American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Coast Mountains, Remote Areas Summary

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

Coast Mountains, remote areas summary. The year 2002 was one of remarkable activity in the Coast Mountains, both in southwest British Columbia near Vancouver and in remoter areas. Most new-route activity in the “greater” Coast Mountains, as always, took place in the Waddington Range.

April and May were very fine, and a large number of parties enjoyed long stretches of settled weather, allowing several extreme ski descents and some outstanding climbing. Craig McGee and Brad White made two ascents involving significant new climbing, though both climbs took off from existing routes. On the southwest face of Waddington they climbed the initial notch-couloir section of the Wiessner-House route, then from low on the ramp climbed directly up the south buttress toward the summit, following a distinct chimney for many pitches of 5.9 to 5.10a on good rock. An offwidth led to a notch, where they spent a very cold night, which dictated retreat in the morning. But first they climbed steep ice and rock leading diagonally up to the traverse section high on the Wiessner-House. From there, only a few pitches beneath the summit, they rappelled to the triangular snowfield and on down into the lower reaches of Meteor Gully. They climbed eleven or twelve new 70m pitches above the ramp.

Later, McGee and White climbed the South Buttress route on Tiedemann Tower. Where the ramp on the South Face breaks left, the pair continued directly up the crest with 13 new pitches, most in the 5.9-to-easy-5.10 range, to gain the summit.

As well as climbing, McGee and White also made outstanding ski descents. The North Face Couloir on Hickson was the biggest, but they also skied the Gerbolet Couloir on Shand,the previously unclimbed couloir dropping into the Radiant from the Argewicz-Tellot Spire col (the BMC Couloir), and another couloir (Gin and Juice) on the lower left portion of the west face of Argewicz.

Also in May, Johnny Franko, Martina Holan, and Trevor Hunt climbed the glacier and the 350m couloir tucked just east of the rib halfway between the Splendour Glacier and Whymper Dome. They reached the crest of Splendour Spur, then skied the line back to the Tiedemann Glacier. Franko and Hunt also climbed, then skied, the prominent, slanting snow couloir on the right (northeastern) face of Bravo Spur, one km up-glacier from Rainy Knob at the eastern base of Waddington.

Surprisingly, fewer parties enjoyed the Range in summer than in spring. However, in late July Chris Atkinson and Kevin McLane, Jia Condon and Guy Edwards, and Andrew Boyd and Matt Maddaloni had productive stays on Combatant Col and the Upper Tellot Glacier. On Combatant, Skywalk was climbed twice; Condon and Edwards added a two-pitch 5.8 variation to the left at the big roof at one-third height. Skywalk was confirmed as a superb, challenging climb and reckoned to be considerably more demanding than the Beckey-Chouinard route on the South Howser Tower in the Bugaboos, with few ledges, continuous difficulties, and tricky routefinding. Kshatrya was also repeated, and its high quality also confirmed. Atkinson and McLane attempted the Hidden Rib of the Northwest Peak of Combatant, left of the Great Couloir, but bailed from about two-thirds height. Boyd and Maddaloni climbed most of the Incisor (the initial tower on Belligerence) via a line on its south face between Belligerence and Day Trip, but retreated before reaching the top of the tower. They rated what they climbed 5.11 A3.

On Mt. Tiedemann, Condon and Edwards established Southwest Bartizans on the rib left of the initial couloir on the Southwest Face route, finding only moderately difficult climbing (5.9) and considerable loose rock. Above the initial 700m rib, they joined the earlier Collum-Gerson line to reach the summit. They regained base camp in Combatant Col by descending Tiedemann’s North Arête and passing back across Combatant via its Northeast Face. Only two days were consumed in the round trip.

On the Upper Tellot, Condon, Edwards, and Maddaloni put up a two-pitch 5.11 direct finish on the southwest face of Stiletto Needle, around the corner right of the west face. The climb started from the traverse on the Spiral Route.

