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Don_Serl

[TR] Crazy Mtn - Paymaster couloir 10/12/2008

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Trip: Crazy Mtn - Paymaster couloir

 

Date: 10/12/2008

 

Trip Report:

In October 2002, on successive weekends, Drew Brayshaw, Steve Harng, and I did the FA's of two of the finest autumn alpine ice routes in SW BC. But while I love this sort of climbing, it's difficult to find occasions on which weather, conditions, and weekends coincide, so I find it's rare to get more than one route of this sort in per season. In fact, often the 'monsoons' set in with such vigour that the routes get buried in 'freshies' and the crampons (and calves) get a holiday. Luckily, not so this year!

 

Graham Rowbotham and I had walked up into Crazy Crk valley in Oct 2006 hoping to repeat Paymaster (the best of the pair), only to find a big middle chunk of the route melted out. A big snowpack last winter, however, seemed to have re-filled the gully, at least as far as Drew's photos of the Plutocrat couloir in the neighbouring valley could be extrapolated. And the forecast, while mixed, appeared to show Sunday as pretty good - so Graham, Jesse, young Marc, and I set off, Marc getting a lift from Scott Pick, who wanted to poke around in the area and do a bunch of mountain photography.

 

The drive up Saturday afternoon was slow but uneventful, but the spotty drizzle on the Hurley was unexpected and worrisome. After a filling dinner at the Gold Bridge hotel we drove towards Bralorne, then branched off onto the Kingdom FSR for 11km to the Crazy Ck branch. This led in about a kilometre to a landing where we camped. The camping was enlivened by me forgetting my tentpoles at home, but four 5-foot poles inserted into the corners of the tent and tied together at the top teepee-style solved the problem. Good thing too, cuz it rained (!) overnite, which had us pretty dubious about the morrow. Unexpectedly, the skies cleared late in the night after the front passed thru, and it was starry and crisp when we got up at 5:30. Breakfast, repacking, and so on delayed us till 7am, when we set off into the gloom.

 

It takes about an hour to climb the forested slope above the clearcut right of the creek, and there are plenty of windthrows to test your patience and agility. (Angle a bit left till you reach the crest, then follow the crest rightwards.) A gently descending traverse into the valley eventually intersects a flagged roadline from a decade ago, and while there is some messy bush to deal with, it's simplest to just more or less follow the copius taping. A couple scree-fields are crossed before one finally breaks out of the trees and angles up pleasant rocks and scrub to the rim of the upper valley, 2 1/2 hours from the car, and time for 2nd breakfast.

 

The route looked great, although the coating of a couple inches of fresh snow everywhere had us wondering about conditions. Another hour-and-a-half saw us to the moraine crest, and we 'suited up'.

 

The couloir, which looks so fierce face-on from a distance, lays back as you get to its base. And the neve was soft and compliant, considerably less hard and brittle than in 2002. Graham, ever-fit, disappeared into the heights, while Jesse, Marc, and I made slower progress. The climbing became tiring in the upper third, as the ice got crispy and a bit less well annealed, requiring more front-pointing and less 'splaying' of one flat-footed-crampon, but we three finally dragged ourselves over the top just after 2pm, about 2 1/2 hrs after starting.

 

There was a chilly wind, but extensive clear views, from Matier and Black Tusk all the way to the fringes of the Tchaikazan, where clouds were starting to well up. I set off down after a bit cuz I needed to get more to drink and cuz I reckoned I'd be slower than the younger guys, while Graham and Marc scrambled to the summit. The descent follows the ridge down west, then loops northeast into the second valley north of the peak. We exited this side valley on the left (there's a nasty gully straight out the front) to regain the main valley midway thru the upper meadow section. By the time we regained the 'rim', it was 6pm, and it was obvious we would soon be thrashing in the bush by headlamp once again.

 

Getting to the ridgecrest above the clearcut wasn't bad, but picking a good route thru deadfall-laden terrain in the dark is not possible, and much thrashing ensued. Jesse got the 'form and style' prize for a beautiful header complete with half-twist and calf-spearing branch-stub. Where DOES he find the time to train to such a high level?

 

Eventually we started to get glimpses of the headlights that Scott had thoughtfully switched on below to guide us home, and finally we stumbled out onto the landing, 13hrs after setting off. And by 2am, after a rainy drive home and a hot shower, I finally fell into bed and yet another fine autumn adventure came to an end.

 

I'll post some photos when the guys get 'em up. And/or Cheamclimber will do the same...

 

Cheers,

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A starry and crisp report, thanks!

 

I hear that Jesse practices his dives at Kloochman.

