Trip Report…..7 PEAKS IN 2 DAYS
Hmmmm…..My excuses? I’m not sure folks will find trip reports of scrambles, that are already described in Al Kane’s book, all that interesting? Somewhat akin to climbers reading a trail guide…but as I’m finding, not everyone on the list is a climber…#2 excuse….time. My wife berates me enuf about the time I already spend on the computer, let alone 2 days a week in the Mtns! However, I do enjoy reading about others adventures and to receive, one must give….so perhaps last weekends adventure is worthy of posting…..you be the judge.
To steal a few lines from Bob St John’s trip report, I haven’t climbed all the 11,000 footers either, nor have I written a guide book. I have completed all 102 scrambles in the 1st edition of Al Kane’s scramblers guide (a friend of mine has one left in the new, improved 50% more scree edition). I’ve also done a bunch of Volcanoes in Colombia and Ecuador….including xmas eve in the summit crater of Volcan Tunguarhua at 16,000 ft, which has since blown its top! I met Rick about 10 years ago at a winter cross country running event….I think I was bragging about how I had conquered Rundle and Cascade the previous summer, when Rick mentioned in a casual, offhanded sort off way that he’d only climbed about 700 or 800 peaks…..
Well, without further ado…….
Does one actually plan an Epic? Well in a detached sort of way, yes. Vaguely bored with my ho-hum existence of working (cog in the capitalist machinery) in the city, my brain dreams of putting all this weekly pent up energy towards some worth while, challenging activity.
On Monday, Kiwetinok, Pollinger and McArthur seemed like a good plan and by Tuesday, Kerr was added. Wednesday I was full of beans (the dark Colombian Variety) and added Isolated. But no….5 peaks in one day wasn’t quite enuf….after all, at $24 per night for the Stanley Mitchell hut, why not do a repeat of the Presidents (climbed 6 years ago from Emerald Lake) and get my money’s worth?
So after a week of daydreaming at work (I drive for Hi-way 9 and hey! I’ve only put ONE tractor/trailer on its side! 60,000 lbs of frozen compressed beef lungs being shipped to Ontario for dog food, so they can ship it back here and people’s mutts can shit in woods…..enuf of this tangent….this really is a climbing article!) my flexible and equally bored climbing partner, Vaughan Wallace and I, left the city at 3:30am last Friday to attempt an extended version of Outram’s Traverse in reverse. This was originally done from Isolated to Kiwetinok in 1901 and has know been completed by various parties, usually with the omission of either Isolated and/or Kiwetinok, judging from the register notes.
6 am…..Takakaw falls parking lot…..Vaughan downs 3 mugs of rich, oily java , one deposit of fecal matter (coffee, shit….GO!) and we’re off, careful to make enuf noise so the human’s in the campsite don’t mistake us for a couple of hungry bears (even if I did shit in the woods).
8 am…..Drop some gear at the hut and make a beeline for the south (higher) peak of Kerr, cutting around the north side of the steep buttress to the easier, loose west slopes. “99 bottles of beer on the wall” plays like a broken CD in my head: 1 down, 4 to go. Over to the north peak and down the loose ridge to the pass, only to rollercoaster up the otherside to Kiwetinok. Loose (what isn’t loose on a scramble?) exposed slabs to the left of the ice patch, then straight up through breaks in successive ledges of rubbles.
2 pm…..Down to the next “peak”, Pollinger, a mere bump on the ridge (3 bottles of de-alcoholized beer left on the wall….(I don’t drink, yet I managed to put a tractor/trailer on its side?!) and a steep but firm, 6 metre downclimb and then the death march up McArthur.
4 pm…..After pausing for an extended break, (3 extra minutesJ, to regain some energy), we detoured around someone’s pile of caca, 2 feet from the cairn (mutt poo from the beef lungs I dropped?) and proceded down the north ridge to the first level point on the Des Poilus Glacier. After roping up, we then enjoyed an easy ½ hour gaunt over to Isolated, dropping our gear for the 10 minute scramble up the dry, broad, west ridge. Possible 1st traverse of Kerr South to Isolated Peak?
