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scottwesh

[TR] Mt. Waddington, Coast Range ,BC - Bravo Rt

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Trip: Mt. Waddington, Coast Range ,BC - Bravo Glacier

 

Date: 7/20/2012 to 7/27/2012

 

Trip Report:

Last Spring Craig Seasholes from Seattle called me up and invited me to join the Supine/Alpine Expedition to climb in the Waddington Range. I (Scott Waeschle 51) did not hesitate and asked to bring my son Keenan Waeschle (19) a gung ho climber that would be sure to put the rope up for me. So what does the supine mean I asked? We spend time on our backs and climb, Craig said. OK...I thought? It turns out 12 years ago a group of very experienced and diverse climbing friends started going on climbs each summer. They are adventures,former instructors and gudes, that have climbed in ranges all over the world, with success and survival on mountains including Everest, K2 among others. Folks ages were late 50's to 70's. There was no set objective other than to get near the Plummer Hut and see what we could do. We were trying to fill two helicopter flights and have fun. Keenan and I drove north on July 19 to meet Craig, Martin Zabaleta (Basque now in Bozman), Robin Houston (flew in from Nepal),John Day from Sedro Woolley, and David Payne from Toronto.

 

 

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I have never been on such a large glacier. The scale was immense. When the Helicopter dropped us off we all just stood and looked up and around at the huge peaks, ice and snow. 20 minutes before we were in a sunny meadow standing next to the van. Now we had rain threatening to fall and we were but mere specks of dust on the sea of white ice. Scott, Keenan, Martin and Robin were on the first flight. The clouds were low so we were dropped off at Rainy knob 3000 feet lower than the Plummer hut to act as a weather station. When the sun came out and we could see the top Mike(heli Pilot) would come in with the others and shuttle us up to the hut. It just started to rain and socked in for 2 days. The others went for a hike in the meadow and John drove all the way back to Williams Lake 3 hours away to buy a new pair of boots. His plastics disintigrated waiting for the chopper.

 

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When we all were finally flown in the weather was fickle and we had to change our plans to stay at Rainy Knob and make the best of the situation. We decided to try Mt.Munday the next morning but it was pouring at 4 AM. I was learning about the Supine part of this group. It was my 3rd day sitting and lying in the shelter. I learned that Craig is the King of Supines he did not move until 2 in the afternoon when the sun finally came out

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Keenan, Matin, and Robin all taking in the view!

 

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We went for a hike up Rainy Knob and to check out the routes up the Bravo Glacier on Waddington. It felt great to move and the view was amazing. The forcast improved so we decided to go for Waddington the next day and make a high camp at Bravo col

 

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Walking 200 yards away from base camp with a shovel to get a bit of regularity. Whymper dome in the background. There is a good 5.7 route on the left skylne we considered doing but they we realized the hike to the base was 7 km from camp and we were out of time after our 3 days on Waddington

 

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David on Rainy nob

 

 

 

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The crux of the lower route is finding one's way through giant seracs, cravases and the final bergschrund. We wound our way back and forth on the glacier with some complicated route finding and some nervous leaps accross snow bridges.We found a steep diagonal ascending traverse to cross the schrund. The snow was as Martin said in his heavy Basque accent "Shit!" We postholed knee deep in slush until the steepest part of the climb went straight up. Unconsolidated slush 1-3 feet thick over smooth rock. My son Keenan led crawling and floundering up in unsecure Yuck. I was relieved when he called out,"Hey I see a rap anchor..." and clipped in. We all got a belay up to more solid ground.

 

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The scale of the mountain is visible here. Behind me on the Tiedemann you can pick out the specks of our base camp and we are only 1/2 way up the mountain.

 

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We made a high camp in the bravo/silman col near 10000 ft. The wind can rip through these high camps and we had heard many stories of climbers having good tents torn to shreds at Combatant col (seen in the center distance of the image) and at Dragontail camp. We built a very large snow wall around our tents and spent a still night in comfort.

 

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Martin shoveling with David, Craig, Robin supervising

 

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Combatant Col Avalanche. Slides were dropping at all times of the day and night

 

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A wrong turn up to the right blocked by a giant Cravase. We traversed let to a steep slope of better snow to gain the top snow fields

 

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The extent of the glacier ice caps blew me away. The coast range is a sea of ice. In the distance is the Homathko ice field which feeds the Homothko river one of the few major gaps and rivers that flow through the coast range to the Pacific. I am more of a whitewater kayaker and I paddle many of the rivers that flow from the melting snow we were climbing on. Last August I was forced to abort a river trip on the Nass River which flows to the Pacific north of Waddington. The river went from 20000 cubic ft/sec to 120000 cfs overnight and washed us out of camp in the middle of the night when a pinapple express dumped 6 inches of rain on an ice cap similar to the one in the picture. Being above on the mountain side does allow one to see what is below in a new light.