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I enjoyed this trip immensely despite being in the shadow of some great climbers. Burdened by my love of mountain and landscape photography and ever midful of my pitiful abilites to keep up with climbers gunning for a peak I decided to wander around the Cadwallader backroads and poke my nose into some places that I wanted to check out for future access. Jumping backwards after an incredibly yummy diner at the Gold Bridge Hotel we made our way in the evening gloom to the "trailhead". Weather was spitty and didn't look too promising for the next day. Bad weather for climbing = bad for photography. The evenings activities started off with watching Don quickly improvise a "teepee" system for his tent in liew of actual tent poles (which were forgotten at home). What was amazing was how fast the situation went from a puzzling problem to a bomb-proof solution in minutes. The result was a combination of prospector/modern climber shelter. It worked and the guys slept soundly...that is after a few beers in Don's truck while laughing at the antics of the classic movie "Borat". In the AM the troops packed up and dissapeared into the bush just as it got light enough to see. I headed up to the headwaters of the Cadwallader under Mt. Aragorn. I was hoping to head to the lakes below Mt. Taillefer but my hopes were dashed after walking about a klick to the end of the road and discovering that not only the bridge was out the slopes above looked super wintery. Oh well, at least when I come back next summer I'll know the way.

Later on I prowled around both forks of Noel Creek and discovered that the access to the Incisor Peaks in the west fork is drop dead easy. Would have wandered up the valley under the peaks but was getting late and I wanted to get back to the trailhead and make sure that I met up with the guys before they bugged out, knowing that I had to give Marc a ride home. Progress back to the meetup was slow as I stopped constantly to photograph the things that caught my eye. Made it back just as night came only to find out that the climbers were still not back. About 8pm something I started to see headlamps bob in the forest above and I counted 4 meaning that the troops left the battle successfully. All that remained was a bizarre 1/2 sleeping 5 hour drive home over brutal, bounce sideways washboard and a psychedelic blurry-eyed drive down the Sea-to-Sky slalom course. Thanks for the memories guys.

 

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Edited by ScottPick

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The trip was pretty sweet, except for the swan dives in the blowdown. Definitely a good calf-burning route! The route is really nice right now. The neve is super easy to climb and never feels sketchy, even in the steepest sections. Thanks for the great trip guys!

 

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The route from the valley

 

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Snow covered moraine near the base of the couloir

 

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Middle section

 

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Looking down

 

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The upper section

 

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Don finishing the couloir

 

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Looking down the south side

 

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Great view

 

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pretty mountain

 

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On descent

 

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Still on descent

 

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Good angle showing the proper steepness of the couloir

 

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Sunset on the hike out

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Nice trip boys!

 

Jesse got the 'form and style' prize for a beautiful header complete with half-twist and calf-spearing branch-stub. Where DOES he find the time to train to such a high level?

 

He's a pro, that's for sure. Jesse coming down from Old Settler w/o a headlamp was one of the most horrific things I've ever seen.

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I was hoping to head to the lakes below Mt. Taillefer but my hopes were dashed after walking about a klick to the end of the road and discovering that not only the bridge was out the slopes above looked super wintery. Oh well, at least when I come back next summer I'll know the way.

 

Cross the creek 30 seconds upstream on a nice log. In some years I've had to wade. From there it's 45 mins of light bush to alpine and the scenery is butt ugly. Shhhh!

 

Later on I prowled around both forks of Noel Creek and discovered that the access to the Incisor Peaks in the west fork is drop dead easy. Would have wandered up the valley under the peaks but was getting late and I wanted to get back to the trailhead

 

Dead easy as in it's still rough 4wd to the base, or dead easy as in the road has been improved?

 

Cadwallader80.jpg

 

That bit is a pretty cool 5.7 with good cracks and satisfying exposure.

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Jordan

Copy on the shhhhhh....Can't wait to get there and take lotsa pics. I was just 2-3 weeks too late getting in there. The river is wide and slow there and I would have tried to look for a crossing by going up-valley but the slopes above were snowy and dark. I want to see this area in its mid-summer glory. Its really high on my hit list.

 

Also Standard Ridge looked like a total cakewalk from the road. The meadows look lush and gorgeous.

 

The Noel Creek road is OK. Its pretty good (dare say 2wd) to the "forks". The west fork is getting single-track like. Its getting scratchy too. I managed to almost below the Incisors but stopped when the alders really grew in. It was about a 10 minute walk to where the creek from the Incisors crosses the road.

This road might be undrivable in a 2-3 years - either it sloughs off or the alder continues to grow in. That's why I am going back ASAP. Too bad I didn't discover this gem of an area before the end of the season.

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