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[TR] Waddington - Bravo Glacier to SE Chimney w/ Right Flank 07/24/2018

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Trip: Waddington - Bravo Glacier to SE Chimney w/ Right Flank

Trip Date: 07/24/2018

Trip Report:

Fern, Vance and I climbed the standard route (& official Beckey Favorite) over the July 24 to 29 interval. We drove up on July 24th and spent the night camped at the end of the Whitesaddle airstrip at Bluff Lake.

On July 25th we got an early morning flight to Rainy Knob. Conditions were ideal. We built a basecamp, stashed unneeded gear, ate, and spent the afternoon reading and kibitzing. We got an early night, got up at 11 PM, and started the climb, carrying three-day packs.

Negotiating the Bravo Glacier at night required some intuition as well as info gleaned from a quick overflight while coming in to Rainy the day before. We got around most crevasses. One near the base of the east spur of Bravo Peak required some extensive overhead shovelling at its lowest point , on a mound of recent debris, by Vance to turn it from a slushy overhang to a more solid vertical wall.  We hauled the packs on that one and got on top just at sunrise. Several hundred meters higher, we had to make a long horizontal traverse across a 65-70 degree shelf above another crevasse, where the lip had sheared off, to reach the upper snowfield. Easy scrambling and a snowslog got us to Bravo Col by about 9 AM. The snow had started to turn from firm to breakable crust by then, so after some crawling and knee-walking, we gave up, dug a snow hole, and spent a few hours napping and watching jet fighters do loop-de-loops up and down the Tiedemann and thru Combatant Col. Zoom, zoom. The sound of freedom! Around 4 PM we figured the crust was all gone, so we roped up once more and slogged through the slop to Spearman Saddle, where we set up ABC.

The next day the alarm went off at 1:30 and we left camp by 3:15, not wanting to start the rock climbing in the dark. We had firm snow up to the base of the Tooth and found a traverse across the lip of a randkluft to get onto the actual Tooth traverse ledges at a prominent brown slabby scar. There wasn't much snow on the ledges, just lots of loose rock, so we pitched it out to the notch, and to the base of the actual SE chimneys.

The actual chimneys had lots of loose rock and a little wet slush masquerading as ice pitches under the chockstones. We chose to take the Right Flank variation (169B in Don's guide) which provided mostly solid rock climbing with two avoidable rime gargoyle remnants to add spice. Two pitches of the Right Variation (which felt like 5.8 to me btw, but then again, we were climbing in boots and crampons, but mostly with bare hands) led to one more long easy pitch up the scree- and snow slope above the Chimneys and a 2 PM summit.

There was a Seattle/Colorado party on the NW summit at the same time, which was entertaining because they gave a sense of scale to our photos. We hung out on top for almost an hour (complete with a horsefly - where do these things come from?) before heading down.

The first rap was 60 m to the top of the Chimney. We made another 60 to below the first chockstone but managed to get the knot stuck. Vance tiblocked up the stuck rope, unstuck it, and made two shorter raps - 30 m to above the second chockstone and then 30 m back to us. We elected to continue back down the Tooth ledges rather than the Harvard Notch line because it was so dry that there was substantial loose rock visible down that route and you rap in the fall line there whereas rapping and downclimbing the ledges traverses, giving one some protection. We made a couple 30 m raps here, then tried a 60, hoping it would reach the snow, but it didn't and the rope got stuck again, this time just due to slab friction near the anchor. Fern freed it up, and we made one more 60 m over the schrund and were down on the snow by sunset.  We got back to ABC around 11 PM, for around a 20 hour day.

The next day we lazed until 3 pm and then set off down the Bravo. We rapped twice (from rock anchors) on the Cauldron headwall to avoid the serac-lip traverse, and once more at the overhanging serac, where we used a bollard plus picket to take a 30 m rap/cimb/rap shortcut through two overhanging crevasse walls and an intervening tottering ice fin. We got back to Rainy Knob basecamp at sunset.

There is a ferocious snafflehound at Rainy Knob. She tried to eat my socks but I'd worn them for three days straight in my boots and they stank so bad she not only gave up, but left our Mountain House dinners alone too!

On Sunday, we got a morning pickup by Mike King and were back in Bluff Lake by 9 and back in the Lower Mainland by dinnertime.

Gear Notes:
Three pickets, crampons (dual horizontal front points worked best), two tools each, nuts and cams to 3" (doubles 1" and 2"), six tricams, six pins. Many slings and webbing. Left pins, nuts, tricams and slings behind on the descent. Took four screws and didn't use them. Superlight 3-person tent for advanced base camp. Two stoves (one canister, one white gas). Double 60s. Four or five light jacket layers, softshell bibs. Temps varied from below freezing at night to 25C in the day.

Approach Notes:
Save yourself the extra two weeks of walking in and out and fly Whitesaddle. Vance had previously kayaked and skied from Vancouver to the NW summit so he had a fair comparison of means. He says the helicopter is much faster.
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Sweet and sloppy. 

"...complete with a horsefly - where do these things come from?" - I'm sure it was thinking the same about you.


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Nice! Looks like you hit the conditions well; glacier passable and rock not too iced up!

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congrats you guys; looks awesome!  I've been staying off cc.com since rotator cuff surgery has me sidelined 'n sedentary until ski season and hanging out here is just a little bit a bummer right now, but Ken told me about this report so I had to check it out.  Killer.

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