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Dru

At Last -The Kanaka Kolumn TR

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So to motivate everyone for this season I thought i would share a little TR from some ice last year.

Driving up and down the Fraser Canyon numerous times last year my keen eye spotted some water ice hidden in the back of a bowl just off the Trans Canada and immediately north (100m) of the Kanaka Bar Cafe (about 10km south of Lytton). I asked Don Serl about it and also Lyle and neither of them had ever heard of anyone climbing it.

So it was late February and yet another weekend where I wanted to try the impressive Crucible (aka Nicoamen Creek falls on the Trans Canada south of Spences Bridge, in the Thompson R. valley). No partners were keen and I was telling myself I was pretty strong so I figured I would hike in and solo if it looked good.

Drove up from Chilliwack in the morning and things were starting to look melty. But parking by the highway Crucible looked to be in. I could see some ice although most of the falls is hidden from view by rock walls from where you park.

I geared up and hiked down to the creek which had many rocks and open pools of water. the approach is classivc Thompson ice and involves climbing fixed wire ladders and cramponing over frozen scree and thin ice over deep pools of water that you could easily drown in if you broke through. I was kinda scared several times but eventually made it to the big snow ice mushroom below Crucible itself.

It was NOT in. There was ice on left and right of the falls but the middle third was open top-to bottom and a thunderous cascade was spurting forth under immense pressure like a massive fie hose. I considered soloing the ice on the side for all of 10 seconds until I saw a big chunk fall into the open water and get smashed to fragments immediately - no way shocked.gif" border="0

After disappointedly doing a bit of dry tooling and bouldering on some short smears near the base I dispiritedly hiked back to the car. Almost there i decided rather than totally write off the day I would head down to Kanaka Kolumn and seeif it was in or not. I drove back down, turned onto a dirt road that looked like it lead to the base of the route, and parked. As I got out of the car I saw fresh tire tracks in the dirt. Uh oh?

Hiking up the road quickly to the end I found a car with Washington state plates parked at road end. shocked.gif" border="0 One guy was in it sleeping in the back and two other guys were just walking back to the car. "Oh hi."

"Hey are you ice climbing"

"Yeah we were just checking it out. I think were gonna do it."

"Well I'm soloing so I will just zip up ahead of you and get out of your way" (and beat you to the FA if this thing is really unclimbed I thought to myself...)

So with Washington guys racking up behind me I ran to the ice and soloed up some WI2 flow through the trees to the base of the Kolumn. More of a Kurtain actually, it had a short vertical step, terrace, and then a higher pillar that was gushingly slushy wet. I swung tools and worked up the short step to the terrace, using the one rampy and less than vertical spot. The familiar feeling of standing under a cold shower in Goretex...

I swung a tool into the upper pillar. Not even weighting the tool, just under its own weight, it slid through theslush down to waist level and icy water spurted out of the hole it had made. Hmmm. Not good.

I considered backing off. Then I considered the Washington party below that would undoubtedly scoop me if I did. Hmmm. Looked at the ice again. On the right of the pillar were some solide rlooking mushrooms glommed on to a dead tree. A ha!

I swung into the tree and one crampon above the other, got worked up onto the ice like I was climbing a pole or rope - tools and feet in a line and staggered. With left tool I reached out and hooked behind the ice on a rock knob. Got the feet higher - dropped other tool , to hang by its leash, and grabbed another bush or tree with my glove and swung a mantel onto a shelf - reached up with tool for a stick in some frozen moss - stood up - both tools in congealed dirt and over the lip - feet on top of pillar and made final mantel. I was on top!

I bushwacked back from the cliff edge through a thicket of prickle bushes then did a little victory dance. Alas I did not utter the victory hoot in approved "Beyond Gravity" fashion. Then I took my 'poons off and hiked down the side of the drainage to encounter the Washington crew busy engaged with rope and screws on the first WI 2 pitch. "Oh yeah its a bit slushy at the top, well, have fun... its not in the book but its called the Kanaka Kolumn, with a K, yup - bye!"

Drove back to Chilliwac and the next day sprayed to all and sundry over the glory of another "first ascent"*. Quite honestly if I was the only climber out that day I would probably have gone home instad of climb. I guess this is one of those times when competitive urges can be postive, especially because I'm probably the only one who realized I was competing.... grin.gif" border="0

I still don't know who the 3 Washington climbers wre but thanks for letting me jump the queue and go first if you read this.

*Still have not been able to find anybody who admits to climbing it before this but as it is 100m off a major highway I would not be surprised if it had seen previous action.

Kanaka Kolumn 5.6 WI 3+ 45m. 25m WI 2 creekbed/low angle falls to 20m 5.6 WI 3+ curtain/pillar of poor ice and frozen vegetation.

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I have never led WI 4 so if I can climb it solo it must be no harder than 3+. even if it is reality bath.

actually if it had been good ice it might have been WI 3. but it was the hardest route i climbed last year smile.gif" border="0

[ 12-03-2001: Message edited by: Dru ]

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