FAILURE on MOUNT JELDNESS 1405m 4610′
At just 1405 metres, Mount Jeldness should pose no difficulty for some of the KMC’s most experienced peak baggers. After all, we had within our ranks people Hiking CAMP 2 “The Fortunate” Trips Report who had summitted Mount Heinze, Mount Dundee, and Tamarac and Baldy Mountains to name but a few.
True, the day started inauspiciously with heavy rain pounding down and fresh snow above 800 metres, but we were fully equipped with all the accoutrements required for serious mountain expeditions. Our plan of attack was to start off the Old Cascade Highway just west of Sheep Creek and follow some old roads to a hydro-tower on the southeast ridge at 860 metres. From the hydro-tower we planned a direct assault on the southeast ridge. Not quite a directissima, but certainly a bold line and one that proved to be well ahead of its time.
Initially, we were thwarted by a private property sign and, being dangerously close to Christina Lake, home of the mega-grow-op world, where the grow-ops are infested by dozens of hungry bears, we chose to take a short bushwhack (good game trail) through woods to the gas line right of way where we were able to ford the gushing torrent of Santa Rosa Creek (OK, maybe it was just a trickle). We followed the gas line a short distance (seems to be part of the trans-Canada trail) before bushwhacking uphill to meet up with the power-line roads. For some reason, we seemed to be traveling uphill on these roads to the west instead of to the east as our maps would indicate; nevertheless we managed to get to just over 800 metres on old roads.
Directly above us, a minor drainage looked to provide access to the southeast ridge and we actually had an excellent game trail to follow and we emerged onto the ridge at about 950 metres. This ridge, which looks simple enough on the map and Google Earth – which does it’s usual excellent job of smoothing out all steep bluffs, cliff bands and other impassable nasties so that everything appears to be a walk in the park – was full of steep bluffs and cliff bands which disappeared into the thick fog that was swirling around us. Our BC Basemap indicated that a short traverse out onto the north side should enable us to surmount these bluffs, regain the ridge, and march triumphantly to the summit. Indeed, after thrashing through wet, slippery bush, we did surmount a minor bluff, and carried on gaining elevation to around 1000 metres where we bumped up against a continuous cliff band that wrapped around the mountain in both directions. We began a long and strenuous foray out onto the north side, but, no matter how hard we tried, we were repelled by the bluff. Dispirited, wet and hungry, we were forced to admit defeat. Undoubtedly, this is how Hilary and Tenzing felt when they approached the Hilary Step on Mount Evereest. However, unlike these two famous mountaineers we were unable to overcome this obstacle.
In the interests of expediency and safety we dropped down well below the bluff, and thrashed our way back to a bluff on the ridge where we stopped for a wet and fairly dismal lunch. Some of us began planning our next assault on the mountain, possibly by the true south ridge and of necessity involving an advanced back camp and additional climbing equipment – possibly additional climbers. A final thrash out on the north side brought us to our ascent drainage and game trail, and a final wet walk, complete with boot dunking in Santa Rosa Creek returned us to our vehicles.
Climbers: Sandra McGuinness, Peter Oostlander, Jen Kyler, Vicki Hart, Bert Ratcliffe, Ross Bates.