6:30…..No de-alcoholized beer left on the wall (Labatts .5 is not bad if you don’t mind an aftertaste akin to cat piss….don’t ask)…..scree blast down Isolated and pick-up the meadows trail, arriving at the Stanley Mitchell just before 8pm. Whew! A 14 hour tip toe through the tulips!
A Las Vegas syle buffet and some R&R were what we were salivating for, unfortunately we had to settle for noodles in water (hey, water makes its own sauce) and the uncontrolled exuberance of a large group (16) of boy scouts. Also, adding to the wonderful ambience of this back country hut experience, was the fact that the hut was overbooked. Vaughan ended up on the lip of the stair hatch, while I crammed myself on the crack between 2 mattressesd proceded to kick the snorning, jerking body on the other side at timely intervals throughout the night. Kids horsed around, as large groups of pubescent boys are apt to do, and we got about 3 hours(maybe) sleep.
I voiced my complaints to the ACC and received a full refund. I was told they will book fewer bodies in the future in this hut. As for large groups of kids?…to bad. The clubs policy would appear to put profit over providing the setting for a quality experience. Kids with parents, no problemo…but large groups of unsufficiently supervised kids, in my opinion, would be better off in tents….they might even get a bit dirty and wet…not such a bad thing.
Saturday, 5:30 am……While the masses finally slept, we woofed down the obligatory oatmeal, while peering hesitantly out the window at the developing storm clouds. An hour later we set off, reaching the foot of the glacier in about an hour, where we roped up and carried on, all the while keeping a close eye on the deteriorating weather. After zigzaging arund a few large cracks, right before the col, we unroped and scrambled up the President, reaching the summit at 9:45. Vaughan’s first 11,000 footer! A stiff, cold wind periodically blew away the clouds to five us brief glimpes of the beauty around us and after a ½ hour, Fridays traverse was revealed. 50 minutes over to the VP.
(Here I will digress for a moment to address the issue of recording times, especially fast ones. Most people frown on the practice for their own reasons. I find that owing to the non-technical nature of scrambling and the accuracy of the route descriptions in the scramblers guide, that the time factor adds an extra element of physical challenge, which is an aspect that spills over from roadracing and trail running….ok I’m done)
After signing the register, Vaughan junped like he’d been bitten on the ass by a giant Pika and took off down the side of the mtn: He’d been buzzed with electricity! (at least he shit himself and not on the cairn as someone did on McArthur) A split second later I realized what all the excrement….I mean excitement was about as I felt it too…..not the poo, the buzz and dove over the edge in pursuit. After 10-15 minutes of hudling under an outcrop of rock and being covered in snow as the storm passed over, (there were no lightening strikes) we headed back up, grabbed our gear and beat it to the col in 5 minutes!
1:30pm. We’re back at the hut after a deluge of snow, sleet, hail and rain on the way down. A quick change of clothes, repack our gear and a tall glass of ice tea and we were off for an 11km hike back to “civilization” (…by the way, it took us two hours to cover the 11km)
7 peaks in 2 days!
And so endeth the gospel reading for today…..
So how did I find the time to write this sermon? At work of course….that’s right….drive and write at the same time. Well its better to crash and burn in the city and save the energy for the mountains
……Monday morning, back in the city….Grizzly attacks on Skogan Pass and Uncle Bill is invading Colombia, spraying herbicide on my in-law’s crops. I think my next composition will be a letter to Bill and Monica, or was it Hillary, inviting him along with his chief military advisors and spin doctors for a hike up Skogan Pass or the Nordic Centre.
So…..its back to my cage in the city…..”I’m a lone Rhinocerous, there ain’t a hell of a lot of us left in this world. I know the zoos (societal conformity) protect my species (climbers), they give me food, collect my feces (don’t be leaving surprises on the summit now!). I stand alone in my concrete cell (SE industrial area), where people stare and toss me coke cans. I guess its better than being poached (run over), but I’d give my heart just to see my homeland (The beautiful Rocky Mountains!!!)
Lyrics: Adrian Belew or King Crimson…..can’t remember which….
ENDORPHIN ADVENTURES STRIKES AGAIN!