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[TR] Selkirk Range - Adamant Range Traverse - Gothics 7/25/2009


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Trip: Selkirk Range - Adamant Range Traverse - Gothics


Date: 7/25/2009


Trip Report:

On July 25, Carl from Sandpoint ID,Kale from Bonner's Ferry ID and I flew from Kinbasket Lake up to the Moraine below Friendship col. Our plan was to do the fabled Adamant - Austerity Traverse. After setting up basecamp, we climbed to the Gothics Glacier via Friendship Col and hiked to the top of Sentinel Peak to have a look at what we were in for. It didn't look promising, as the glaciers were very broken up and snowbridges were going or gone.


Here is a view of the Adamant group from the Granite Glacier. The sharp peak on the left end is the Stickle.



Kale suggested that rather than just climb Mt. Adamant via the Granite Glacier, which appeared to be probably impassible, we should start at Pioneer Peak which anchors the East end of the Adamant Group and traverse the entire group, including the seldom climbed Stickle. (We later observed during the traverse that the N. ridge route was completely swept by a massive slab avalanche set off by an enormous serac fall.) In order to do this, we would have to rappel the 210 meter ice face below the summit of Pioneer Peak.


Here is Kale rappelling the ice face. He did a brilliant job of engineering the rappels. The ice was well frozen and we used Abalokov anchors to get down it.



After going over the bergschrund and pulling our ropes, we effectively cut off our retreat and were obligated to make it work. Our next problem was to get up the drippy ice covered with sugar snow and festooned with slots to get on to the rock on the Stickle.


Here is Carl on mixed ground leading to the rock.



The rock climbing was considerably more difficult than the 5.0 stated in the guidebook, (more like 5.7) but after a few routefinding false starts we made it to the summit.


Here is Carl and I on the summit of the Stickle.



Several extremely steep rappels off of the summit brought us in to the basin between the Stickle and a rocky crest that connected to the E. ridge of Adamant. We traversed a very steep knife edge snow ridge. This was one of the more elegant spots on the traverse. Kale is here in the lead.



This is looking back at Carl.



We thought that the rocky crest that we reached would be easier going, but the crest was gendarmed and we had to traverse the South side of it on very loose exposed rock and steep fluted snow. We reached a notch under the E. peak of Adamant as daylight was waning and decided that we weren't going to be spending the night on the summit of Adamant.


There was a ledge under the notch that wasn't especially spacious, but did have a nice view of Mt. Sir Sanford.



The following morning, we rappeled off of the ridge into the basin beneath the East and Main peaks of Adamant.



We were able to get over the bergschrund via the only remaining snow bridge and summitted on Adamant by the upper North Ridge.



We were now on known terrain, but we still had a ways to go. There were more overhanging rappells. (All of the rappells were that way.)



The next summit was Turret. We napped for about an hour on the comfortable summit.



After that it was on to Austerity.



Austerity offered another comfortable summit for napping. It also had the most elaborate summit register. Its one of the milk runs for the guides. They'll have to work harder to get their clients up there this year with the condition of the Granite Glacier however.



We did our first non-overhanging rappels down the West Ridge of Austerity. (Looks like an enjoyable climb.) and continued on to Ironman, which anchors the West end of the main Adamant peaks.



An interesting mixed move from the snow finger brought us to the top of Ironman. We rappeled and downclimbed the ridge that descends Ironman and divides 2 branches of the Granite glacier. This culminated in a rappel down some steep ice and a glissade over the bergschrund to get to the lower part of the Granite Glacier below Unicorn Peak and the Horn.



We found a comfortable camp in the scree between the upper margin of the glacier and the peaks of Unicorn and the Horn.



The following day we did leisurely ascents of the Horn and Unicorn Peak. We still had to cross the apparently very crevassed Granite Glacier to get back to camp and we decided to get an early start the following morning due to the horrible snow conditions. We heard later on that it hit 103 in Seattle.



The glacier crossing was much easier than we anticipated and we arrived back at basecamp by 8 AM. Still early enough for our first coffee in 4 days.


Later that afternoon, Kale's friend from Fernie, Louisa dropped in to join us, having gotten in on a flight to an ACC camp. She entertained us with various off color jokes along with jokes about Canadians. (She hails from England)


We spent the following week swimming in the nearby lake, resting and doing some fabulous rock climbs in the Gothics.


Approaching Gibralter Peak. The Toadstool is the little bump to the right of Gibralter.



Carl and I climbed the N. face of Gibralter which involved launching from the edge of a moat onto an incredible splitter crack.



Kale and Louisa climbed the Toadstool and raved about the quality of the rock on it.


After a couple of days of questionable weather, we all reunited on the Gothics Glacier for another day of spectacular climbing on the E. peak of the Gothics. Here is the ice ridge that leads to the rock.



Louisa on the stellar rock on the upper part of E. Gothics Peak.



We then concluded the day with a mass ascent of Pioneer Peak via the mixed upper East Ridge.



Kale and Louisa remained up on the Gothics Glacier that evening and the next day traversed Pythias and the Houdini Needles to Mt. Quadrant.


We got an early flight back to Kinbasket Lake on Saturday, August 8th


Gear Notes:

For the Adamants traverse:


small mid 5th class rock rack.

2 ice screws

ice hammer for leader. seconds followed with ice axe.

flukes all around

2 60 m 8.1 mm ropes made for exciting overhanging rappels


Gothics climbs:

rock shoes make it fun


Approach Notes:

Alpine Helicopters of Golden BC. will shuttle you in from Kinbasket lake. Its a 15 minute flight.

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Cost varies depending on whether you can piggyback on someone else's flight in or out. We got flights in when ACC camps were flying out from somewhere and vice versa. It was about $350 per person. The helicopter is a big heli ski rig so it can carry 4 with gear comfortably, 5 if you go super light. If the West side road on the Columbia weren't washed out in 9 places, it would be about a 5 hour hike. If you were really feeling ambitious and had a watercraft, you could paddle/sail/motor across Kinbasket Lake to get to the trail.

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Great trip! I've spent a couple weeks in the Adamants/Gothics, and we hiked in via the trail back in 2006. It took us about 8 hours to get to the hut, and it's not really that far, the difficulty lies in the large avalanche fans that the trail crosses between the standing timber down low and the start of the moraines. They are very bushy, and we also encountered large areas where mature trees had been laid down into an unstable jackpot of logs and branches, which was tiring with a big pack full of gear.



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Nice trip, Mark, and excellent photos. That bivy on Adamant looks wild. What a lot of good peak bagging! Did you get thunder storms on Tuesday night, 8/4? We got hail in the Bugs that night, and scattered rain squalls Mon. through Wed. Looks like you guys had a bunch of fun, nice work!

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