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first ascent [TR] First Ascents in the Stikine Area - Various 8/9/2007

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Trip: First Ascents in the Stikine Area - Various

 

Date: 8/9/2007

 

Trip Report:

Well, I know that the title promised multiple first ascents, but what we really have is one first ascent, one failed fA, and one second ascent. But, that is a rather long title. I'll be brief here, and direct people with more interest to my website:

 

http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html'>http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html'>http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html'>http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html

 

 

The website has vastly more photos and text.

 

 

Myself and two Vancouverites headed up north for another trip into the Stikine-Edziza area. We float planed into Yehiniko Lake, shown on this fine map:

 

medium-overview.jpg

 

From Yehiniko, we bushwhacked and swam our way (70 stream fords!) up Quattrin Valley and onto Quattrin Glacier, climbing it to a col that was to be a basecamp for about a week. We first tried a new route on White Rabbit: The West Ridge. White Rabbit has been climbed once before, via a different route, mostly snow and a short ice pitch. The West Ridge is substantially longer and all rock. Below is a shot showing White Rabbit and our general route:

 

beta2.jpg

 

We approached up a glacier, climbing approximately 1500 feet to the top of a ridge that we called Blaster. Even in August, the glacier was in excellent condition. From the top of the ridge, we traversed along and then descended deeply to a notch, where we could gain the West Ridge itself.

 

beta3.jpg

 

The rock quality changed radically from the notch. Blaster Ridge was generally solid and strong, whereas the West Ridge of White Rabbit was truly a horrifying experience. I would have loved to be on the nice, solid rock of the Olympics. It was poor enough that we only roped for one pitch, as there were few places strong enough to take protection and not rip out. The route is mostly exposed fourth class on crumbly rock, with some extensive sections of mid fifth class work. A white out came, making it difficult to gauge our progress. After approximately 8 hours of climbing, we decided to turn around on the ridge, as we had not brought bivy gear with us. The photo below shows our approximate ending location

 

beta4.jpg

 

Being in a white out, it was difficult to tell exactly where we ended our climb. From subsequent observations, I believe the higher one to be correct, though there is a chance the lower one is. We pounded two pitons to rappel past a particularly difficult section of rock. On this rappel, rock broke loose (oddly enough, not caused by the rope or us - It just came loose) and cut most of the way through one of our half ropes at the 40 meter mark. This left us with 60, 40, and 20 meter strands. We rappelled once more, slinging a large block with webbing. We made it back to camp in the middle of an ice/rain storm around 7 pm. I,personally, was glad to have survived.

 

After a day of rest, we headed to the other side of the col to try for a reasonable looking peak above us. As far as we know, this has not been climbed before by any route. We've taken to calling it Doormouse, a bastardization of Dormouse, from Alice in Wonderland, wherefrom White Rabbit is also taken.

 

beta1.jpg

 

The Doormouse yielded easier than did White Rabbit. From our camp at the col, we climbed scramble up rock and snow to gain the moderate glacier below the peak. In the photo below (taken from two days earlier on White Rabbit), you can see the approximate approach route. The glacier started at a moderate 30 degrees, but quickly stiffed to 40 degrees, and eventually to 45-50 degrees near the top.

 

beta5.jpg

 

 

The glacier gained us approximately 2000 feet and dropped us at the base of the East Ridge. The rock here was much better than that found on White Rabbit. We climbed 4th class and low fifth class rock, trying to get on top of the ridge. We roped for one pitch of 5.6 rock and that got us to the top of the ridge itself.In the below photo, you can see me coming up this pitch.

 

mike34.jpg

 

From there, easy class 2-3 terrain, non-exposed, led along the ridge. The ridge narrowed to a knife edge and then dropped into a notch. We built an anchor there and set out 20 meter strand to rappel down into the notch. We left the rope in place to use to climb back out on our return.

 

beta7.jpg

 

This was a fine idea, as none of really wanted to lead the off width to get back up. It runs about 5.9 or 5.10a. From the base of the notch, we built another anchor and Mike led the 5.6 pitch up and out of the notch. The below photo shows us rappelling it on the way down. The climbing route runs to the right of the rope.

 

beta6.jpg

 

Once we were all up, the rest of the route was easy class 2 walking over talus to make the summit. Views from the summit are extensive. The below photo shows the Scud glacier. The prominent peak to the left is Mount Hickman, which has seen one ascent, by Fred Beckey and others.

 

scud79.jpg

 

To the far west, there was several prominent peaks. The right most peak is, I believe, Mount Ratz. The left most is, I think, The Devils Thumb. Sorry for the grain, but this is a 100% crop taken from a 70 mm lens.

