On Saturday July 19, 2003, Sandra and I completed the Nott Peak to Mount Dag traverse from a camp at the head of Robertson Creek.
From our camp, we followed an easy route over meadow, slabs, boulders, and talus to the summit of Nott, where we were treated to grand views to the north-west into Mulvey Basin as well as to the east to Dag. After scrambling down Nott’s easy east ridge, we moved onto the west ridge of Batwing. Initially we encountered class 3 scrambling, but before long out came the rope. After considerable whining and snivelling, we reached the easy upper section of the ridge (we climbed three 30 m pitches we rated at about 5.3); a short amble took us to the slabby and spacious summit. After some lunch we worked our way down the south side of Batwing to a point above the steep-walled notch with Little Dag (class 3). We rapped down into the notch, pulled the rope, and climbed out of the notch on the Little Dag side (class 4). Some more, mostly class 3, scrambling brought us to top of Little Dag. From Little Dag, we descended easy south slopes and then traversed across to the west side of Dag. From here, class 3 and 4 scrambling delivered us to summit Dag.
The sky was colored a strange orange by smoke from nearby forest fire that gave an eerie glow to the view. A descent of the easy broad ridge of Dag was followed by a 30 m rap that took us through the cliff band to the cairned and flagged standard ascent route of Dag, which we followed down to Robertson Creek and then camp.
A great day in the mountains on a very enjoyable, if technically easy, route.
For the full account of our trip, see http://members.shaw.ca/toquehead/valhalla/valhalla.html
Mt. Nott To Mt. Dag Traverse (maps Passmore 82F/12 & Burton 82F/13; all peaks on Burton sheet)
These peaks line the southern edge of Valhalla Provincial Park and overlook Mulvey Basin west of Slocan Lake in BC’s West Kootenay. The traverse, which involves four peaks, some minor roped climbing, and one committing rappel, is not hard but is time consuming. Never having done it and blessed with two keener novice twenty-somethings to carry rope and gear, I thought this might be worth trying as a day trip from Nelson.
On Tuesday, July 13th, we, Sacha Kalabis, Kyle Ridge, and Kim Kratky (an Old Goat), leave Nelson at a late 5:30 am and drive north up the Slocan Valley under gathering cloud. We then motor 12.3 km. up Bannock Burn FSR to the Mt. Gimli trail parking lot (1700 m, 5577′ 535-094). An older road leads off NE to our trailhead, but Sacha doesn’t want to drive his new Dodge pickup through the alder.
We set out at 7:45 am, youngsters carrying rope and hardware of course, and after 40 min. reach road’s end and the flagged beginning of our trail (539-098, 1887 m). In about two hours we reach a rocky alpine ridge extending south from the Wolf’s Ears (about 546-115); before us is Robertson Basin with our ridge traverse as a backdrop. We descend on snow a few hundred feet and easily plod up the first peak, Mt. Nott (2611 m., 8566′, GR 551-127), by 11:10 (3 hrs. 25 min. up). An easy walk down Nott’s east ridge gets us to the Nott-Batwing col, where we don harnesses and rock shoes under increasingly threatening skies. Two shortish leads on class 4 slanting ramps of excellent gneiss on the north face get us to the gentle upper west ridge of Batwing, as the acolytes get to do a lead and practice placing protection and setting up stations. Then, we plod to the 2643 m. (8671′) summit by 1:55 (557-126; 6 hrs. 10 min. up). Here, we hold a consultation as beyond lies a committing rappel; since the weather looks indifferently stable and we have completed the hardest climbing, we decide to go for it.
Next, we descend steep exposed ledges of Batwing’s east ridge to an overhanging brow above the Batwing-Little Dag col. A 10 m. rap gets us onto a slanting snow tongue about 20 m. below the actual col and on the south side. We then use the rope for the last time for a 5 m. diagonal ledge to access Little Dag’s southwest slopes. Scrambling up into an amphitheatre on grass, rubble and rock ramps, we bend right to gain the south ridge and follow it easily to the summit of Little Dag (560-125) by 4:05 (8 hrs. 20 min. up; GPSed at 2723 m. or 8934′).
After 5 min. on top, we descend the south ridge, easily gain the Little Dag-Dag col, and make a rising traverse right or east on easy, broken rock. As we near Dag’s summit, we pause briefly to let a storm spewing thunder and lightning pass over to the north. Then it’s on past a nesting ptarmigan to reach the cairned summit of Dag (2744 m.; 9003′) at 4:50 pm (9 hrs. 05 min. up).
Things are looking good as I write our names and route in the summit record tube. The lads have a look over the 4000′ north face, first climbed by Spokane’s John Roskelly and Roy Kligfield in 1971 (“Suite Judy Blue Eyes Buttress”) and only repeated, with variations, some three times.
Merely two worries remain: getting off the south ridge of Dag, which hasn’t looked trivial from below; and reaching the truck before dark, say by 9:30. Below the Dag-Little Dag col, we can walk down the broad gentle south ridge, following cairns to what we hope will be an exit spot. The only other time I climbed Dag was on Oct. 15, 1977, and my meagre records from those days say only that we had surprising trouble getting off it. Still, we find a huge cairn above a worn-looking 8′ chimney (“Kinda sketchy lookin’,” observe my colleagues), descend the chimney, work our way down boulders and slabs, and reach the grass of Robertson Basin. All right! Things are lookin’ even better.
We hike to the basin’s middle, stop by a creek as the sun goes down, have a quick bite, and re-fill water bottles. It is 6:35. Crossing the basin and climbing 300-400′ of snow, we reach the ridge we crossed 9 hours ago. Then it’s simply a matter of wending our way down a rocky slope and across grassy meadows to pick up the upper end of our access trail. A burst of energy surges through my fatigued body, and without further event we reach the truck at 8:55 pm (3 hrs. 50 min. from Dag’s summit) to round off a tidy 13 hour 10 min. day. Kyle and Sacha exult, “Best trip of our lives.”
I wedge myself sideways into the cramped back seat of Sacha’s crew cab for the ride home. Buoyed by jalapeno cheddar Doritos and Classic Rock 101 from Vancouver, we reach Nelson by 11:00. Best trip of the year so far.