year, with a long, dry, hot introduction to the season putting the glaciers into very difficult conditions for travel, but shaping up the mountains (especially the rock lines) better than in most summers. A lot of activity was recorded, most of it focused on peaks other than “The Wadd,” which was climbed only twice—the Bravo Icefall was not in friendly shape!

The year started with an incredibly adventurous outing when Frenchman Lionel Daudet and his friends (his brother Damien, George Jougeau, and Swiss big-wall specialist Jean-Michel Zweiacker) spent three weeks ferrying 300 kilos of gear on foot and skis into the range to attempt a new route on Combatant Mountain. Lionel and Damien eventually climbed a snow/ice approach plus six difficult mixed and rock pitches (to 6c Al) left of Skywalk on the southwest pillar. Four days of storm forced retreat from a portaledge bivy well short of the summit, although a nut in a crack was passed on the last pitch, so the route may have joined Walk on the Wild Side.

Jim Haberl and Keith Reid made the first repeat (with minor variations) of the very fine Risse Route (IV 5.8 ice to 50°, 700m) on the south face of the Northwest Peak of Waddington in June, which is usually a washout month.

Ben Gilmore and Kevin Mahoney flew into the Waddington-Combatant Col early in July (again, earlier than is typical), and made the second ascent of the complete North Couloir (IV 5.6 Al, ice to 65°, 1500m) of Mt. Hickson over two days as a warm-up. They followed this with a new two-pitch 5.10a direct start to Skywalk, and topped off their visit with a steep new rock route (Solo Blue, IV 5.6 A3, six 60m pitches) on the west face of the Middle Buttress on Combatant. Ben completed this route on his own because of a tendon injury suffered by Kevin.

The “old-timers” from Seattle (Glen Cannon, Dave Knudson, Mike Martin, Peter Renz, Mickey Schurr, and Jon Wellner, with youngster Chris Fast) visited the Sunrise Glacier. Numerous first repeats were made, and several first ascents. Of particular note were the climbs made on the small rock peaks between Cataract, Isolation, and Malemute glaciers, attractive and seldom-visited destinations, and the first ascent of d’Artagnan Spire in the Four Guardsmen.

A large group from Seattle (five members) and Germany (three members) spent the last week of July and first week of August in the range, accomplishing several significant climbs and establishing new records for intra-group angst. Bruno Boll, Daniel Hamann, and Forrest Murphy made the second complete ascent of the South Buttress (VI 5.10 Al, 1600m) of Tiedemann in five days round-trip. Dan Aylward and Forrest then climbed the long-admired North Rib (IV 5.10, 800m) of Marcus in a day and a half round-trip, while Bruno and Daniel blitzed the neighboring North Face (IV 5.6, 900m) of Merlon in only 17 hours round-trip. Unfortunately, the rock on Merlon was dangerously poor, and this impressive face earned a “Not Recommended.” Later in the trip, numerous climbs on the Upper Tellot Glacier were done, with perhaps the finest being a new line (5.10d, three pitches) by Bruno and Daniel on the superb east face of Dragonback.

Doug Clark and Keith Pankow attempted the South Buttress of Tiedemann a week or so after the above party had made their ascent, reaching the base of the final 13-pitch upper pillar after three days. Here a storm moved in, pinning the two in their bags for a very unpleasant day before they were able to force a retreat. Bad weather is always a factor to consider in the Coast Mountains, even in the finest summer.

Michael Down and Graeme Taylor were on the Upper Tellot Glacier twice during the summer. On the first trip, in August, they climbed the impressive Northwest Buttress (IV 5.9, 500m) of Mt. Shand, which unfortunately finished with a couple of extremely precarious, dangerously loose pitches. This was followed by several other smaller day-climbs, including the pleasant North Face (II, ice to 55°, steeper at the ‘schrund, minor mixed, three 55m pitches) of Dragonback and the excellent Southeast Pillar (II 5.10+, three pitches) of Mt. McCormick. The later trip, in early September, netted the Northeast Face Direct (III 5.9 A2, nine pitches) on the impressive prong of Stiletto Needle.

The redoubtable Fred Beckey revisited the range for the umpteenth time, accompanied by Kai Hirvonen, Lome Glick, and Witt Richardson. The latter three made a very fine new route, climbing the oft-admired, occasionally attempted Southwest Face (V 5.10 A2, nine 60m pitches) of Stiletto Peak in two days. Numerous other shorter routes on the fine granite of the Upper Tellot Glacier peaks followed, including the first free ascent of the south face (II 5.1 la, three pitches) of Tellot Spire.

Don Serl, Canada

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