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North America, Canada, British Columbia, Coast Mountains, Mt. Talchako, Northeast Ridge

Mt. Talchako, Northeast Ridge. In the last week of July, Fred Beckey (2003 Subaru), Drew Brayshaw (Chilliwack, B.C.), James Nakagami (Woodinville, WA), and I (Redmond, WA) flew from Hagensborg, B.C., with Richard Lapointe of West Coast Helicopters, to the northeastern edge of the Monarch Icefield, not far from the Talchako River and Jacobsen Creek.

We made a brilliant camp among small pines and a pond at 5,400' elevation. Across Jacobsen Creek to the south we had the great scenery of Beelzebub and Ratcliff peaks nearby.

The next morning Fred was still recovering from a back injury and was not able to climb, so Drew and I made an 11 -hour roundtrip climb to the eastern of the four summits just north of Talchako Mountain. We then took a rest day.

James, Drew, and I headed out the following morning on the mosquito-inhaling, smoke-ingesting (from a forest fire raging to the east) hike to the bottom of the northeast ridge. This ridge is the most defined feature on the mountain and unmistakable from long distances, and was the obvious objective. We climbed about 16 pitches to a spectacular ledge, where we bivouacked with a view north to the Borealis and Ape peaks, while we had dinner and watched the sun set.

In the morning clouds were gathering. My previous trip’s weather experiences told me to get moving. We did, and climbed a pitch of ice, then another on mixed ground, where we used one piton for safety. Between the two snow arêtes on the ridge, this rock section provided one of the more difficult sections. We reached the eastern summit in the early afternoon. After traversing to the central summit, we took a peek at the register and saw only two previous entries. The most recent was by George Whitmore, a member of first team to scale The Nose on El Cap, noting a climb in 1982 where he claimed “Indian priests hurled nude virgins over the northern precipice to propitiate the rain gods.” If you say so! I can think of better things to do with nude virgins myself. Shortly after we arrived on top, the clouds started to dissipate and provided us with great views to the south. We descended the southwest gully; the peak’s original route, then proceeded east back to our camp after crossing a small canyon with a waterfall.

It appears to me there could be a few more routes still worth doing on this peak for those interested. We rate our 1,000m route TD 5.8 60°.

Ray Borbon, AAC