 

scud83a.jpg

 

To the south and east is Mount Hoole, named for a Matis guide for Campbell, one of the early explorers of the region. As far as is known, it has not been climbed. It doesn't look easy,though the approach isn't too difficult. It is the prominent peak in the center of the below photo.

 

scud87.jpg

 

 

Finally, we got a good look at Dokdaon, which was first climbed in 1967 by a group of four from Seattle and Alaska. It has not been climbed since.

 

scud93.jpg

 

We built a cairn on top and then retreated back down the peak, retracing our climbing route. The climb up and out of the notch proved to be a rather challenging off width affair, with lots of the obligatory cursing and swearing. It is in the 5.9-5.10a range, but because we left the 20 meter strand, we could do it on top rope. Round trip was in the 12 hour range.

 

After another day of rest we moved our camp from the col down to the base of Dokdaon, where we also had a food cache. Weather was cooperating and we intended to summit Dokdaon the next day. However, this is the Coast Range and good weather just doesn't last.

 

scud111.jpg

 

For five days we were pinned down by unpleasant weather. It usually didn't rain/sleet too hard or too long, but visibility was poor enough that climbing wasn't really an option. The above photo shows a stretch of nice weather when Mike and Bob went for a stroll to the top of the Scud. They summited a minor peak, presumably also a first ascent, in a white out. We called it The Count, though they thought it more of a bump than a peak. Our time was running out, so one morning we forced the issue and went for it.

 

From our camp on the Scud, we climbed glacier, generally in good condition though with some snow bridges of dubious quality, to gain the south face of Dokdaon.

 

beta8.jpg

 

We should have continued traversing the snow around the mountain, but instead took to a snow finger than gained us a lot of elevation. Here is shot of Bob on the traverse around the mountain. You can see that here, on top of the glacier, the terrain is really rather moderate. Why we gave it up for the snow finger is unclear at this moment.

 

mike50.jpg

 

In the below photo, the red route is the climbing route, the blue the descent. It would have been better to take the blue route on the way up.

 

beta9.jpg

 

Our climbing route eventually dumped us onto more difficult class 4 terrain that was necessary, with some loose rock thrown in. There were some exposed sections. Here is a shot on a higher up snow finger.

 

mike51.jpg

 

 

The weather, of course, closed in on us and we were in a complete white out when we summited. Fortunately, there wasn't much precip. Below is summit shot of Bob with the cairn that we found from the 1967 group. We also found an empty tin of sardines.

 

scud118.jpg

 

As we descended it was clear that there was a better route down: Just go straight to the snow. This was much easier than our climb and we got to the glacier fairly easily. In the white out we had to be careful not to get lost (visibility was under 20 meters), but came across some cougar tracks in the snow to follow back to our ascent tracks. Round trip was about 10 hours.

 

scud121.jpg

 

Our time was more or less up, for we still had to traverse the Scud glacier, then the Scud Valley, out to the Stikine for a jet boat pick up. Here is a map showing our entire route. In the below photo, the top lake is Yehiniko, where we flew in, and the ending point is the Stikine. The big glacier is the Scud.

 

route.jpg

 

The traverse out was, shall we say, painful. The bushwhacking was really nasty and I would not do it again. Instead, I would fly in and out of Yehiniko.

 

 

Here are some shots of the traverse out.

 

Looking north back to Dokdaon.

 

scud130.jpg

 

Looking south down the Scud - our route out.

 

scud130a.jpg

 

Nearing the end of the Scud, we start to worry about ice falls, as we getting close to the 1000 feet in elevation level.

 

scud136.jpg

 

We reached the end of the Scud and found nothing to worry about for ice fall.

 

scud138.jpg

 

The next day the weather took a turn for the worse, and this misty crappy would sit on us for the next few days as we bushwhacked.

 

scud144.jpg

 

For a while the flood plain of the Scud was nice walking, except when we got stuck in quicksand. But the river is big enough that we were not about to try to ford it, and when the river pinned us against the edge of the valley, we had to bushwhack through thick Devils club and slide alder to get over these headlands.

 

This is a "clear" section of bushwhacking.

 

bob49.jpg

 

When we were lucky, we found some rocky areas to traverse, instead of fighting the bush.

 

bob51.jpg

 

Below is one of the headlands we had to cross.

 

bob55.jpg

 

Here is Mike on a nice section. We frequently found grizzly trails to help us along.

 

bob56.jpg

 

Bushwhacking is never fun, but when you have a mountain axe, two technical tools, and a picket on your pack, it is even worse.

 

bob69.jpg

 

To get down off of one headland, we rappelled down a steep gully using slide alder as a rope.

