North America, Canada, Coast Mountains, Coast Mountains, Remote Areas Summary

Publication Year: 2006.

Coast Mountains, remote areas summary. Craig McGee, Sean Easton, and Eamonn Walsh spent time on the south side of Waddington late in July. Their major accomplishment was an outstanding new ice route (Uber Groove, 600m, ED1 ice to 90°) well left of the Haberl-Reid. The line is under the Epaulet Glacier, but the seracs, while vertical, looked stable, and there was no debris below, so the climbers were “somewhat at ease.” They climbed nine 60m pitches of water ice, the first being the crux at WI5X, then consistent WI5 and WI4, easing to WI3, and a 5.9+ pitch to the serac bands (they skirted right under the seracs). Craig reports that Eamonn and Sean (ice gods, for sure) called it their best pure water ice climb ever.

The crew then got about 80% of the way up the rock headwall on the prominent south buttress of the Northwest Summit, but some looseness, lack of compelling climbing features, cold, and finally a developing snowstorm put an end to the attempt.

The threesome then flipped over to the Tiedemann, where they made the coveted (and oft attempted) first ascent of the Grand Cappuccino, via the southwest buttress (Morgenlatte, 450m, ED 15.11). The first four pitches were 5.8, then the buttress steepened, and the next six pitches finished with a 5.11 crux on the final pitch. Craig says “Great line, awesome position and climbing.”

Jia Condon and Jon Walsh got scooped on the Cappuccino, but did a 200m direct variation on the South Ridge of Serra 2, climbing directly up the crest from the Phantom Tower col. This gave six or seven pitches to 5.10. The upper section of the crest had been rappelled, then reclimbed, on an abortive Grand Cap attempt by Janez Ales and Graham Rowbotham in 2003.

Condon and Walsh then went onto the South Buttress of Tiedemann with no bivy gear, starting at 2 a.m., intent on a speed ascent. They had a “sit” above the second tower the next night for four hours, having freed all the climbing to that point (FFA? 5.10+/11-). They then finished via a major new variation, up the snow/ice/mixed gully left of the upper Direct South Buttress. They topped out about 30 hours after starting and got the majority of the long complicated descent done, down through the Chaos Glacier cirque, then up and over Combatant to the Waddington-Combatant col, before getting stymied by isothermal snow and impassable crevasses on the final slope down into the Tiedemann Glacier. Late in the day, with the weather breaking down a day earlier than forecast, they plugged back up to the col and over to the west shoulder of Hickson, from which Mike King was able to chopper them out. The boys were lucky: the following two and a half days saw six feet of snow dumped on an American Alpine Institute party high on Waddington! Woulda been mighty unpleasant to bivy.

Simon Richardson returned from Aberdeen for another Coast Mountains adventure, this year with Mark Robson, and they climbed a new route on Mt. Zeus in the Pantheon Range (25km north of Waddington). See report below.

Steve Harng, Jordan Peters, and Ben Stanton spent a week climbing among the peaks at the head of Sunrise Glacier in the northeastern Waddington Range. They made several smallish ascents, but their “class” outing was the eight-pitch South Buttress on Isolation Peak #2 (250m D 5.9). This was reported as “beautiful and obvious… a fantastic climb.”

Sergio Aragon, David Rangel, Peter Renz, and Mickey Schurr spent a week doing Waddington Range “light classics” out of a camp at Cataract Col. Of note, they climbed a prominent tower on the eastern rim of the Mt. Shand horseshoe, above and northwest of the Four Horsemen. This they named “Knudson Knob” to commemorate David Knudson, the prolific and long-time Coast Range mountaineer, who died in Seattle on July 22. Dave’s first trip into these mountains was organized by the legendary Joe and Joan Firey, into Combatant Col in 1972. Until failing health curtailed his activity in the last few years, many other outings followed, often into little-explored far-flung corners where intriguing discoveries and first ascents lurked; there are 25 attributions including Mr. Knudson out of 444 numbered routes in The Waddington Guide, for instance. The high-quality photographs that he brought back, and enthusiastically shared with all who asked, will remain an important legacy.

Chris Barner, Paul Rydeen, and friends returned to the steep peaks near Doran Creek, climbing numerous summits, around 2,600m high, surrounding the head of the first major south-side feeder drainage. A few summits sported ancient John Clarke registers; some were likely virgin. Later the crew moved north to the Reliance area, again making numerous ascents. The best of these was the Southeast Ridge (550m, D 5.9 A1 or 5.10+) on Determination. This fine route required a few aid points on a 5.9 pitch low down, climbed with mandatory boots and full alpine gear in the packs, as there is snow on the upper sections.

Bruce Fairley and Harold Redekop knocked off the big, steep, imposing, and long- ignored East Face (750m, D+ 5.8) on the superb Mt. Queen Bess. Snow and ice for 350m led to 10 pitches of rock, mostly mid-5th to 5.6, with three pitches of 5.8. They climbed the face in a day, bivouacking during the rappels, which they did via the route of ascent.

Andrew Rennie and I flew to Bifrost Pass on the northern fringe of the Waddington Range and climbed new routes on all three of the surrounding 2,800m+ peaks. The West Ridge (400m, AD 5.10) of Delusion mostly consisted of scrambling on nice, featured, solid rock, with three belayed pitches on the obvious steps, at 5.8 and 5.9, with a finishing 10m steep right-facing 5.9 corner leading to a short, harder bulge. The prominent southeast buttress on the east tower of Frontier proved to be an attractive line (Miles from Ordinary, 300m, D 5.10+). About 150m of scrambling was followed by seven or eight roped pitches, with a fair amount of 5.8, a few 20m stretches of easy ground, a couple of 5.9 sections, and one full-on, pull-like-hell, left-leaning crux crack past a bulge. The looming headwall went surprisingly easily, despite appearances, with good 5.9 face-climbing low down, then a left-angling crack system through solid rock to the flats beneath the previously unclimbed 2,800m+ subsummit. A severe two- and-a-half-day storm interrupted proceedings, after which we attempted one of the fine 250m pillars on the west side of Cornelia. Various difficulties quickly brought the attempt to an end, but we reached the summit by a west-facing snow/ice gully and the upper north ridge (250m, AD+ mid-5th). We passed over the northern subsidiary summit (ca. 2,900m; also previously unclimbed) en route.

Don Serl, Alpine Club of Canada, AAC