[time to contribute to some politard offsets and hopefully share a little stoke with some folks who might be coming down with a drumpf fever and/or the hitlery shakes]
i don’t know where to start... or if there is a finish.
or whether i will ever have all, or even most of the words...
this is in part because this isn’t the usual linearly trending i/we came, i/we saw, i/we conquered… still, i believe there is a story in here worth sharing... if nothing else for the stunning beauty that makes up the waddington range's all you can eat climber/skier-s smorgasbord: chamonix style granite spires and couloirs on one side, andean styled serac covered peaks on the other and all capped off with the dominating combo of both that the wadd herself is.
what i can say is that of all the trip/adventure-s i have been on in my life to date, this one packed more per hour, long-term residual punch than any other.
while i won’t bore with details, if i was going to, these would be some of the likely subtitles:
1. how two weeks, became 96 hours.
2. how spring, became summer.
3. how four sometimes, became one
4. how objective “failure”, became one of my deepest subjective “successes”.
5. and ultimately how four 24 hr periods ended up throwing me for a psychologic/emotion-al loop that took [at least] a few months to process and integrate.
i’m sure between the above and the photos you can fill in a lot of the gaps, yourselves...
instead, it will suffice to say, that due to a series of internal and external circumstances, i was only able to dip a toe into the ocean that is the waddington range.
and while it's taken me a little while to get to the following: i can not fUcking wait to go back...
so until the next time, here are some hopefully suggestive snapshots from what i hope was only a round one...
1.0 flying in: the waddington-combatant col with my compatriot’s camp looking like a couple of small boulders on the glacier below rainy knob [towards the left side of the image].
1.1 their camp from above.
1.2 heading back across the tiedemann after an [evening] start at getting a handle on conditions by skiing part way up the shoulder below plummer hut.
2.0 three amigo/a-s heading back from the w-c col
2.1 a foreshortened waddington from below the col
2.2 volunteering to be a human pin in an unlikely but still possible game of waddington vs combatant bowling
2.3 looking onto the promised land: separated from combatant’s great couloir by a continuous overhanging crevasse/schrund/serac
2.4 the crevasse/schrund/serac at the top of the col that in order to cross i would have needed a. a partner, b. steel crampons, c. a ladder, d. larger cajones or e. quite possibly a number or all of the above
3.0 the objective for the day, granelle mountain, is the peak to the left. the route we went up wove its way up through the crevasse and serac filled glacier at centre and then trended up the left heading ramp behind the foreground ridge.
3.1 finding what appeared to be the only bridge crossing an otherwise seemingly insurmountable peak traversing crevasse
3.2 instagram styled pornography: a bluebird day with waddington in the background and the combatant/tiedemann/asperity group to the right
3.3 head down, movin’ on up
3.4 a view of the summit of granelle from our turn around point
3.5 looking over the ridge onto the glaciated ocean that is the coast range
3.6 and now down...
3.7 and down...
3.8 now roped up and more down...
3.9 and finally across.
4.0 sunrise on the stunning [and regularly active] seracalicious north face of mt munday.
4.3 a shout out to our [non-existent] 4frnt sponsors.
4.4 and kickin' it 90s style.
5.0 400 or so metres above the valley floor waiting for the sun to rise and the surface crust to turn to corn [because underneath that crust remained an unfrozen mess].
5.1 corn tracks at 7 in the morning.
5.2 good bye new old friend.
5.3 uphill skate [downhill] skiing
5.4 the wadd. 2000m [6600 ft] of her relief in all of its glory...
5.5 a vacated camp and kicker
5.6 enough left over food to feed a small army
5.7 the return of the noisy mechanical mosquito tether
a few logistical nuts and bolts:
dates: april 27- may 1, 2016
costs: $880 + $300 + $100 = $1280 [helicopter + food and fuel + fuel for two vehicles from calgary = total/person]
weight: ~1350 lb [including four people]
Wow it looks like it was a great trip ! (Cut short ? To warm ?)
~ Lots of pictures ~ to bad you forgot your aluminum extension ladder!
