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AlpineK

[TR] Combatant Col- Mt Combatant via Kashtrya and Skywalk 7/23/2004

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Climb: Combatant Col-Mt Combatant via Kashtrya and Skywalk

 

Date of Climb: 7/23/2004

 

Trip Report:

Short Version

 

CJZ and I climbed Kashtrya and Skywalk from Combatant Col. We tried Waddington but got into an argument. The weather got bad and we had to descend to Sunny Knob from the col so we could get a helicopter pickup before we ran out of fuel and food.

 

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_017.jpg

flying in

 

Long Version

 

CrazyJZ and I thought it would be fun to take a trip to the Waddington area this summer. CJZ was excited about climbing out of Combatant Col, and after I took a look at the guide I thought the col would be a good place for a climbing trip. Being fairly slack on planning, I didn’t bother to call Mike at Whitesaddle until a week before our trip. When I called he told me that if we wanted to fly in we needed to show up on Friday instead of Saturday due to his booked schedule. I talked it over with CJZ and then I cranked out a bunch of long work days. In the end I got most everything I needed to do done, and we headed north on Thursday evening.

 

We got to Bluff Lake on Friday afternoon and decided to have diner at Julie King’s place. About ¾ of the way through our meal we got a call from Mike to get over to the airfield and get onboard the helicopter. We ran out the door and changed into our cold weather gear as fast as we could then hopped in the helicopter and we were off. The flight in was great, and we landed near sunset at Combatant Col under perfect conditions. A party had been up there the week before and had 90 mph winds shred there tent. They had abandoned a bunch of stuff, so obviously the first thing we did at the col was to pillage and hi-grade there stuff. After that we set up our tents and went to bed.

 

110Mark_s_Waddington_pictures_035.jpg

Alpinglow on Waddington

 

Edit?

CJZ higrading

 

The next day RobertM and a friend flew in with Mike in the morning. We sent out a load of garbage from the previous party and then spent the day digging fortifications for our tents and trying to adapt to 10,000’. In the evening I was in my tent when I heard the heli land yet again. I didn’t bother to get out of my tent until I heard Ade’s voice. We were both surprised to see each other and also surprised at the little city that the col was turning into.

 

The next day CJZ was still feeling the effects of altitude, so we blew off climbing and did some reconnaissance hiking to figure out descents off of the various peaks. The next day the wind was blowing fairly well and so we decided to not climb. I was starting to get restless and bummed that we had blown one good day of climbing. We spent the day reading and avoiding the wind. Finally on the following day we got up early and went climbing.

 

Kashtrya

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_020.jpg

Combatant; Kashtrya is the righthand butress

 

The first route we did was on the SW buttress of Combatant. The route is about 5.8 at the hardest and it’s fairly broken so that there’s not too much sustained climbing; on the other hand the route goes directly to the summit. The night before we left the smoke from forest fires was so thick that we could barely see the bergschrund; fortunately the smoke eased off the next day so we had decent views.

 

The route starts at the schrund. CJZ’s snow skills leave something lacking, so I was surprised to see him lead the way over the schrund. Past that we climbed an easy ice face to a boulder field and then back to ice. I put on crampons at the next section of ice and after scaring himself CJZ did likewise. We climbed around the base of the rock buttress and then up a bit to a point where it seemed like the route started. CJZ took the first lead up a set of cracks to the ridge crest. The route continues up the crest with mixed and scenic climbing; CJZ ended up with all the 5.8 climbing. We reached the summit about 1 PM and ate lunch.

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_025.jpg

CJZ climbing on Kashtrya

 

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_029.jpg

Looking down at the col and camp

 

Instead of descending the route we chose to do a traverse and descend the N-NW ridge. From the summit we did running belays down the low fifth class ridge and the put crampons on for the final descent into the notch between the NW summit and the main. At the saddle we climbed up some 45 degree ice to the NW summit. Some down climbing and one rappel brought us to the top of a 2000’ 45 degree ice face. We ended up downclimbing the ice doing running belays with rock gear. The ice had been baking in the sun and it had a texture like large rock salt; the going wasn’t hard, but it was tedious. Eventually we got down to the slushy snow of the glacier. CJZ only broke through a couple crevasses on the way down to camp which we got to about 9 PM.

 

The next day we hung out and watched Ade and his partner climb Skywalk while two guys who hiked up from Sunny Knob climbed the Flavelle-Lane route on the north face of Waddington. RobertM and his partner didn’t like plunge stepping on the Angel glacier, so they came back to camp and called for a helicopter out. After another day of rest we were ready for another climb.