A nine-person Alpine Club of Canada party spent a productive, if low-key, week on Remote Glacier in mid-July. Luca Beilin, Will Silva, Bruce Fairley, Helen Habgood, Jackie Snodgrass, and Harold Redekop rambled up the easy west ridge of the possibly previously unclimbed Peak 2,750m (a.k.a. Teva Ridge), which lies two km north of Mt. Bell. The east ridge of Angina was attempted but found to be unpleasantly loose. Doug Berner and Robert Nugent climbed Broad Peak, varying the Southwest Face route by climbing directly up the center of the south face for the final 200m. Silva and Habgood climbed Peak 2,880m (Toto) next to Dorothy via the easy snow of the West Face. This makes a nice outing when combined with an ascent of Dorothy. Berner and Nugent climbed the fine East Ridge of Trylon (4 pitches, 5.7), making a long approach over the col west of Dorothy to reach a short, easy gully from the glacier south of the peak. Overly warm weather prevented climbs of Bell, but six party members later climbed the Dogleg Couloir on Geddes, the other “big” peak west of Scimitar Glacier.

Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Peter Croft, and Brady Robinson spent a fine week and a half on Combatant Col in mid-August. Skywalk and Kshatrya received several ascents, and again the high quality of both routes was confirmed. Anker and Croft made a variant start on Skywalk,continuing up the approach gully 20m beyond the original chimney to reach and climb a less-icy crack system (2 long pitches, 5.9) which joins the original route at the end of the fourth pitch. Anker and Chin climbed an alternative start to Kshatrya well to the left of the original line (5 pitches, 5.10). Anker and Croft climbed six new pitches (5.10a) on the left side of the toe of the Middle Buttress, right of Hotel of Lost Companions. A new finishing crack (5.12) through a roof led to the top a huge El Cap-style tower, from which they rappelled. Brady Robinson worked solo on an aid line in an area of black water streaks right of Solo Blue, but did not complete the route.

While the Waddington Range attracted the majority of the traffic, several noteworthy climbs were accomplished elsewhere in the Coast Mountains. Fred Beckey and friends made a trip to the Monarch Icefield, 80 km northwest of Waddington. Matt Perkins and Jim Ruch climbed the attractive Northeast Arête on Cerberus. Chris Kettles and Ptor Spricenieks climbed the west face of Mt. Monarch, following more or less the line of the two previous ascents, then skied this impressive face.

In May, Drew Brayshaw, Gord Betenia, and Don Serl visited the easily accessible Niut Range, 50 km northeast of Waddington, camping in the valley southwest of Blackhorn Mountain. The superbly attractive Mt. Nicholson (five km south of Blackhorn) was climbed via a northwest face approach and the previously climbed west ridge. (Nicholson’s northeast ridge was later attempted, by Phil Fortier and Gambrelli Layco.) Peak 9,580' (two km south of Blackhorn) was climbed via superb snow on the west face that led to the northwest ridge. Brayshaw soloed the 4th class north ridge of Peak 8,500', three km southwest of camp, descending the east ridge and northeast face. Unsuccessful attempts were made on the east and northeast faces of Quartz Peak, five km west of camp, and on nearby couloirs.

The perennial Fred Beckey visited the Niut Range in August with Ray Borbon, climbing the northeast ridge of the east peak of Rusty.

Simon Richardson made his third trip from Aberdeen to British Columbia, this time visiting Mt. Gilbert, the remotest of the Coast Range’s 3,000m peaks, 100 km southeast of Waddington. With Chris Cartwright he climbed the magnificent West Pillar, finding about 20 pitches of fine, steep granite (5.10).

Ade Miller and Forrest Murphy joined Don Serl for a long weekend dash into the Falls River Valley, 120 km east of Waddington, during fine Indian summer weather in late September. The resulting Passport Couloir on the north face of Mt. Winstone (10 pitches, 1.5 of which were as steep 90°) was only made possible by unusually “placid” serac conditions at the top of the route.

Don Serl, Alpine Club of Canada

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