( or not )
Great terrain ! Great pictures of that terrain
And proving what you said about 'posing' in the Slack-line of Vernal Falls thread,
We are all pro's now, the fly by advertising!
Are there more ' killin' it off the kicker' flying foot-boarded interlopers, pictures?
That is a rare, nylon coated, mostly flightless bird.
& you caught snaps of two in flight!, you should post it to the birds thread.
Somewhere I have an old issue of Summit magazine, covering Waddington.
the pictures & article, like yours are so enticing.
The hut logistics temperature fluctuation, good stuff.
Constantly Impressed. In brief.
For anyone who's curious, the granite peaks in the back ground of the second from last photo average 1500 to 2500+ feet in elevation once you've stepped off of the glaciers at their base. The photo is a presentation of typical foreshortening when you go climbing in the British Columbia Coast Range.
GCF: any old photos from that trip kicking around? or as the statute of limitations should be in effect, any "the rest of the story" styled vignettes you can now tell? regardless, trying to, in person, wrap my head around that traverse that you guys pulled off thirty years ago, was kind of like the first time i went to the bugs and tried to wrap my head around the free solo link up that was done by members of your crew... that line that you pulled off has to be one of, if not the most, compelling canadian traverses that i'm aware of. kudos.
Ghost: i can't disagree as that cirque is one of the most humbling places i've been. only other place in canada that gave me that feeling was looking over into the black hole between north twin, columbia and alberta... and don't worry i only climb at this point so i can post trip reports to balance out my recurrent politard tendencies. :)
pswitz: actually it was a different kind of committing. that kicker was kind of intimidating as the landing was a bit on the flat side and there was an iced up seat/wall you had to clear, so the first time was a bit nerve wracking... but, once it was built, it had to be done, right?
JB: that is one of the things about that place... scale in photos is very deceiving. to give others, another reference point, the waddington-combatant col at the center of photo 1.0 is ~1000m [3300'] above the tiedemann glacier at rainy knob in the foreground. that side of waddington is a trip because you are surrounded by walls of such consistent scale that it is a bit hard to understand how large everything is.
GOtD: thanks for the kind words... yep there are more where that come from... here's one more... hahaha:
kickin' it 80s style... aka grab a stick of juicy fruit...
in general: as i know there are [quite?] a few others of you, who are on this board and have been out there, feel free to throw down a story or photo, if you feel the urge... that spot is without doubt an earthly jewel of a place.
you know Tami, your short honest comment is part of why your presence on this board is a kick ass one…
when we drove back home everything we drove through [especially my main haunts rogers pass and the rockies] quite literally seemed like somehow somebody had in our absence come along and eroded and moved them further apart from how i’d left them... somehow they now seemed like rounded friendly and generously spaced hills in comparison to what i’d just been in the middle of and with respect to how they’d looked when i’d last seen them. and all of the colors seemed a bit duller after the sensory intensity of being in a place that truly made one feel like an ant surrounded by occasionally stampeding elephants and which resulted in downtown calgary somehow seeming to be a grey and mundane assemblage of structures made by and for unimaginative children. being on this earth after that experience was as if someone had suddenly taken the tilt shift lens off the camera and now everything seemed suddenly less intense and frankly a bit boring through the regular lens in comparison.
while i get minorly annoyed when climbers/skiers/etc talk about “missions” [it’s like really, this thing you’re doing by choice, and that only serves you, where in all probability you’ll be just fine, and where you can in most instances turn around/abandon at will, is a “mission”?] this was one of the few places where i wouldn’t have that issue.
which, in all honesty, is what makes writing this report tough. and is probably where i should elaborate more. but it’s hard to be honest without coming off either like you’re crazy, or you’re bragging, or you’re underplaying it… that place took 20 yrs of climbing for me personally to be able to be able to be psychologically “comfortable" with and due to conditions i was able to do things that i had no intentions of doing before we left. still, while there, i had some of the most intense/insightful lucid dreams i’ve had in my life and there was no question that almost every action we took was one fraught with potential consequence.
