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Cpt.Caveman

Cerberus (sp?)

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Sounds like a trip planned by Beckey had a couple of folks climb up the peak via a new route ! Maybe mattp was part of the succesful summit team!! Cool [Cool] I await the return and would not mind seeing the cool photos!

 

-

 

[ 08-03-2002, 09:13 PM: Message edited by: Cpt.Caveman ]

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quote:

Originally posted by To The Top:

That is one cool pic! Which way did they go? Nice mountain.

TTT
[Cool]

I dont know for sure. They are probably walking in now to their homes and the dudes aint wimps either. Althogh I heard the icefall was a mess and avoided I am sure the route will be the "standeard one" for this side of the peak. Matp wake up and tell us soon! [chubit]

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I don't think our expedition merits any great hyperbole but we did have a great time exploring a very exciting area and being up there with Fred Beckey made it all that much more special.

 

Cerberus Mountain, July 31, 2002.

"That would sure make a hot miserable climb" remarked Fred, in response to my comment on the spectacular nature of the canyon road we were descending after dropping off the edge of the Chilcotin Plateau, headed for Bella Coola. Our road was barely ten feet wide in places, hacked out of a series of cliffs and scree slopes that appeared so steep and unstable that it seemed an unexpected collapse could occur at any moment and we might soon be plunging toward the river, a thousand feet below. But Fred was on the lookout: as he contemplated a three thousand foot scree gully on the opposite side of the canyon, he continued "Nobody's ever climbed it - probably never will."

 

At the Bella Coola airport, we met the remainder of our party at the hanger/offices of West Coast Helicopters, and following a very spectacular helicopter ride, we were left next to a tiny nunatak, a rocky knob protruding from the Monarch Icefield at nearly eight thousand feet and strategically located between Cerberus and Monarch, our objectives. Mark had been forced by a tooth infection to fly out with the helicopter pilot just as soon as he had arrived, and we were down one, but we were confident. The plan was that we would divide and conquer: the two Canadians, Chris and Ptor were to ski down to Monarch Mountain and climb/ski a new route on the West face of the mountain while Fred, Jim and I were to climb a new route on Cerberus Mountain. If all went well, we'd then head down there and join them to share a camp as skied other lines near Monarch while we tried our luck with the West Face.

 

Setting camp, we had the tent just about squared away when Fred started dragging rocks from the nunatak and depositing them in front of the vestibule. "What are you doing, Fred? We have it all taken care of." But he shined us on and went back to work. A few minutes later it became apparent that he was building a flagstone walkway, from the tent to the rocks nearby. He was setting it up so that we could crawl out of the tent and walk to dry land without getting our sneakers wet. Jim remarked to me, "Check it out -- the guy knows all the tricks."

 

After taking a few days to acclimate and to racon the north face where Fred had proposed we'd establish a new route on Cerberus, we had selected a line that ascended a rock buttress which lead to the northeast (snow) arete, avoiding the obvious dangers of the serac-studded north face itself. I had spent a day and a half in the tent with back pain, and Fred had announced that he was still too tender following his breaking his ribs a month earlier and wouldn't be able to make the climb; Jim began to worry about being stuck with two crippled climbing partners, but I assured him that with the help of some of that over-the-counter Canadian pain medicine I would be able to lick the current pain cycle and that my back was a mess but it had never yet stopped me from climbing something. Ptor and Chris returned from their trip to Monarch with tales of a spectacular success and some stunning footage to back it up and their enthusiasm was infectuous so both of us were pretty stoked as we packed our rucksacks for the climb. Fred told us "leave all the gear behind – you won't need it . . . barely third class -- maybe fourth . . . take just one rope . . . " We assembled a rack that included five stoppers, ten slings, two ice screws, a picket and a fluke.

 

In the morning, we left camp at about three o'clock in the light of a half moon. After little more than an hour we had crossed the icefield, dropped into the basin below Cerberus Mountain, and ditched the skis in a place where we would easily be able to retrieve them whether we returned around the north or south side of the peak. The weather was absolutely perfect, with not a breath of wind and not a cloud but some marine-based fog hanging in the valleys. We skirted a large bergschrund and climbed to the top of a snowpatch shaped like a bust of Abe Lincoln. At the top of honest Abe's forehead, we removed our crampons and I lead a short pitch on loose blocks, wrapping four loops of the rope around a large horn for a belay, without bothering to tie a knot. Upon his arrival, Jim squinted my anchor and glared at me with a wrinkle on his bow that said "A little casual, aren't you?" We unroped and began scrambling up the buttress above.

 

A thousand feet of rock, with a little mixed terrain in the middle of it, led to the top of a tower where we could climb onto the snow arete. It had taken us longer than we had planned to reach this point but hell, the weather still looked great and we agreed that we would easily complete our tour and return to camp by dinner time. We basked in the morning sun and took some photos before starting up the snow.

 

The northeast arete zigged and zagged, gaining elevation in steep rolls up to three hundred feet high. The fresh snow that had fallen over the weekend was balling up our crampons and the neve and rotten ice that lay four to eight inches below the surface offered nothing truly secure for an anchor. Although a fall didn't seem very likely, we sought the security of a rock anchor every once in a while and we belayed much of the arete. After all, it was a long way down to the glacier on either side and the weather looked perfect, so why hurry?

