Monday, August 3, 2009

Monarchist's Cookbook

Hey y'all, I'm back! The expedition was loads of fun, and 2 out of 4 summited. Not bad at all for a first ascent, in my opinion! We were on the glacier for 5 days, all of which were bluebird! Ok, so here's the short story. Check back in with Marmot Mountain Works around the holidays for a slideshow date! That's where you'll be able to see all the pictures and get the real scoop!! We left the morning of Friday, July 17th to start the two day drive. Matt, Eric and I met up in Bellevue, and we picked Mike up in Bellingham on our way North. So there we were, 4 climbers in a full Suburban with skis on top trying to cross the border into Canada. Nice try, eh? They marched us inside for individual questioning. 2 hours later, we were back on our way. We stopped that night at about 2 in the morning to camp out at Williams Lake B.C. The campground host told us that he had the "best swimming hole in the whole country". We went to check it out, but it was fairly disappointing; it was a dirty eddy underneath a "danger no swimming sign" with a lump of packing styrofoam spiraling around in the current. We decided to pass and continue along. The next 8 hours of driving included a 100km of dirt road down the most precipitous, guard-rail-less stretch of highway I have ever seen. Once down in the valley, it was a clear shot into Bella Coola, and to Eagle Lodge, where we camped on the back lawn. The next day was a prep day, so we went and checked out the heli-pad, explored the area's granite walls, picked up some fresh smoked salmon, shared a few beers with and borrowed a radio from Fraser at Coast Mountain Lodge, and organized our gear and food for our flight out the next morning. We got up the morning of the 20th, threw all the gear back into the Suburban, and drove over to West Coast Helicopters where Pat and Richard helped us weigh all of our packs, duffels and bins, and get it all situated into the helicopter. Then we were off! In the air, flying over fields, then trees, then waterfalls, then glaciers, and granite for all of 10 minutes. We landed just a few hundred feet below the South Ridge of Desire. We made a deluxe base camp; we planned on spending at least a week there, and expected poor weather. We even had a pirate snow man. Later towards the afternoon, we roped up and went for a wander to scope out the approach to the ridge. It wasn't bad at all! We descended the SE glacier to a 4th class ramp which let us access the E. Ridge. What a view! We were all psyched to get on it for the real business climbing. The rock was solid granite, the ridge looked totally do-able, and we were totally pumped on actually making this project a reality. We scurried back to camp, ate dinner, and hiked up to the S. Ridge to watch the spectacular sunset. The next morning, we hit the ridge, and headed off! It was mostly simple simul climbing. There were a few steeper pitches in there, up to 5.7ish, but they were covered in grippy, 1/2" lichen. The terrain sailed by, route finding was pretty easy-breezy, a bit of hopping to one side or the other occasionally, but no biggie. At the end of the last gendarme, we finally got a good look at the headwall pitches. They were off vertical, and looked to be quite loose, and hard to get a protected belay. Eric and my guts both vetoed continuing, but Matt and Mike felt good and motivated as always, and so they pushed on while Eric and I began the descent. We didn't realize how committing our little ridge was until we tried to get off of it. It took 9 hours of business style down leading and down simuling, all of which happened in mountaineering boots. And some of which was in the dark. It took 5 rappels (all of our bail cord and all but one of our cordelettes) The last bit was definitely the most sporting; descending the sandy 4th class slab back down to the glacier in the dark, Eric without a real headlamp, and both of us in full TPU soled boots. Whew! Were we glad when we got back to camp! We were beat tired. Mike and Matt, having beat us back to camp by about 5 hours, passed out jetboil cup corn snow margaritas, and we swapped stories over the roar of the XGK stove that was melting water. Our third day on the glacier we went to do an off-shoot of the S. Ridge of Desire, which Mike and Matt dubbed "Manergy Ridge". Eric had a blistering sunburn, and my lead head was fried from the day before, so an hour into climbing we rapped to the glacier and headed back to camp. Day 4 Mike and Matt were still full of energy, so they went to go scope out the unnamed south peak of the S. Ridge of Desire and to see if they could continue on the ridge. Eric and I skied the SE glacier in swimsuits and packed up camp. Team energizer bunny returned back to camp at sundown to spicy chicken stew, having summited the peak all the way across the valley via a system of ridges. Day 5 we flew out early in the morning, and headed back to Eagle Lodge to dry gear, get showers (with I'd've remembered shampoo!!!!!), and share pictures. Then it was off to Coast Mountain Lodge to return the radio we'd borrowed from Fraser. After a quick visit, we hit the road and headed home, through a MASSIVE thunderstorm. No border troubles this time, thank goodness! I got home at around 6am Sunday morning, and caught 3 or 4 hours of sleep before the Mountain Rescue pager went off for a mission at Snow Lake, and I was ripped from my rest. The rescue self-resolved shortly after, and I spent the next 3 days eating.

~The End~

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