CLIMBING CAMP 1994 HATTERAS GROUP
SUMMARY by Kim Kratky
Location: headwaters of Hatteras Creek, co-ordinates on 82K/14 Westfall River are 922-373.
Participants: Benoit Aubin, Ross Breakwell, Gord Frank, Kim Kratky, Knut Langballe, Pam Olson, Sue Port (cook), Larry Smith, Eddie Szczerbinski, Peter Tchir, Fred Thiessen, Peter Wood.
Day 1, Saturday, July 23
Squab Pk. (8,950′) via NE face (snow); descend NW ridge & glacier to N.; 2 1/2 hrs. up; 5 hrs for whole trip: Kim, Eddie, Benoit, Peter T, Pam.
Day 2, Sunday, July 24
Mt. Hatteras (9,750′) traverse; ascend N. ridge as for Kruszyna 1975 route (5 1/2 hrs. up); descend E ridge via very steep snow alternating with rubblely rock to Hatteras-Krinkletop col (1 hr.); thence via easy glacier to rejoin ascent route & to camp (2 hrs.); total day, 10 hrs.: Kim, Eddie, Peter T, Benoit, Ross, Pam.
Squab Pk.-Mt. Hatteras traverse; via NE snow face as above, then E. on rock to summit (25 m. of low class 5 climbing); 4 hrs. up; descend easy class 3 rock to Squab-Hatteras col, then via W. ridge of Hatteras (continuous class 3-4, rope required); 2 1/2 hrs. from Squab; descent as above: Fred, Larry.
Snowman Mtn. (8,950′); ascend ledges to ridge S. of peak, then via S. ridge; descend on N. to Snowman Pass & Snowman Lake, returning over alps and glacier to camp: Peter W., Gordon, Knut.
Day 3, Monday, July 25
Snowman Mtn. via W. ridge following Krusznya route of 1975; descent via S. ridge and W. face to glacier; Fred, Larry.
Squab-Hatteras traverse; same as preceding day except Squab ascended via W. ridge: Peter W, Knut, Gord.
Krinkletop Pk. (9,150′)-Snowman Mtn. traverse; from Krinkletop-Hatteras col (2 1/2 hrs. from camp); then scramble SW ridge of Krinkletop (1 1/4 hrs to summit); descend to N. & follow 2 km-long ridge; ascend S. ridge of Snowman via scramble (3 hrs. from summit of Krinkletop); descend as preceding party; return to camp via lower Hatteras Glacier; 11 hr. day: Benoit, Eddie, Ross, Kim, Pam, Peter T.
Day 4, Tuesday, July 26
To glacier below Arabesque Pinnacles (910-380): Sue, Pare.
As above and ridge to N. of Arabesque Pinnacles: Peter W., Knut, Gord.
Pirouette Pinnacles: Fred, Larry, Ross, Peter T., Kim #1 (8,600′); (909-367)–from Pirouette-Sugarplum col via E. face and diagonaling fight; thence two short leads of 5.1 to summit; one short rappel; 1 1/2 hrs. up from col w/four on a rope. #2 (8,700′); (909-368)–via rock of N. ridge gained from snow slopes; class 3-4 scramble on very good granite. #3 (8,950′); (909-371)–via easy S. ridge from #2 and over intermediate bump. Total day was 7 1/2 hours
Day 5, Wednesday, July 27
Pirouette & Arabesque Pinnacles: Fred, Larry, Pare Arabesque Pinnacle #1 (8,800′); (901-376); from S. & E. via gullys and ridge; rope used, probably 15 leads of class 4; no cairn on top, assumed to be first ascent; all of the peaks below had cairns. Arabesque Pinnacle #3; (901-380) scramble. Arabesque Pinnacle #4; (901-381) scramble Pirouette Pinnacle #6; (908-375) scramble Pirouette Pinnacle #7; (907-375) scramble on granite. Arabesque Pinnacles: Gord, Peter W., Knut. Arabesque Pinnacle #5 (9,000′); 901-383; the highest point. Arabesque Pinnacle #6 (8,900′); 898-383; NW on ridge from #5. Arabesque Pinnacle #7 (8,900′); 897-384; NW on ridge from #5; no cairn on summit; all were scrambles.
