COAST MOUNTAINS ROUNDUP

Posted on: December 8, 2006


The west face of Arabesque Peak (ca. 3030m), Coast Mountains, British Columbia, Canada, showing One Boot Route (PD: 5.6, five pitches). The previously virgin summit was climbed this summer by Chris Agnew, Ben Lester, Ben Liebeskind, and Gaelen Kelly during a NOLS outing, one of the few innovations in the Waddington Range this summer. [Photo] Ben Lester

Summer 2006 was warm and dry in British Columbia's Coast Mountains, but fewer adventurous parties took advantage of the fine conditions than usual. As always, the Waddington Range was the primary focus. At the tail end of the spring, in mid-May, Simon Richardson and Don Serl spent a sunny week in and around Remote Glacier in the far northwestern corner of the range. They got up a seven-pitch gully/easy mixed route on the east face of Remote Mountain (3038m), but conditions were not conducive to an ascent of nearby Harkness Tower (2907m). Later they abandoned an attempt on the north ridge of Mount Bell (3269m), then flew out as the weather deteriorated.

In July, Benoit Montfort and four other French climbers flew to the Waddington-Combatant col. They quickly managed to establish two new routes on Mt. Combatant (3756m), one of which featured climbing to 5.11c. Details on their new route were unavailable at the time of this writing. Once their objectives had been accomplished, they flew out to continue their holiday with climbing at Squamish and touristing in the Rockies and Selkirks.

Ade Millar and Simeon Warner had a productive visit to the Radiant Glacier in mid-August. After climbing Couplet Towers (ca. 2970m) via the 500-meter east ridge (snow, plus rock to 5.7), they accomplished the first complete ascent of the Buszowski-Kippan (ED1, ice to 60 degrees, 1250m) to the summit of Serra 3 (3642m). They bivvied on the hanging glacier after seventeen pitches the first day, then a second time at the Tellot rim after thirteen pitches the second day. Their return to base camp via the Shand-McCormick col was much more complicated and technical than "guidebook conditions" suggested.

A view from Kese (3059m). The main peak in the center is Mt. Merriam, climbed by Nugent and Rowbotham for the mountain's third ascent via the east ridge. [Photo] Graham Rowbotham

They followed this with a narrow couloir line on Mount Shand (3096m). The Madness of 'King' George (WI3, 250m) lies immediately left of the Shand-McCormick col. Finally, they completed the previously tried 200-meter southwest ridge on Unicorn Mtn (2909m), which required a tension traverse to bypass a blank slab and a shoulder stand to overcome a short, overhanging offwidth.

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The only other innovation in the Waddington Range this summer took place during a NOLS outing. Chris Agnew, Ben Lester, Ben Liebeskind, and Gaelen Kelly climbed One Boot Route (PD) on the longest buttress in the center of the west face of the previously virgin southernmost Arabesque Peak (ca. 3030m). Five short pitches to about 5.6 were encountered, with good rock in the first half and easier, looser terrain above.

Elsewhere in the Coast Mountains, the unusual hot-spot for activity proved to be the seldom-visited west side of Chilko Lake, 80 kilometers southeast of Waddington. A DAV party travelled all the way from Dresden to climb the namesake Mount Dresden (2656m) in celebration of the 800th anniversary of their city's founding. First ascents were made of a couple other summits in the area and names proposed to "round out" commemoration of all the ships involved in the 1914 Battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile. The highest peak in the region, Mount Good Hope (3242m), was also successfully climbed.

Fourteen-year-old Brandon Schupp climbed Mount Good Hope as part of his self-inaugurated campaign to raise money to combat childhood cancer. About $100,000 was raised—good going, Brandon!

Robert Nugent, Graham Rowbotham, and Don Serl base-camped at Glasgow Lakes (1708m), northeast of Good Hope. They climbed Kese (3059m) via the scree and snow of the west face to the upper north ridge, completing via a long traverse across the upper west face to avoid towers high on the ridge. Nugent and Rowbotham went on to climb Good Hope (3242m) via the normal snow-gullies on the 800-meter southeast face and upper south face, and Glasgow (2923m) via the north glacier and aesthetic east ridge. After a move by boat to Farrow Creek, Nugent and Rowbotham succeeded on impressive Mount Merriam (3099m) via its east ridge, still the only route on this great peak. This was perhaps only the third ascent, and the bushiness of the approaches has undoubtedly increased considerably since Malcolm Goddard and Kese made the first ascent as a formidable 16-hour day-trip from Chilko Lake (1175m) in 1911.

Steve Harng, Jesse Mason, and Jordan Peters spent a productive week and a half in August in the Pantheon Range, 25 kilometers north of Waddington. They found superb rock on the short southeast face (PD: 5.7, 100m) on the Cyclops (2752m). The middle buttress on the east face of Fenris (2859m) also offered good rock on an attractive-looking line, Harng and Mason (AD: low-5th, 250m). The outstanding route of the trip, and one of the highlights in the Coast Mountains this summer, was Harng and Mason's thirteen-pitch, thirteen-hour climb of the steep northwest face (TD: 5.9/10 65 degrees, 500m) on Pegasus Peak (2805m). A compact rock ramp was followed for ten pitches, then a chimney was used to gain a snowy exit gully. A bivy was made on the descent of the south face and camp regained the following afternoon.



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