 

Skywalk

.110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_019.jpg

Skywalk buttress

 

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_003.jpg

The base of the buttress

 

 

The obviously most impressive feature on Mt. Combatant is the SW buttress of a subsummit of the mountain. The route is at least 5.7 with a number of 8s and 9s. The start of a route is in an icy gully. Once you’re a couple pitches over the schrund you turn to the left and climb a chimney system onto the buttress. CJZ led the first chimney pitch, which was an ice coated mess, but after that the route settled into some fine alpine rock climbing. I lead up on the buttress, and then simul climbed a ramp system that avoids a set of overhangs. Past that there is a beautiful dihedral laced with cracks that leads back to the buttress; from there on out you stay near the prow of the buttress. We climbed to a cool rock tower with a huge ledge on it. After a couple more leads we were on the summit. As with the previous route the party wasn’t over on the summit; we rappelled into an icy couloir and kept rapping. I don’t remember the total number of raps we did, but it got dark and we put on headlamps and kept rapping. Eventually around 2 AM we rapped over the schrund and hiked back to camp. We didn’t do anything for a couple days after that.

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_014.jpg

Climbing towards the summit

 

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_034.jpg

CJZ coming down from the summit

 

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_037.jpg

Freeing the stuck ropes

 

 

Waddington

 

We hung out at camp in perfect weather and decided that the next thing on the hit list was Waddington. Ade and his partner after a lot of talk decided to head out, so they called for a heli and Mike showed up in the late afternoon. After they left we were alone at the col. We decided to try Waddington in 2 days, so we got up early packed up and headed out. The weather was beautiful as we hike over to the western edge of the col. We rounded the corner and headed up towards the broken icefall of the Angle glacier. I was amped and trying to move as quickly as possible through the dangerous area of the glacier, however CJZ took a different view of the icefall. All of a sudden he decided that he didn’t want to continue. Our divergent views soon landed us in a yelling match in the early morning light. After a while when we calmed down it became obvious to me that I would have to climb the mountain by myself. I wasn’t prepared for that, so we hiked back to camp. I got on the radio and called Mike for a ride out. When I got through to him He told me that due to the fires we couldn’t get a pick up flight till Wednesday (it was Monday). We stopped packing and went to separate sides of the camp and fumed about each other. Eventually I noticed a small stream of clouds coming off the summit of Waddington on the otherwise perfect day. The small stream of clouds got bigger and bigger as time went on and by late afternoon it was raining and then snowing at the col with gusty winds.

 

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_001.jpg

Waddington

 

Escape

 

The storm kept up the next day but when we talked to Whitesaddle they still thought they could get us on Wednesday, but when Wednesday rolled around the weather was still really nasty. We had run through all of our reading material on Tuesday and so we spent Wednesday in as close to a vegetative state as we could. In the afternoon on Wednesday I got in touch with Whitesaddle and got the new forecast which was for crappy weather continuing through Friday and then improving on Saturday. After some talk we figured we would run out of fuel on or before Saturday and our food wouldn’t last more than a couple days past that. With no proof that the weather would really be better on Saturday we decided we needed to abandon the col for some more helicopter friendly place.

 

Early the next morning we packed up. We decided to try and head to Sunny Knob as we new there were people there so if worst came to worst we could beg for fuel and food. When we started packing the clouds were above us, but as we packed the clouds dropped down causing a white out. We managed to get all our gear down to 2 large packs and a haul bag that I drug behind me. Unfortunately we had to leave all the crap that the folks who had been blown out left and some of our garbage. We got lost just trying to find the rocky point that separates the left from the right fork of the Tiedemann glacier at the col. After some backtracking we got to the top of the left hand fork, but all signs of foot tracks through the icefall were under snow. After looking around for a while we chose to descend this ice face next to some of the seracs on the glacier; I downclimbed and set screws. The hard part was dealing with the haul bag. I ended up tying a spare rope to the pig and kicking it off. The pig would slide down for a ways and then I would climb down to it and kick it off again. We eventually got to a point where we set a rap and ended up in a moat on the edge of the glacier. CJZ had a really hard time rapping as his pack kept flipping him upside down; this was tough to watch as I was hanging out in an area with lots of freshly avalanched chunks of ice.

 

From the moat I found a ledge which led to the smooth central part of the glacier. We hike down for a ways staying near the side of Mt. Tiedemann until we reached some crevasse that we couldn’t cross. This forced us to hike back uphill and traverse to the far side of the glacier where we found a route that was only blocked by a 20’ deep crevasse. I rapped into the crevasse and climbed out the other side, and then we ferried packs over the gap; passed that a little weaving through crevasses brought us out of the icefall.

 

110Kurt_s_Waddington_pictures_040.jpg

Looking back at Combatant Col. We descended the righthand side of the glacier

 

From there it was just a matter of hiking and dragging the pig. We got down to a point about ¼ of a mile from Sunny knob and set up camp. I got on the radio and Mike told us he could pick us up the next afternoon. We woke up late and while CJZ was boiling water I saw the Whitesaddle helicopter. The pilot radioed us and asked if we were ready to go. I ask for 15 minutes and we ripped down the tent shoved everything into bags and crammed everything into the helicopter. From there it was just a twenty minute flight back to the land of plenty.

