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OlegV

[TR] Lillooet, BC- Night N Gales and more 2/19/2005

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Climb: Lillooet, BC-Night N Gales and more

 

Date of Climb: 2/19/2005

 

Trip Report:

Misstep happened really quickly – I didn’t have time for fear and panic. Here I am, hanging over the steep edge of the Night N Gale’ ice cliff desperately trying to roll over and get myself arrested. Both - my partner Pete and the Russian ice screw - responded well to my slip, just in time to stop my fall into the abyss. Having experienced this, I immediately realized how short the transition between being and not being could be…

 

The quality of ice at Lillooet was our biggest concern. Recent warm weather translated into very thin and wet ice making climbing conditions far from ideal. Pete and I decided to go anyway and try to get the most out of this place. We plan on spending three days climbing ice. The first easy day, followed by two harder days.

 

We checked the guidebook and picked an “easy” Night N Gale climb graded as WI4+.

I thought, this climb is going to be way over my head. The first pitch wasn’t too bad - easy semi-steep scrambling (WI3?) on wet half-frozen ice.

The second pitch looked more interesting - nearly 60-m vertical ice cliff. The wall looked pretty featureless with very few steps and no rest stops, and as Pete discovers later, the middle section consisted of porous thin ice.

Night N Gale:

6323day1-1-med.jpg6323day1-2-med.jpg

 

Pete is a fearless leader. I admire his skills and courage to lead this half-rotten ice cliff. Bombarded by huge chunks of ice continuously coming down from the route, I prayed for no fall. If he does fall, I wasn’t sure those screws would stay in place. Without a single slip, Pete completes the final semi-pitch without placing any protection. An hour later, Pete tops out and sets up an anchor for me to follow. This was the hardest upward climb I’ve ever done, and it was definitely over my head. No rest for your calves for an hour – pure front pointing. Rotten, very rotten ice, I wonder why it held. Halfway up there, I stopped feeling my left hand. That BD leash strangled circulation in my left hand. Use clip-on leashes, people! Somehow, I made it up to the top of the climb without any mishaps. It was getting late now, and it was time to go home. To get to the closest tree at the top of the climb, one has to cross a section of an angled rock covered with loose ice and snow. I went across this rock using my front points hoping for extra grip. No cracks, shit - I thought. And then immediately, I am sliding on my rear end down this rock, then down the ice curve and finally stopping right before the slope becomes completely vertical – thanks to Pete for saving my ass. We repelled down in complete darkness feeling very lucky: no body bags, no broken bones.

 

Once on the safe ground and being warm, we had a few drinks and immediacy began planning our next adventure. The next day was an easy climb. I think it was The Tube (???) But, it could be something else in its’ vicinity. I don’t remember much of the climb - we went through some short steep sections of wet ice before hitting a big unconsolidating wall of ice and water. Here again Pete showing some acrobatics on this very thin stuff – the screws went in barely half a way. No place for protection. We needed more adrenalin.

The Tube (maybe)

6323day2-2-med.jpg6323day2-1-med.jpg

Next day, disappointed by bad ice conditions, we planned a long 600-m climb that goes along a moderate ice gully. It looked like we’d have no problem getting to the base of the climb - only a mile or so of hiking through the woods. By doing that, we’d also avoid river crossing. We had an early start and hit the “trail” before dawn. The term “trail” is typically applied to a path, hole, or some sort of gap in vegetation allowing forward movement. We’ve encountered none of this whatsoever, nothing even distantly resembling the path. Imagine you are a fly caught in a spider web trying to free yourself out. And here we are, forcing ourselves through the brush, fallen trees, and tangled mess of tree branches. We loose each over a couple of times in complete darkness but fortunately are able to communicate by voice. After making a couple of dangerous traverses across the rock ledges hanging over the rough winter river, we finally see ice and are ready to play! It took us 2 hours to get through the jungle of trees covering only a mile in distance. I agreed with Pete, there was no way we were coming back into this brush – we had to come up with an alternative plan. Climbing was enjoyable and somewhat easy – plenty of chances for practicing basic skills. Time passed by and we were almost on top of the climb within 2 hours. After having a quick lunch, we slowly realized that the hardest part of the day is still ahead of us. We decided that down-climbing ice and setting up V-threads would be too dangerous in these wet ice conditions. Instead, we would traverse the mountain to the left – across the rocky buttress and the snow gully towards the trees. From there, we hoped, we can simply walk or rap down the heavily vegetated slope. And here again, we are doing this dangerous stuff walking across the half snow–half dirty rock slope looking for a good tree. Life repeats itself…but not to the full option.

