In mid-August 2012, I had an opportunity for a free helicopter ride into the Waddington Range with landscape photographer Scott Pick and his wife, Marina. We flew from Bluff Lake to the Plummer Hut on the evening of August 11, and I departed at 8 a.m. the next morning for the Tiedemann Glacier. It took most of the 12th to climb up to the Waddington-Combatant col, where I bivouacked. The Tiedemann Glacier icefall was much more broken-up than it appears from below, and the objective hazard was significant.
On August 13, I soloed the north face of Mt. Waddington via the Flavelle-Lane route (TD+, 75°), and headed toward Mt. Waddington’s main summit in deteriorating weather. I soloed the summit tower via the standard route (M4) in a storm of freezing rain, and then had an epic descent back to the Waddington-Combatant Col in the sleet storm. The Flavelle-Lane had been soloed once before, by German climber Frank Jourdan, but he made it only to the northwest summit. I believe my ascent was the first solo ascent of Mt. Waddington. On August 14, I soloed the northwest summit and then the main summit of Mt. Combatant. From here I descended for a third bivouac at the Chaos Col (Combatant-Tiedemann col). On August 15, I soloed Mt. Tiedemann via the west face and Mt. Asperity via the west ridge, and made a fourth bivouac at the Asperity-Serra 5 Col. On August 16, I briefly considered attempting Serra 5, but realized I was too psychologically drained, and instead descended to the Tiedemann Glacier via Carl’s Couloir.
Frank Jourdan had also done some solo climbing on both Mt. Combatant and Mt. Tiedemann in 2004, but it turns out he didn’t reach either summit. So, in addition to Mt. Waddington, I believe I made the first solo ascents of Mt. Combatant, Mt. Tiedemann, and Mt. Asperity.
Colin Haley, AAC, Seattle