 

110Mark_s_Waddington_pictures_056.jpg

AK setting up camp after the descent to the lower Tiedemann

 

Gear Notes:

We had a fairly standard rack of rock gear, ice screws, a couple pickets and some pins

 

Approach Notes:

The col is a bad place to get stuck. Helicoptor flights out are impossible when the weather is bad. I recommend packing light and having an escape plan.

Edited by Feck

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I'd recommend doing it if you're up at the col.

 

Too bad we had to rush off from Lauri's place for the helicopter. It sounds like you guys had a fun trip.

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sounds rad kurt and mark! way to send some beeaautiful cracks.... did you brush the chalk off the holds for future party's?

rockband.gifhahaha.gif

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"clouds of smoke" hahaha.gif

 

too bad you didn't get wadd but the fecks conquered that bump eons ago right?

Edited by Dru

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good trip, guys - a couple very fine routes done in good style and decent times, and (despite the conflict re: the seracs on the firey route), a relatively controlled recovery when the weather unloaded on you. a couple other parties in the range this summer have had MUCH worse times in the col and at fury gap, with destroyed camps and waning food and fuel supplies. people who have not suffered through several days of unremitting coastal storm will continue to underestimate the "exposure" of being at 3000m in the waddington range - there ain't no help possible, and just because it isn't as high and cold as alaska or the yukon doesn't mean it's gonna be easy to escape if you have to. down on the tiedemann (at rainy knob or sunny knob) or in the radiant, mike can get in and out in most weather, but this is NOT the case in locations that parties more and more frequently want to base themselves at: the col, the upper tellot, fury gap, high on the dais...

 

even the hut requires good weather for heli-transport.

 

to re-iterate, the lessons of experience are that:

 

1. if you're basecamping high, have extra fuel available and at least minimal extra food for 2 or 3 days - and be patient; the weather comes and goes at its own pace, and the helicopter can't land at 3000m when conditions aren't stable. as AlpineK points out: "The col is a bad place to get stuck. Helicoptor flights out are impossible when the weather is bad. I recommend packing light and having an escape plan."

DEAD ON!

 

2. if you're climbing a big route, you need to balance the desire to travel light with the potential need for clothing and shelter to endure a storm. don't scrimp on fuel, but extra food is optional. move fast. getting caught out in a big multi-day storm would be mighty unpleasant. 2 parties have been stormed-in on the summit ridge of teidemann after 2 or 3 day ascents of the S buttress and been lucky enough to be able to get down after only one bad-weather day, but i've endured 4 to 8 day stretches of bad weather in july and in august in which descents off big routes would be life or death situations. you need to be clothed, fueled, and - most important - mentally prepared for tough situations before setting off.

 

as guy davis so eloquently put it in the 1990 CAJ, "this ain't the cascades, jack!" i'm glad to see so much climbing going on in the range this summer, and i'm happy to see most people, most of the time, coping with "the demands" with calm confidence. the waddington range remains a place where you get "tested", not just a locale where you climb away your summer vacation. that's not for everyone, but it's a powerful experience for those who are up to the challenge.

 

cheers,

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I was amped and trying to move as quickly as possible through the dangerous area of the glacier, however CJZ took a different view of the icefall. All of a sudden he decided that he didn’t want to continue. Our divergent views soon landed us in a yelling match in the early morning light. After a while when we calmed down it became obvious to me that I would have to climb the mountain by myself. I wasn’t prepared for that, so we hiked back to camp. I got on the radio and called Mike for a ride out. When I got through to him He told me that due to the fires we couldn’t get a pick up flight till Wednesday (it was Monday). We stopped packing and went to separate sides of the camp and fumed about each other. Eventually I noticed a small stream of clouds coming off the summit of Waddington on the otherwise perfect day. The small stream of clouds got bigger and bigger as time went on and by late afternoon it was raining and then snowing at the col with gusty winds.

 

Good job you two on some beautiful looking lines. Hope you and CJZ still remain good friends and for the future. Climbing is easy compared to personalities of climbing partners.

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feck,

you should know by now that disagreeing with mark only invites suffering. consider yourself let off easy.

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congrats on what appears to be a very successful trip. i am jealous and my hands are sweating. don't be shy, post more pics, pretty please?

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Were you guys trying to climb the NW Peak, or take the stroll route over to the main tower? I've only seen pictures, and those seracs look pretty menacing traversing up from Combatant Col. I know you were at the col primarily for other opportunities, but do the majority of sloggers like me climb the NW Peak from Dais Glacier, or Combatant Col? Does this mostly eliminate the serac-band danger?

 

Anyway, nice trip and cool pictures!

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If you were to come up the Dais couloir you would avoid the seracs because you would be on the ridge. The upper Angel glacier is pretty straightforward.

 

Colin could give you some better advice.

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Damnit! I want the pictures for this TR!!! madgo_ron.gifmadgo_ron.gifmadgo_ron.gifmadgo_ron.gif

 

whose gallery are they under?

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well, they're from a year ago, but thanks! that is such a beautiful place. i only skied when i went, but i'd definitely like to go back and do some climbing some time. sounds like you guys had an adventure!

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