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first ascent [TR] British Columbia - Coquihalla Honey, Clyde & Isabelle 09/30/2016

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Trip: British Columbia - Coquihalla Honey, Clyde & Isabelle

Trip Date: 09/30/2016

Trip Report:


Two new routes on Yak Peak.



Somehow the memory of an obscure Cascade Climbers trip report had eventually soaked into my brain and I realized that Yak Peak in British Columbia might be worth a visit. Google was telling me it was the same drive time as Washington Pass and the internet was telling me that there were oceans of slabs within sight of the road! Despite my general lack of enthusiasm for border crossings I convinced Bill Enger to join me for a look and we dug out our passports, vacuumed the car, and headed for the border.

Once out of the Great Bear Snowshed the highway trends to the east and the huge bulk of the thing almost hovers above the little ribbon of road.  From the rest area we gaped at it with binoculars and spent our Looney’s on espresso and egg wraps from the welcome food truck!  Bill did the bloodhound thing back and forth along the shoulder for half an hour and ultimately sniffed out the start of the west-side access trail.  An hour later we stumbled out of the forest squinting at the sparkling little snowfield and sweeping slabs.



We sat and grinned in the sunshine like an internet date; trying to decide if the pictures matched the reality.  There were no bumps or knobs, no cracks or corners just a sea of low angled granite that gently steepened for a long, long ways!

In July of 2015 I returned with Natalie Merrill.  I was convinced that there were good routes to be done if I could only adjust my thinking enough to see them.  Still, it took three pitches with some wandering before I backed up, removed a few anchors and finally committed myself to the plumbline.  For Natalie it must have been like waiting for a fish to speak latin.  It wasn’t even hard climbing, it was just blank and looked intimidating.  I had made up my mind that we were gonna bolt our way over the roof and hopefully find something I could climb on the uphill side.

Surprise surprise but the “roof” turned out to be 12-feet high and more of a short wall than any kind of real roof.  It looks like a roof from just about anywhere except right under it.  There are four aid bolts and then it’s back to the slabs. Carl, Natalie, Bas, Nick and Zack came up with me in the next month and I managed to establish pitches seven through nine.  The off season is long when it comes to Yak Peak.



In 2016, I was starting my third season of dancing under a maple leaf.  Clyde & Izzy remained one pitch from completion. I got Zack Krupp to help me get the jump on rappel bolting a new line to the right of Clyde’s.

We were underway at last! At the end of the weekend we had three and half pitches in place.  Nick Roy joined me a week later.  This time we climbed Clyde & Izzy for eight pitches and then rapped sideways to find a place for the Honey.  A full pitch above the roofs we started down the big black streak so obvious from below.  Still later Carl Delica and I again rapped from the same height and I got a chance to take a second look at the pitches before we added the final bolts. 




I was almost there; two seasons of travel, gas, partners and money and by mid-august both routes stood one pitch from completion. Late in the season we got it done; Natalie led the existing pitches and I jugged along behind with a big bag of bolts, chains, drills and beverages.

At 3:30 I was racked up and ready to lead the final pitch on Clyde’s. Ten days later we were back. I lead bolted the last pitch on the Honey and it was done!  Thankfully, we got all our gear down before the snow hit. 



             Natalie on Pitch 4, Clyde & Isabelle


Clyde & Isabelle  5.8, A1, 10 pitches, all bolts, 2-ropes required

Coquihalla Honey  5.9, A1, 8 pitches, all bolts w/optional 1” & 1.5”, 2-ropes required

Gear Notes:
All protection is fixed on both routes, 11 draws, 2x60m ropes.

Approach Notes:
west side approach trail

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That's a lot of work!  You're getting downright cosmopolitan David, taking this slab dancing international and out of the mossy Darrington shadows.  Thanks, I will need to check these routes out.

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Awesome!  I'd go climb them tomorrow if they weren't white. 

The A1 ratings might discourage a few novices but actually sound pretty mellow.  Probably don't even need aiders? 

Edited by curtveld

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This is Natalie leading the aid bit. Its just 4 bolts but vertical.  If you know how to aid you could do it with some slings and draws.  Ive had several people lead it that had never aided anything before and I set them up with real aiders and a fifi hook.  They all thought it was fun!  I made a little pair of 3-step aiders tied out of 1/2" webbing that will stuff in my pocket.  If you Google "Great Bear Snowshed"  the highway cam points right at Yak Peak.  Gimme a shout when ya wanna go!

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Wow! I was there years ago with Mr. Beckey. I'm tired of the WA Pass drive, and with all these good anchors think I'm past due for a return trip. Thanks for the gifts DavidW.

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