Sugarplum Spire (9,350′); S. to N. traverse; Eddie, Kim, Peter T., Ross.
Day 6, Thursday, July 28
Krinkletop Pk.; via SW ridge from Krinkletop-Hatteras col; returning the same way: Sue, Fred, Larry, Gord, Knut, Peter W.
Pirouette Pinnacle #2: Benoit, Pam
Day 7, Friday, July 29
Sugarplum Spire; E. face variation; ascend R. under minaret, just S. of rotten gulley; 12 hrs. return: Fred, Gord, Pete W .
Deluge Mtn. (9,150′); via glacier to Hatteras-Krinkletop col; gain ridge to S., then descend N. to glacier to bypass unnamed 8,750′ (943-338), reaching Hume Pass in 4 3/4 hrs; scramble to summit; 5 1/2 hrs. up: Ross, Benoit, Eddie, Kim, Peter T.
Unnamed 8,750′ (943-338); traverse; via snow from E.; 1 hr. 50 min. to top from Deluge summit; descent on rock to ridge NW; retrace steps to Hatteras-Krinkletop col & home; total day was 11 1/2 hrs: Benoit, Ross, Kim, Eddie, Peter T.
To lakes W. of Sugarplum Spire (902-357): Sue, Knut.
Day 8, Saturday, July 30
Deluge & unnamed 8,750′; via previous route except party traversed 8,750′ on both ascent & return: Fred, Larry, Pam, Peter W., Knut.
To Arabesque Glacier: Peter T. Cramponing on Pirouette Glacier: Ross, Eddie.
Pirouette Pinnacle #1; via SW ridge after visiting lakes at 895-360: Benoit. Pirouette Pinnacle #3 and rock buttress above camp (915-372): Benoit.
Day 9, Sunday, July 31
To Arabesque Glacier: Knut.
To lakes W. of Sugarplum Spire: Pare, Fred, Larry, Pete W .
Bouldering & rock climbing: Ross, Benoit, Eddie.
Arabesque Pinnacle #1: Gord, Kim, as per Thiessen route.
Lakes Peak (9,350′); via S. ridge; 10 hrs. return; scramble: Peter T.
NB: Arabesque Pinnacles (901-376 to 897-384) is not an official name.
SQUAB PK & MT HATTERAS by Fred Thiessen
Hearing of the snow route on the south face of Squab Peak, climbed by most of the camp on the first day of camp, Larry and I felt compelled to follow” this way we wouldn’t have to make new steps. While most everyone else went to Hattaras, we went to Squab, with thoughts of traversing to Hattaras after Squab. We went up the south face of Squab to about 40 m. below the summit where our companions tracks traversed over to the west ridge. At this point, the snow had melted enough that there was sufficient blue ice so we would have had to put on crampons. Thinking that going straight up would be easier, and would not involve crampons, up we went. Well, as is often the case in the mountains, it wasn’t. Fortunately the rock was good, and after a fair bit of route finding by trending to the east and one demanding pitch of rock climbing in plastic boots we gained the summit at about 1000 hrs.
By now we could hear our companions on the south ridge of Hattaras, so we decided to see if we could beat them to the top by going up the west ridge, even though they were a kilometre closer to the summit. The west ridge was a scramble, mostly on solid rock with a little exposure near the top. When we reached the top, to our surprise (not really), our companions were already on top. After a pleasant lunch, we went down the east ridge which turned out to be a very exposed snow descent for the first few hundred meters. Our combined parties reassembled at the Krinkletop – Hattaras col where we roped for our descent down the glacier.
