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jordop

[TR] Chilcotin Explorations - Mount Vic: "A Key Piece in the Puzzle" 8/14/2007

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Trip: Chilcotin Explorations - Mount Vic: "A Key Piece in the Puzzle"

 

Date: 8/14/2007

 

Trip Report:

Through the wonders of geography and resultant road construction, the peaks of southwest BC are generally segregated into those within weekend reach, and those that must be reserved for vacations. As one moves NW from the Pemberton/Gold Bridge area, there comes a point when access means driving 10hrs to Williams Lake, west along the Chilcotin Plateau, and then back south again to re-enter the Coast Mtns -- all for peaks plainly visible from the Pemberton area.

 

Obviously, the Vacation Peaks usually involve helicopters and/or long hikes. Amazingly, this trip involved both! Due to recent dissolution of mining regulations in BC and simultaneous high prices for gold, there is a fairly active level of mineral exploration and speculation going on right now in the Chilcotin. There is an outfit paying Whitesaddle Air to fly hundreds of kilometres each day, from Bluff Lake to southern Taseko Lake, merely to shuttle folks one valley over from the Falls River Camp. The idea was to hop on during one of these legs and score a cheap flight into the headwaters of Beece Creek east of Taseko Lakes. The neat thing about this place is it is right between the big peaks of the Coast Mountains and the weekenders further south. It is also right on the edge of the Interior plateau, which we hoped would give some wicked views.

 

For some time there was reliable road access to this area, and Don and others have done a number of excellent couloir climbs in the area, but under odd circumstances the road has recently washed out only 6km in. Tragically, a woman perished earlier this summer when the truck she was in rolled down the washout and into Beece Creek. Since the landowners of the area don't seem too keen on repair, it seems the area is stupidly cut off right now.

 

But, there was a small wrinkle in our plans. On the Saturday, we found out that the miners would not be flying until Monday, which left only 5 days total before I had to be back for a buddy's wedding, so we then decided to embark on a geographical and cultural exploration of the Chilcotin plateau. Storm clouds were gathering on the drive up, so we called on some friends of Don's and stayed the night at their incredible homestead where they live off the vegetable garden, fish from the lake, a herd of goats, and wind/solar power:

 

Roland.jpg

 

That night we heard some bizzaro tales about the various characters that live up there: the Vietnam-dodging barefoot and naked hippie who routinely walks to Lillooet and back with no supplies, and the previous owner of the Taseko Lake Lodge who, on a drunken dare during his own birthday party, blew his arm off with a stick of dynamite. Tom Robbins should write a book about this place.

 

The next day we explored nearby Nemiah Valley and went for a great hike up a neighbouring mountain. Looking west over Konni and Nemiah Lakes to Chilko Lake area:

nemiah.jpg

 

Views across the valley to the possibly unrepeated Beckey north face of Tatlow Mtn:

tatlow.jpg

 

The next morning Mike picked us up from Taseko Lodge and flew us to the base of Beece Peak. The plan was to drop a base camp and then hike over to Mt Vic further east with bivy gear. After climbing that we would come back to try Beece and then hike out. While Don and Mike yammered away about the washout in the front of the bird, I looked at the Beece Valley below us and wondered what the fuck Don was thinking about us walking out. It looked ridiculous!

 

North face of Beece from basecamp:

 

beece1.jpg

 

We threw some stuff in our packs and then walked further east up valley to Mt Vic which has a nice north face visible from the Taseko Valley. After a nice but gruntish hike, we then wondered why we didn't get Mike to drop us at Vic in the first place.

 

Lots of otherworldy scree slopes and barren landscapes the next morning and we got to the shoulder of Vic. Way more moderate than we had hoped, but excellent cramponing with this fucking cool panorama of the plateau of emptiness behind us:

vic1.jpg

 

Cresting the shoulder the views started to get crazy:

vic2.jpg

 

Looking northwest. Waddington in distance behind Beece:

wadd.jpg

 

South to Sampson and Thiassi:

thiassi.jpg

 

Southwest over the Lillooet Icefield:

lillooet.jpg

 

This was indeed a "key piece in the puzzle", looking northwest to the various big helicopter trips, and southeast to the weekend warrior jobs. After playing Encyclopedia Brown on the BC Geography Nerds section of Trivial Pursuit, we went back down to the bivy, packed up, and then began the grueling walk back to our basecamp at Beece. This was a bigger day than we had expected and perhaps our wide eyes were bigger than our stomachs, cause as we stumbled into camp we were pretty bagged and soon decided that our plan to try a line on Beece the next day and then begin a mammoth hike out the day after that was a bit much.

 

So we gorged on all our helidropped food and bzzrverages, slept in the next moring and began this marathon journey out. In total, we covered about 40 km but with stupidly large packs full of all sorts of shit we hadn't even used. But over two days we saw some of the coolest Yukon-esque landscapes I have ever seen. High altitude plateaus and these incredible lakes:

taseko1.jpg

 

That night we camped in this mindblowing valley just west of Taseko River:

taseko2.jpg

 

By the time we stumbled and tripped our way back to my car at the Taseko Lodge, we were stupidly tired and my bad ankle felt like it was down to bone-on-bone. We chatted for a while with a nice guy working on the ranch. We drained a bunch of beers and talked about whether after too long in the bush one starts to think like an animal. I thought we certainly smelled the part.

 

Don ingratiated us enough that we asked if we might use their shower to clean up before the drive home. While Don was inside, I had a wicked "down home country wisdoms" chat with this guy, who remarked that for him the Chilcotin was the "real world" and that the big city was the fake one. Mere minutes later Don came out of the lodge and sighed, perfectly, "Well, guess we have to make our way back to the real world now." After driving through the night as I oh-so love to do, I stumbled home as the sun rose, the puzzle nowhere near complete, but at least a little better visualized.

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Awesome and well written...I knew you loved those all night drives!! Sounds like a wicked adventure and those are wicked shots!!

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Great report.

That homestead looks like Rolland's place close to Nemaiah Valley.

Zoran

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Great report.

That homestead looks like Rolland's place close to Nemaiah Valley.

Zoran

Bingo! Dude's hilarious!

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vic1.jpg

 

btw, joke was nearly on me. we really lucked out with the weather, or I'd have been in deep shit clothing-wise: I left all my mtn clothes sitting on a bedside table when we loaded up to leave town, so I did the trip in my street clothes - the ever-stylish pair of Dockers are featured in this photo. not bad for climbing, actually, but they tended to bind some once I got sweated up on ascents on the walk-out.

 

(I also had a cpl T-shirts, a light fleece sweater, a double dose of Merino sox, and - luckily! - my Dryclime and Primaloft jkts. seeings how Gordie Smaill climbed the Cassin back in the late 70s in a pair of jeans, I was feeling pretty well geared up...)

 

cheers, don

 

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