Prominent Routes Established in Coast Range

Posted on: November 17, 2009


Defiance (ED2: 5.12 A3, 1450m), a new route by Joshua Lavigne and Craig McGee, ascends the Incisor on the lower portion Mt. Combatant and continues via the Jawbone and then the Toothless tower to the summit (3756m). The route was one of the Coast Range's finest new climbs this summer. [Photo] Joshua Lavigne

An experienced Canadian team and a group of young Americans added significant new routes to British Columbia's Coast Range this summer.

At the end of August, Canadians Joshua Lavigne, Craig McGee, Scott Everett and Carlyle Norman flew into the range and set up base camp on the Sunny Knob outcrop located on the south side of the upper Tiedemann Glacier. As a warm up, they climbed Skywalk Buttress (ED1: 5.9, 600m) then split into two teams. Lavigne and McGee were successful on a new route, Defiance (ED2: 5.12 A3, 1450m) on the relatively popular Mt. Combatant (3756m) via the Incisor. Meanwhile, Everett and Norman had planned a 1500-meter traverse from the Gnat's Tooth to Serra One, but retreated when warm temperatures caused significant rockfall on the upper mixed pitches.

Mt. Combatant has routes on all its major buttresses and is one of the area's gems, said Alpinist correspondent Don Serl: "It may be the finest of the peaks in the Waddington Range."

Lavigne and McGee began climbing on August 28. That day they completed the first seven pitches of the Incisor, sharing some terrain with the route Belligerence and finding "steep, technical climbing," Lavigne said, "including multiple 5.11 pitches that were loose and run out, and a crux pitch of intricate, thin crack climbing." They fixed their two ropes that afternoon and left their gear at the base of the wall. Two days later they returned and continued free climbing—save for one 20-meter section of A3, the route's only aid—to just below the summit of Incisor, 15 pitches up. The next day, September 1, they found eight pitches of rock along the Jawbone that was "loose and dangerous and at times completely terrifying," Lavigne said. This took them to the base of Toothless Tower, where they found excellent rock that led them to the summit of Combatant.

McGee sends the 5.12 free climbing crux on Defiance. He added two pins to protect the thin seam above. [Photo] Joshua Lavigne

On July 20, Mike Pond, Matt Van Biene, Brianna Hartzell and Eric Dalzell were dropped by helicopter just south of Mt. Desire (2606m), where the four established base camp. Supported by an AAC McNeill-Nott Award and a Mountain Fellowship grant, the team planned to climb Desire's east ridge, a moderate but unclimbed and immense swath of stepped rock and snow. The team scouted their entry point to the ridge that same afternoon and decided to try the route the next day, in a push.

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Scrambling brought the two rope teams to fantastic knife-edge rock and snow climbing with wild exposure. Rappels into a notch led to the base of a chossy headwall; Hartzell and Dalzell descended from this point while Pond and Van Biene continued on 5.8 terrain to the summit. The summit team returned to camp via the west to a col, where they rappelled to the 'schrund.

The team spent three more days in the area. During that time, Pond and Van Biene climbed two more new routes on nearby summits: Menergy Ridge (III 5.8) on a peak they named the Gail Needle and Wanderlust Traverse (5.10, 3 pitches) on Wanderlust Peak, which they also named.

Sources: Joshua Lavigne, Don Serl, americanalpineclub.org, briannabananarama.blogspot.com, mattvb.blogspot.com

The east ridge of Mt. Desire (2606m), Coast Range, British Columbia, in winter. Mike Pond and Matt Van Biene summited the peak after climbing the moderate ridge in a push in July. [Photo] John Scurlock



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