Squab (Baby Pigeon) Pk, 8950′ & Hatteras Mtn, 9750′ July 24, 1994 Fred Thiessen & Larry Smith
SNOWMAN PEAK by Fred Thiessen
Looking for an easy peak on a quasi rest day, Larry and I tagged along with the Krinkletoppers, who were far to ambitious for us, until we were below Snowman Peak. At this point we headed north to gain the west ridge. The west ridge was a pleasant scramble on OK rock and we gained the summit around 1000 hrs.
This being a quasi rest day, we forayed no further, admired the scenery and ate all our lunch. It was most pleasant being in the area in good weather. Our last visit to the area was on our Rogers Pass to Bugaboo ski trip in poor weather and this was a fine opportunity to see where we had gone.
Since we were now out of food, we descended our up route and were back in camp in plenty of time to swat horseflies and have a leisurely bath.
Snowman Peak, 8950′, July 25, 1994 Larry Smith & Fred Thiessen
SUGARPLUM SPIRE by Kim Kratky
I’ve had it in my mind to write a completely honest account of a climbing outing, but I keep remembering that such things are either unwise or impossible. Most of the time more goes on during the ascent of a non-trivial mountain than ever gets recorded. Perhaps it’s not surprising that what we read in guidebooks isn’t always congruent with our own experiences. So with these thoughts in mind, I’ve tried to write a true narrative, at least from my perspective, of our climb of Sugarplum Spire at this year’s climbing camp.
I’d been keen to climb this peak since seeing it from our Nemo Group camp in 1979. Reading of the adventures of Hamish, Steve, and Paul on it as recounted in the ’92 Karabiner increased my interest. Finally, the name was intriguing. According to Place Names of the Canadian Alps, Professor Robinson of the first ascent party gave the peak its name because the summit crest was “frosted white like a cake.”
Now to choose a route. Most of the time, I’m content to climb a mountain by the easiest way, but something about a south-to-north traverse of Sugarplum, beginning with the SE ridge, impressed me as more sporty. A look in the Climber’s Guide showed me that the SE ridge was first done by a Harvard Mountaineering Club party in 1959 and repeated in 1975. The objective and route selected, it wasn’t too difficult to interest a few others, so at 6:00 am on Wednesday, July 27th, Ross Breakwell, Peter Tchir, Eddie Szczerbinski, and I headed off for the SE ridge of Sugarplum.
In two hours we plod up the Hatteras Glacier to the Squab-Sugarplum col at 8,300′. After a snack we start on the SE ridge which will offer 900′ of route finding and high quality scrambling to the first tower. From the beginning the climbing is strenuous over huge granitic blocks, and thought is required for route-finding. We’re all climbing in leather or plastic boots, and Eddie is having difficulties keeping up, not through lack of strength, but through lack of experience. Peter and I discuss that we are unable to establish a rhythm. That’s interesting, because I’m usually never conscious of having a rhythm on rock; it’s just there. As the ridge steepens we traverse left or west across a couple of grotty gullies and then up and back right to the ridge. By 10:00 we are at the top of the first tower; the ridge has never relented, but still we’re only talking about class 3 climbing. Stop here and you’d call it a pretty high quality KMC day trip.
Next we make an easy descent N. along the ridge and scramble the second tower. I’m beginning to think, “Hey, maybe we can do this in guidebook time.” That’s four hours from the col, according to the HMC account. In fact, I’ve carried a copy of the account, along with an update. It is to be my companion for a long day.
Descending to the notch before the third tower requires tricky moves on ledges down into a nasty gully on the left or west side of the ridge where we search for a route out. This turns out to be a chimney that starts not far down the gully and leads back to the S. ridge. Now we’re on the third tower and still haven’t roped up; Ross and I, the two with rock shoes, still haven’t put them on. I observe that all along our route we have seen lots of rappel slings, and the climbing hasn’t even gotten serious yet.