 

bob76.jpg

 

Bob's mother made us about 15 pounds of raspberry fruit leather. We never got tired of eating it. Here, you can see true joy in Bob's face as he digs into some of it. The sun also came out for the first time in 3 days, so we were able to dry out soaking gear.

 

bob79.jpg

 

On the next to last day, we had some furious bushwhacking to do. Here, I fight my way into a wall of green.

 

bob98.jpg

 

Believe it or not, I found a squirrel trail to follow.

 

bob99.jpg

 

The "trail" was perfect for someone standing 10 inches off the ground. We had a harder time of it.

 

bob101.jpg

 

We made it to the Scud Portage, a short cut between the Scud and the Stikine. We had hoped it would be a pleasant meadow walk. Well, it wasn't.

 

bob106.jpg

 

In fact, the first time we tried it we got so turned around that after 2 hours of work, we ended up back at the Scud. The next day we walked a bearing instead.

 

bob111.jpg

 

The devils club was thick.

 

bob112.jpg

 

Finally, we made it out to the Stikine. I was very happy.

 

scud151.jpg

 

Our jet boat got us a few hours later and took us upriver to the hamlet of Telegraph Creek. Along the way, we passed the spectacular Sawtooth Range.

 

scud157.jpg

 

From Telegraph Creek, we flew back to Yehiniko and then drove back to Vancouver.

 

--------------

 

So, what is left to do up there? Everything. Almost nothing has been climbed. The 1967 group also summited Ambition and Endeavour. We had plans for these but weather didn't work out for us. Here is the east face of Ambition. The 1967 people did not take it, but instead snuck around the left. Their route is a scary class 4 traverse, according to them. I suspect their class 4 is rather more difficult than what we think of class 4.

 

 

scud57.jpg

 

Endeavour is the mountain to the right of Ambition. It is in the left of the below photo. The peak to the right is unnamed and unclimbed, but we took to calling it The Nipple. The snow route on the left we scoped out from Dokdaon and looked like a good climb in the 50 degree range.

 

scud58.jpg

 

Access to the area, via Yehiniko Lake, is very straightforward and much easier than most in the Coast Range.

 

Again, lots more information and text can be found at

 

http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html

 

One last photo before I end this thing. Taken on the flight out. It speaks for itself.

 

bob121.jpg

 

Gear Notes:

See

 

http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html

 

Approach Notes:

See

 

http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html

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That is pretty cool. I know 2 separate people that have climbed in the Sawtooths but nobody that's been into the area you were in. Looks like a cool place to explore even if the rock wasn't very good sometimes.

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Wow!!!!! What an awesome trip!

 

You know the name of the jetboat people who picked you up on the Stikine? My brother has a jetboat service up the Stikine out of Wrangell. I'm sure he would have called me if he had picked you up though.

 

 

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Wow!!!!! What an awesome trip!

 

You know the name of the jetboat people who picked you up on the Stikine? My brother has a jetboat service up the Stikine out of Wrangell. I'm sure he would have called me if he had picked you up though.

 

 

Dan Pakula from Stikine Riversong picked us up. He runs between Telegraph Creek and Wrangell and his website is

 

http://www.stikineriversong.com

 

However, the Stikine, as it turned out, was big enough and slow enough where we came out that our float plane pilot could have picked us up there. As we're on pretty good terms, it would have been cheaper than the jet boat, which we had to hire as a charter.

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That is just a great looking trip and i think I can imagine all the "fun" you had on the way out

 

well done!!

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Awesome trip. It harks back to the days when people went into these remote areas to explore, climb, and just enjoy being there. Plus you got at least a few some sunny days!

 

Any idea what peak is in the background to the right of Hoole? It looks mighty impressive!

 

scud87.jpg

 

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Fantastic! It's very good you have a friend who is willing to go there and suffer a little.

Thank you for all the photos. Excellent trip.

Zoran

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Thanks for all the kind words! The Coast Range is just massive and begging to be explored. Some suffering is required, but mostly you just need time and some maps. We came out of the trip pretty healthy, though there was one broken arm, some torn tendons, and the Devils Club spines didn't rot out of my hands, arms, and legs for more than a month. There are years and years of trips in this immediate area, and lifetimes in the greater range.

 

I'm not sure what the peak in the background of the Hoole shot is, but I suspect that it is false Hickman. This is the Mount Hickman as listed on the Canadian government maps, but isn't the actual Hickman. Hickman is, I think, further right, out of the shot.

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Wow, that brings back some memories! When I was 15 I hiked up to Coldfish lake, then onto the Spatzizi (SP) river where we built a log raft. We took that down until it met the Stakine and onto telegraph falls. No technical climbing just a lot of bushwacking!

 

Nice work guys!!

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