 

Near the top, Jim lead the crux "ice" pitch where we climbed through a break in the summit cornice after deviating off the side of the arete. The natural belay was immediately below a lot of hanging snow and ice so I hung back, opting for a body belay rather than a more formal one. I was glad for the bit of cloud that blocked the sun as he cautiously crept upward. Up on the summit ridge, we were surprised to discover that a large cumulus cloud was just about to engulf the peak and we quickly glanced down the west face before it disappeared from view. We could see that there was gentle terrain not too far down if we could head right, staying near the NW ridge. We couldn't really tell what might be straight down or left.

 

Jim balked about the visibility and the hour when I suggested we spend an extra ten minutes walking over to the summit and back but he said that if I insisted on going anyway, he'd wait for me. Then he followed when I dropped my pack and started along the summit ridge and we took summit photos showing nothing but white. We started down the west face.

 

Good cramponing, facilitated by firm snow with just a touch of new snow on top quickly gave way to wet snow over ice and with our crampons balling up yet again we turned around to face in and downclimb on our front points. Eventually, I sensed what felt like a large bergschrund not far below, so I chopped a platform and began to get the rope out. After he joined me on the ledge I put Jim on belay and he went down to confirm that there was indeed a large schrund below us and we decided to see of we could end run around the right or perhaps set a rappel anchor on some rocks, just barely visible a hundred feet away. Jim traversed over there but he still couldn't see a way down and the rock was badly shattered so he couldn't find a decent anchor. I headed left, traversing a couple hundred yards on fluted snow and ice, traveling closely above the bergschrund to another pile of loose rock where I set an anchor that I thought to be just past the end of the schrund and Jim joined me before we resumed our descent to find, a couple of ropelengths down, what appeared to be a large cliff. Although we couldn't see more than eighty feet down, we were pretty sure we couldn't go that way so once again we began to traverse -- this time back to the right where we hoped to find easier terrain (we were still a few hundred feet higher than our targeted gentle slopes according to Jim's altimeter-watch, but the map showed a kind of diagonal ramp that might lead us in the right direction). We crossed a couple crevasses, passed above some kind of ice cliff, and I crawled over a jumbled pile of ice blocks followed by a somewhat dicey snowbridge to once again find the security of a rock belay. A couple of large crevasses still blocked our descent but we thought that if we could follow the perimeter of our snowface we might find a way down. It worked.

 

By the time we had gotten off the west face, it was eight o'clock in the evening. We descended a glacier to the south, and luckily I had taken advantage of a brief break in the fog to scope out the first couple of crevasses we had to cross so we headed down the middle of the slope for a bit, cut right and zigged around a couple of slots to gain easy travel along the far perimeter of the ice. Our crampons were so badly balling up that it was like walking on stilts, so we eventually took them off.

 

The map said we should find a notch at eight thousand feet between Cerberus and Basin Peak. Jim's watch read eight thousand two hundred as we rounded the south ridge, the line of the first ascent route on Cerberus Mountain, and we found the notch. It was now nearly dark and it was still snowing; Jim started talking about how we should look for a hole to crawl into and take shelter for the night. But I wasn't having none of that and in the last seconds of dusk I found the key snowbridges that allowed us to descend the glacier on the far side of the notch and we ran down to the flats from where we could circle back around to the point where we figured we had deposited our skis. In the darkness and snowfall, however, we couldn't find them. "Sure would have been a good idea to have brought that GPS," we agreed. "There is no crevasse around here and we can't stop for the night. Let's just leave them," said Jim -- "we can always come back later." I studied the map and determined that with a correction for the declination, we needed to follow a course of about eighty degrees. I set the compass and lead off into the darkness.

 

The compass course seemed to take us too far to the right, and in my tired state I elected to ignore the issue and travel partly by compass and partly by memory and dead reckoning. I figured that by doing so we could at least keep moving and although we had no visibility and it was still snowing, there was no wind and the worst that could happen was that we'd spend a night out. After almost an hour, we found ourselves in a crevasse field that should not be there and while I knew where we were within about a half mile or so, I couldn't convince Jim of this fact. Again, he said he wanted to dig a hole and stop for the night and, once again, I wanted nothing to do with it. "I'm not a bear, I told him, and I know that we can't be more than a mile and a half from camp. Besides, you can start to see the peaks over there, and I think our visibility is improving. We plodded on and, almost an hour later, we spotted our nunatak across the icefield as the moon began to rise in the east. Almost twenty one hours after we had started out that morning, we stumbled into camp and went to bed.

 

A couple of days later, the helicopter pilot returned to ferry us back to civilization. The cloud ceiling was low, but there was still plenty to look at and Fred was on the prowl for more un-climbed alpine terrain as we flew over an astounding collection of peaks and glacial formations. As we rounded the last ridge crest and the rest of us were thinking about beer and showers, Fred looked at a serrated rock wall near Saugstad Peak and remarked, "nobody has ever climbed that thing – maybe they never will, huh?"

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Sounds Excellent!

 

Way to push for the tent Matt. That beats the hell out of a cold nite out.

 

Brrrrrr.

 

I want photos!!!

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Our climb was fun, but a new route on a somewhat obscure peak in the middle of nowhere is not all that newsworthy. The bigger accomplishment was made by Ptor and Chris, on Monarch, with a new route and ski descent on the W face or SW ridge. They climbed ice up to something like fifty degrees, and rock up to 5.7, and then THEY SKIED IT. Ptor is one of the guys who skied the N face of Robson and he hinted that this Monarch climb/descent was taking him into a new dimension. They took some truly awesome footage with a digital movie cam. Watch for them as the headliners at the next film festival. You heard it here first.

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