From now on, though, we are in gendarme country. How many are there to traverse, down climb, avoid, or bypass on the way to the summit? Ten? Fifteen? Twenty? Don’t count, just do it. Time to rope up and put on the dancing shoes. I get the first lead, descending an unpromising chimney on the R. and then clambering up and over large blocks to make a long, descending traverse across a gully on the left side of the ridge. Talk about rope drag. I finish off by stepping off a little platform and down and around to the right to a secure station. Wuff! What did the guidebook say? “Pass the gendarmes, class 5.0.” The hardest 5.0 lead I’ve ever made.
The next, much easier lead takes us up a broken face and onto a fiat, blocky part of the ridge. Peter is looking for rappel stations to get down into the last notch before the summit tower, but it looks awfully far down there on the left side. Besides, we haven’t even seen this minaret the guidebook goes on about. Searching for another exit, I take a lead from the far N. end of the ridge where a block is wedged against a wall. It’s impossible to climb over this, so I descend to the R. about 60′ and then traverse to the L. on a ledge and a wobbly block to another secure station. Once again, I continue our procedure of bringing the next two over on a fixed line, followed by the last climber who gets belayed while cleaning the route. We seem to have fallen into this four-on-a-rope routine, which seems a good idea, especially since Eddie is inexperienced on a mountain like this one.
We scramble up a nasty little chimney to a ramp (unroped) and are treated to a view of the truly “spectacular minaret.” No time for gaping, though. The afternoon is wearing on, and we’ve got a rappel to set up to get into the last notch. One 80′ very clean rap gets us into the left-side gully. Staying on the left side of the ridge, we cross the gully, ascend an obvious ramp to the left and then traverse left, all unroped. Heading up again, we reach a huge, lichen-covered block that denies all access to the summit tower. I scramble up to the top of the block, which turns out to be the S. ridge again–only here it’s a knife-edge. Gulp. Hope I can get off this thing. I don’t think I can retrace my steps. Luckily, I’m able to shinny down the other side. Here, I discover two things: the others can traverse a horizontal crack halfway up the block to reach me; and just beyond and to the R. of the block are easy dirt ramps that lead to the summit. The first ascent party didn’t find this easier route and ascended a chimney on the L. side of the ridge.
For our third and last lead, Peter belays me down a thoroughly unappetizing shit gully with an eye-popping run-out on the east or right side of the ridge (Fred’s party ascended this gully from the rocks and glacier below). Then I gingerly put in a piece of “pro,” ease around a comer, and ascend some easy blocks and snow to just below the summit. Once again, we use the fixed line-last climber belayed routine. As the others come up, I stagger to the summit–it’s 6:17 pm; that’s 12 1/2 hours from camp. Groan. What did the Guide say? Four hours from the col? What were those guys doing, flying? Well, let’s just make sure it’s only a low-grade ordeal and not an epic (n.b. — Thiessen’s taxonomy says an epic begins only after the twentieth hour; a low-grade ordeal is in the 14-16 hour range).
On top we enjoy a quick handshake, and Peter and I muster our strength to deliver the KMC war cry, a booming “a-s-s-s-h-o-l-e” that we later learn is heard in camp. Now to get off this damn thing. We’re certainly not going to retrace our steps. We’re heading down the NW ridge and back to the Sugarplum-Pirouette col NW of our peak. I smooth out my crumpled two pages of Xeroxed guidebook and read, “This route is the easiest on the mountain, but crossing the west-face couloir becomes harder as the snow cover disappears. Glacier (III, 5.0, s).”