but that’s only part of what made this trip so intense. for me this trip was supposed to be a bit of a culmination. in the same way that when i was in my late twenties i accepted that the technical skiing bar i’d been personally pushing for a decade and a half probably wasn’t going to get moved much further i on some level expected this trip to be a bit of a plateauing “retirement” from this type/level of exploration for me. but that doesn’t seem to have been the case. while i didn’t “accomplish” a lot on this trip, my sense is that this was just another departure point from which to continue exploring my own potential… while time will tell, that combination of being [mostly] shut down at the same time that new doors seemed to have opened, all while being in an environs that truly was one, where i felt like a person could acclimatize for a time to, but that they couldn’t, or at least shouldn’t, hope to “stay” indefinitely in, was a heady combination of experiences to go through and then attempt to integrate.
anyway, if you [Tami] care to tell a bit more of your story [we scoped the fa you did on, i believe it was, munday] i’d be interested in hearing it…
and thanks to Brennan and Foweraker for delivering the goods… feel free to keep the near/way-back engines running, as godot knows this place is never hurt by more climbing content… :)
Great stuff. Inspiring. I dont think i speak just for myself by saying you would definitely NOT bore us with more detail. Can never get enough about trips to remote places, soul of the sport n all.
Im all ears.
ecdh… i appreciate your arrival on the st scene as you drop a lot of poignantly written and thought provoking stuff… because i appreciate what you write on here, i’ll endeavour to give you an honest answer, while keeping the blow by blow boring shIt to a minimum… rightly or wrongly, to keep this [somewhat] efficient, i’ll use the same outline as i threw down at the beginning...
1. how two weeks, became 96 hours:
a combination of weather and business opportunities that felt like i was trying to birth long planned for babies with two different wives at the same time, meant that the beginning of our twoish+ week window got squeezed, especially for me. and a combination of snow conditions, partner psyche, and personally exhausted interest in soloing meant the ending got squeezed.
2. how spring, became summer:
this one is pretty self-explanatory. we’d had friends go in spring, in years previous and it definitely seems as though spring came very early this year. as we flew in it was obvious that basically everything, even above 3000m had been consolidatingly baked. this is both a good thing and a bad thing for skiers. unfortunately the continuing to rise temps meant that in the long run it trended towards a really bad thing.
3. how four sometimes, became one:
this starts to get more to the heart of it. i had to relearn that climbing big mountains is 5% requisite skill and 95% confidence/desire to use said requisite skill [percentages are there abouts :) ]. basically what this meant was that while our group was very compatible in terms of fitness and technical ability, the psychological acclimatization levels were at very different places. landing at a spot where seracs/avalanches are going off sometimes dozens of times a day and where there are [as we quickly learned] almost no “easy” [and by easy i mean uncommitted] objectives, meant that as individuals within a group we had very different reactions due to our very different risk tolerances/acclimatizations/understandings. for me personally this did not turn out to be a bad thing and was why this trip was so “successful” for at least myself. and my understanding from my group mates was that they all got pushed to their maxes and so the trip was successful for all of them as well. and so in a kind of haphazard way i personally and honestly don’t believe that we could have had a better group to push all of us more efficiently in both collective and individual potentials.
4. how objective “failure”, became one of my deepest subjective “successes”:
the failure should be obvious. we didn’t summit anything and we left after four [myself] and six days [the other three had arrived two days earlier than i had].
for me the personal successes were [at least] the following:
to get it out of the way i’ll start with a can of worms… i started to better understand why and when i feel comfortable soloing on skis on glaciers. now, as i said, i know this is a can of worms and that’s fine. i respect that most are not going to have the same opinion as me and this is kind of like someone explaining that they’ve come to understand why and when they feel comfortable free soloing on friable rock [for a spell i free soloed at smith, so i come by that analogy honestly, hahaha]. i’m not going to get into the details and rationales for this as while i get that there is both intrinsic risk in this and it’s [for good reasons] a big cardinal rule in the orthodox climbing community, i’m not interested in starting a debate with all of the intardnets regarding it. that said i’ve been doing it for quite a while, and this was the first time that i really sat down and broke it all down so i could understand my own intuitive learnings through the years.