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Martin and Keenan simul-climbing on firmer snow and a bit of ice. NW aspect a bit colder

 

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Martin and I below the summit block. It was a lovely day to be out in the mountains

 

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High Camp Bravo col. Camp is in the center of the photo

 

 

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Scott telling another story...but really getting a rest

 

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The Upper Bravo Glacier is in better condition that the lower. The route finding was straight forward with smaller cracks and easy snowbridges to cross.

 

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The summit was coated in Rime Mushrooms. We spent 3 days in base camp while the top of the mountain stormed we were in rain. The summit block was coated in white when we started climbing. Now we could see much more bare rock, however the very warm temps did not give us much hope of safely scaling the the 5.7 rock and ice. We could hear and see the summit falling down the closer we climbed.

 

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If you look carefully you can see our tracks heading up the glacier then moving to the left edge of the snow near the top rock. We had to route find a bit to get over the top giant cravases by traversing left to a steep snow and ice slope. We found better snow and some ice because the slope faced more NW and was not as soft.

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The summit block was dropping rock and ice down every few minutes. We were not going to climb it in the heat. A week before a climber had his hand and thumb smashed by a rock near the top. He summited, rapped then called for a helicopter. We decided to try the NW summit 20 meters lower and a snow climb. This photo is as far as we went. The snow was still "shit" balling up and big post holes. We had to cross a 200 ft slope beneath an ice cliff and the rime crusted NW summit. Too much objective danger. Martin in his 60's who has climbed and guided all over the world said "I do not like this." Keenan 19 was game to try it, Craig 50's, Robin 60's and me Scott 50's all raised our hands and in a chorus said,"This is good, Lets go down, It has been a fine day!" and so we happily turned around 700 ft below the summit. All but one of us has a wife and children.

 

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The descent back to high camp was not so fun. The snow was not consolidated yet still slush. I was stepping in others foot prints and sinking 2 feet deep every step. I am 6-5 and wear size 16 plastic boots...no the extra surface area was of no help. We all wallowed down to the tents.

 

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The last night of the trip was clear and I had brought in a big tripod and flash equipment to experiment with some long exposures. I do not stay awake well after I go to bed. I like staying warm in my bag and dreaming so I had to muster up big creative energy to mess around with my camera in the dark. I set up a composition when it was light and I could see. I preset my camera for manual focus, and adjusted my aperature to f20 and ISO 200. The stars were not very bright and there was no moon so dark was quite dark. I did some test shots firing the flash inside the tents to get them exposed properly, locked the shutter open and went back to bed. The first try was for 1 hr but the stars did not show up well enough so I tried again this time for a 2 1/2 hour exposure and it worked out better. In the morning my fellow climbers all talked about the lightening they saw in their sleep, but how they never heard thunder >wierd<.

 

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Mt Munday, Bravo, Waddington (Small in back) The Serra group

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Flying out!

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David, Craig,Scott, Robin, John, Martin, Keenan

 

Gear Notes:

We had one 80 meter and a 50 meter rope this worked fine for glacier travel until the raps down over the bravo glacier schrund where 2 -80 meter ropes would have made it all the way down over the schrund on the second rap from rock anchors. Keenan set up a biner on a clove hitch at the second rap anchor and we rapped on the 80. Then tied 30 meters of cords to the 50 meter so we could pull the rope. With shorter ropes you would need to make a bollard or leave an anchor in the very soft snow.

 

Approach Notes:

Drive to Tatla lake BC, Get in the helicopter, fly in.Remember to take the radio to call for a pick up. Pay Mikes wife $932.00 each when you get out.

Edited by scottwesh

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jesus, how does a man even get a pair of size 16 plastic boots?!? :)

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My son Keenan says you are even taller than we are with perhaps bigger feet? Lowa makes the Civetta to 16 which I wear. And the buruntse by scarpa? goes to size 50 which is a 15 US. I am thinking of getting that if I can try one on. I wear 15's. but tend to get cold feet. I wish I could find a pair of the newer lt wt single Mt boots in 15. No luck so far. I am still using REI Leather boots made by Richle. Any Leads?

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