Pete and I downclimb the ridge and set up a 75′ rap. He stays to man the station, and I continue down to scout out a route and find the “west-side couloir.” I reflect on Jackson Browne’s “Runnin’ on Empty.” Not quite at that stage yet, but I do have apprehensions about crossing the couloir and getting off this thing while it’s still light. Too, the mental fatigue is really beginning to tell. So many route-finding decisions are starting to take their toll. I descend to something like a playing field and then veer left into a wide, dusty ramp or gully with tricky down climbing. Farther down, I find the west-side couloir, but it doesn’t look easy to get into or out of. It’s cliffy on both sides. I wait for the others to join me. Where’s the snow that’s supposed to be in this gully, making it easy to cross? We follow our ramp downward (grit on slabs, nasty third class stuff, especially when you’re tired) till it ends in cliffs overlooking a series of lakes. Directly across the Duncan from us in the fading light are Laidlaw Creek and Gobi Pass, home of our 1987 camp. Sure would like to be off this thing. Just concentrate and let it unfold. After all, it has all day. Forced off our ramp, we do an 80′ rappel into the couloir onto steep snow. Below, we move right and into a dry watercourse. Finally, we reach easy grassy ledges on the R. and descend to snow and boulder fields.
Yes, off the mountain. All we need to do now is put mind in neutral, traverse N., ascend to the Sugarplum-Pirouette col, and plod, slither, stumble down the Pirouette Glacier and moraine to camp. We do this in more-or-less good order (as it was nearly dark and I was behind, my colleagues couldn’t see how many times I fell down in the snow) and arrive at the cook tent at 9:30. Larry and Sue have gallantly stayed up to nourish us with some hot food. End of day.
Summary of the trip: Time to summit: 12 1/2 hrs. Return time: 3 hrs. Total time: 15 1/2 hrs. Roped climbing: three leads of up to 5.3 difficulty Rappels: three–one on ascent, two on descent Earle Whipple gives this route one star. It deserves it.
Sugarplum Spire, 9350′, July 27, 1994 Ross Breakwell, Kim Kratky, Eddie Szczerbinski, Peter Tchir
SUGARPLUM SPIRE, EAST FACE by Fred Thiessen
Having heard of the time commitment and the trials and tribulations of the Kratky party on the south ridge, and not being too fussy about the south ridge, some of us were looking for an alternative route on Sugarplum. Being one of the more spectacular peaks in the area as well as the dominant peak visible from camp, there was a certain appeal to it, if only there was a shorter route. In the after dinner discussion on the 28th, Peter Wood, Gord Frank and I decided a look at the east face was in order.
This approach appeared to have the least amount of rock climbing and with any luck, we could be back in camp before dinner. Larry Smith declined our invitation on the basis that a “look” on an official rest day could lead to exertion, dehydration and missing the afternoon bath.
From camp, the approach to the east side of Sugarplum was straightforward, the moraine was tolerable, the crevasses were navigable and by 0900 hrs we were at the base of the mountain, below the minaret, just south of the summit.
The route looked OK, although a bit loose at the beginning. As it turned out the route was OK, it took a reasonable amount of route finding on fourth and easy fifth class to gain the ridge in three full leads. The climbing could best be described as mixed. Some pitches were very enjoyable on good rock and some other pitches had quite loose rock. Since we only had one rope for the three of us, it took us until 1300 hrs to gain the ridge, where we immediately found the tracks of the Kratky party in the dirt on the west side of the ridge.
We snacked here, and followed the ridge to the summit for a more substantial lunch and a rather smoky view of the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains.
The descent was as per the guidebook description: down the ridge for a bit, holler at camp, do a rappel and angle down the steep slabs on the west face, while trending in a NW direction. We ended up doing 3 rappels, however I believe the Kratky party only did one. From the base of the slabs we traversed around to the north col, traversed the glacier and glissaded to camp.
We missed appetizers and soup but did arrive in time for the entree. Larry was right: our “look” did turn into an ascent, we were very dehydrated and missed our baths. Reflecting on the choice of routes on the mountain, I believe that the descent route would likely be one of the more pleasant ways of ascending the mountain. It would be a high grade scramble with some roped pitches on solid rock.