i more deeply accepted why i go on these types of adventures. i’ve been doing this since i was a kid. and by this i mean testing myself in environments that have consequence. i’m not there [just] to have fun, or [just] to achieve something, but mostly i go to these places, when the spirit moves, to see what some of my potentials are. and so for me i’m not a huge fan of “risk”. while i could head out to the bugs every weekend for months, the waddington range and places like it are places that are reserved [for myself personally] for those times when i feel like i am ready physically, emotionally and spiritually to continue the path that i have been on my entire life. that path was laid bare [again] in a dream i had the night before i attempted to solo waddington. given the nature of the uncontrolled directionality of the interwebs, that’s all i feel comfortable saying, at this point.
i gained a better understanding of what i need from and owe to a greater group if i am to solo in these types of environs. i also [hopefully] gained a better understanding of what it means to be a better contributing part of a conventional group in these types of adventures.
i learned that even in a state of total commitment i could listen to what i was being told and was hearing and i could turn around. i don’t think i had this “maturity” until recently. if i was younger i suspect i might have tried to force something on this trip… i probably also wouldn’t have had the psychological calmness to even attempt a lot of what i did, but that is the other side of the same coin. walking away, for good reason, from an objective which the night before i’d made my peace [regardless of its unlikelihood] of dying on, was incredibly confusing and jarring at the same time that it was empowering.
but probably the most important was in truly being okay with failure. this is basically an extension of the last point, but whereas the last point was more about the ability to turn around, this was more about the ability to even start something. it’s strange doing something that even some of your rope mates are obviously questioning a small bit of your sanity regarding and for which while you have every personal reason to believe it is possible, you, at the same time, also have no question that you don’t know. and there’s nothing more beautiful, imesho, in trying it anyway. this trip i attempted things, that as i mentioned, i had no intention of trying before the trip. and if the circumstances hadn’t of aligned themselves as they did, i wouldn’t have. but i learned more about myself, and my potential in a short amount of time, than i ever could have, if the originally laid plans would have been successful.
5. and ultimately how four 24 hr periods ended up throwing me for a psychologic/emotion-al loop that took [at least] a few months to process and integrate:
alright. this one is a. still to close to home to speak worded and objectively about, b. currently too personal, and c. even if it wasn’t, like Tami, i’m not giving this shIt away for free… hahahahaha!
but i’ll give you a very short version anyway... i separated from my partner of 20ish years, a year and a half a go; i had dreams during this trip that, while at the time left more questions than answers, were also obviously resulting from the un-resolved/integrated emotive; and i finally, also after 20ish years, have a business that is more sustaining to me than it is purely in need of sustaining... all of this combined with the intensity that i’ve described in some of the posts above has meant that this trip was the catalyst and turning point for a huge amount of personal directional change that i’m still working my way through...
anyway, thanks for all being personal psychoanalysts and hearing me out on a bunch of this… it’s been cathartic and your cheques are all in the mail [honest engine…]
and Tami. yeah, you kick ass… :) thanks muchly for what you just shared and wrote… i look forward to paying for your book [sorry i’m not going to give you an expectation break on just an article - that said it’s also fine if it’s a personal history told through toons… :) ]…
and if you start a kickstarter i promise to spring for the sticker and hat pack as well… :)
even the politards. :) don’t worry i promise i’ll be back to writing [political] screeds soon enough...
great stuff nah000. always valuable to have insights into the psyche where these things take place. exped climbing i think is a complete continuum between headspace and external space, one without the other doesnt happen. its one thing for a piss-n-vinegar 25 year old with a simpler, sponsored lifestyle to push out nails trips - another for those of us battered by the entropy of life to do so.
great too to see trips that done end in a long list of sponsors, grants and crowdfunded names and a go-pro 'film'. yes, im bitter that so little just gets climbed for the f*#k of it any more.
awesome to see Tami's parallel trip. Waddingtons just recently spiked my interest, so timely. theres a lot i have to learn and you folk provide quality perspectives, ie where gritty people go to do gritty things. i love the idea of places where just finding the BOTTOM of peaks is a real achievement. that these sorts of places confront us is the bit that matters, that we change is the stuff of life.
also, i note a fair quantity of carefully packed wine in that stack of food. good to see priorities in order.