 

To make a long story short, we safely descended down to the river – our only alternative for retreat. At first, I was a bit skeptical about Pete’s suggestion to walk across the 100 ft river. It is rough (class II rapids), cold (the banks are actually frozen) and waist-deep. You fall in the middle of winter – you are a goner. There was no trees or any easy ground for crossing it. We reasoned we’d apply alpine tactics to do the job. Pete belayed me while I was slowly cramponing across the river getting my vital organs iced up. I had two sticks in my hands. One broke sending me out of the balance, but I managed to stay upright. By the way, GorTex doesn’t work well for these kinds of occasions. Now, it was Pete’s turn to battle the river, and my turn to belay him. Shortly after, we crawl out of the woods looking like divers with ice axes.

 

Simply said, it has been one of the best trips ever. Continuos battle of men and the mountains...

 

 

That long icy climb

6323day3-1-med.jpg6323day3-2-med.jpgp><p> <a href=]http://www.cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/503/6323day3-4-med.jpg' alt='6323day3-4-med.jpg'>

 

Gear Notes:

7-9 ice screws

ice tools

twin ropes

plenty of slings and webbing

 

Approach Notes:

has to be invented on a spot

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...Belmore

 

aka Slog of the Titans. yeah, that 2hr stretch involves much profanity, and some loss of blood. we refused to take it on the way back also. uggggh. my only bushbashing scar comes from that approach.

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Oleg, thanks for the overly generous comments. I was a bit gun-ho on this trip, attempting to make up for lack of effort on last month's Hope/Lillooet drunken debauchery. I don't remember the ice being so manky, but what do I know, ice on Hood sets me off.

 

Oleg getting his balls iced up. I'd walk that river any day before taking on the hideous bushwack below Belmore.

801IMG_2596-med.JPG

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The Tube (maybe)

6323day2-2-med.jpg6323day2-1-med.jpg

 

as dru correctly pointed out, this is Duffey's Delight, which lies about 200m right of the Tube. glad to see you found it in semi-fat condition. when Janez and I climbed it last year (probably the 2nd ascent, 19 years after the FA), it was VERY thin and sketchy. congrats on your climb - it's not 'in' very frequently.

 

 

That long icy climb

6323day3-1-med.jpg6323day3-2-med.jpg

 

yup, Belmore. a.k.a. Slog of the Titans. again, u got good conditions. with more snow, the thing really isn't worth the effort, but when you find it icy, i imagine it would have been a very enjoyable outing. the photos make it looks great. shame about the descent...

 

cheers,

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You know Pete, I wasn't too much off in my comments. This trip was action-packed and required continuous decision-making. I agree, the last two days were less interesting in terms of ice (although I'm sure you've got your dose of adrenalin on melting Belmore) but had plenty of superb alpine experiences.

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as dru correctly pointed out, this is Duffey's Delight, which lies about 200m right of the Tube

 

Might be more correct to say Duffys Delight lies 200m EAST of the Tube... actually to climber's LEFT of the Tube

 

 

(Don always busts my chops when I get left and right confused in TRs, payback time!)hahaha.gif

 

I predict Don will come back with some pseudo-further clarification about how the road here is N-S so when I say east I should actually say NE or NNE or N or whatever yellaf.gif

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We did the belmore gully this weekend, and had a blast! We found a bomber log jam across the river about .3 miles before bridge 4. The traverse to the gully from there was cruiser. I can't believe you guys forded that river, she was running pretty good. hellno3d.gif

We also climbed in the "beyond hope" area-sumallo bluffs, were we did a thin 300m WI3+. The wade across the river that night on the way out was VERY cold, making me think this area is very much "beyond hope" right now hahaha.gif

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Hey Nick, glad to hear you've got your dose of ice this weekend! How did you come down from the top of Belmore?

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We came down right of the gully through the trees. It was really easy, just a little painful at times.

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