Sugarplum Spire, 9350′, East face, July 29, 1994 Fred Thiessen, Peter Wood & Gord Frank
LAKES PEAK by Peter Tchir
Each year it gets harder to leave the comforts of base camp and go to a high camp or bivouac. As we climbed in the Hatteras area this year, we continually debated a high camp at the lakes beneath the high, rubblely pyramid of Syncline Mountain far to the north. But it just never seemed worth the effort. So there I was with the camp nearly complete, the local peaks (except for hard rock climbs) all done, and Syncline and the Valley of the Lakes still out there beckoning. Since no one wanted to come, I decided to go alone with the reduced objective of Lakes Peak, the smaller and (hopefully) easier peak that, from our angle had always been difficult to pick out, as it stood on the ridge in front of Syncline. It would probably be less technically difficult and, being a bit closer, would make for an easier day.
So I left camp about six o’clock … or was it five o’clock? (I can’t remember, and that’s why it’s nice to climb with Kim … he’d know.) I followed the well-trodden route past the swimming hole, crossed below the Squab Glacier, descended to and cramponed across the snout of the Hatteras Glacier, scaring up a dirty goat on the moraines along the way. The first part of the traverse around the west side of Snowman Peak was easy travel on meadows, but the last part on the northwest side leading into the Snowman Pass area was a nasty bushwhack. (Every camp should have one.) From there it was meadows that led on to a broad ridge running southwest, which took me to the sharper, higher ridge that is the divide of land leading south from Lakes Peak.
This next portion of the trip was a pleasant ridge scramble, reminiscent of the Krinkletop-Snowman traverse that we did a week earlier at the start of the camp. Staying on the ridge, with occasional route-finding on the northwest side, eventually led to the col beneath Lakes Peak.
Here the ridge ended and I was confronted with the west face of Lakes Peak, which at first looked so daunting that I had thoughts of not being able to climb it. Despite the smokey haze of last summer, there was compensation in the view below me of the two large lakes in the Valley of the Lakes and the spectacular view back to the glaciated range of peaks running from Mount Hatteras to the unnamed peaks (Arabesque Pinnacles.) From the col, the steepening shale slopes led up to the face, across which a ledge seemed to angle up from fight to left. I decided to check it out and found it wide and gently sloping. It was a good route until it reached a spot with a large cantilevered block, where it seemed to switch back to the right (south.) I followed this switchback up to the south side of Lakes Peak and very nearly to the top of the ridge. But the last bit had no route that was easy enough to try on my own, so I continued around the south side until I came to the glacier that leads high up the east side of Lakes Peak. This glacier is probably the route that is normally used when the peak is climbed from the Valley of the Lakes. However, the slabs leading down to the glacier were dirty and the steep snow unattractive, as I had left my ice axe back at the Hatteras Glacier. So I turned back and followed the ramp back down to the cantilevered block on the west face. There I found a smaller gully and ramp system leading upwards along the fight-to-left line of the original ledge. I had missed it before because the switchback was more obvious and promising. This system lead me quickly to the low point on the ridge just southwest of the summit, which I then reached in an easy scramble a few minutes later.
The whole trip along the ridge and the final section on the face had been fine scrambling and enjoyable route finding. I think I reached the summit about eleven o’clock (wish Kim had been along.) The other side of lakes Peak leads easily to a col at the base of Syncline, a short distance away. The route up the southwest ridge of Syncline looked awful … ledges with lots of broken rock on them … but mostly not difficult. I am sure that, had we planned for it, we could have easily done it from camp in a day. But I was not inclined to try it by myself, being so far from camp.
On the trip home, I retraced my route, with some nice rest stops beside streams and small ponds in the meadows leading down from the pass between the Hatteras Creek drainage and the Valley of the lakes. By staying a bit higher I had easier bush while rounding Snowman Peak. I again used crampons to cross the Hatteras Glacier. After a short stop at the swimming hole, I was back in camp at the surprisingly early time of four o’clock (I think.) It was a worthwhile trip: a chance to travel meadows instead of the glaciers found on all other approaches at this camp, and a chance to be alone again in large and distant mountains and to experience again the intense feelings that happen to me when there is no one to talk to, no one to help make decisions and no one to depend on.
Lakes Peak, 9350′, July 31, 1994 Peter Tchir