MT TYRRELL 2820m 9,250′
Map: 82K/2 Lardeau
Paul Allen, Steve Horvath and I spent three days in this seldom-visited area from Tuesday, June 3rd, through Thursday, June 5th.
After a flight from Johnson’s Landing got us to the alpine, our base of operations was a small lake at 7,150’ (161-421) about 1.5 km. west of Tyrrell.
We set up camp in our larch-studded, snowy basin and headed out at 1:00 pm to ascend a rocky, flat-topped 8,550’ peak (167-426) to the northeast. This we climbed via the south ridge, making three half-leads on good rock of up to 5.4 grade. Reaching the summit at 3:30, we built a cairn but did not put in a record as we had left the packs at the col below.
On return, we down climbed the upper portion, then finished with one 25 m. rappel. Back at camp by 5:50, we remarked on the good weather and the excellent snow quality, two concerns we had about such an early season trip in relatively big mountains.
Wednesday, we delayed our attempt on Tyrrell until 8:20 as the snow was very hard and we had no crampons. From camp, we ascended east on snow to an 8,250’ col (169-423) and made an easy transition on snow to the wasting glacier north of our objective. By 11:00, we were at the base of Tyrrell’s north ridge (165-420). This had looked quite easy from the glacier below, in contrast to the northwest ridge and north face. However, it proved to be quite challenging in early-season conditions. After we had one easy lead on snow, Paul did three strenuous leads on mushy snow and slimy, lichen-covered rock, all with substantial exposure on the east. We rated this at 5.5 but conceded that it would probably go at class 4 in August.
Topping out after three hours, we rested precariously on the tottery, blade-shaped summit and inspected the impressive cairn for a record. A thorough search revealed nothing, so we left a KMC tube. While enjoying views of Pambrun, Lees, Clutterbuck, Toby, Hamill, Truce, Cauldron, etc., we debated the return route as none of us relished repeating the north ridge. However, the devil we knew looked much better than the others, so we down climbed it in three hours, finding it less daunting than expected. Off the mountain at 5:30, we re-traced our steps to camp in one hour for a tidy 10 hour 10 min. day.
Thursday, we walked out, again delaying our start because of snow conditions. Away at 9:20 with heavy packs, we passed through an 8,250’ col at 151-412 and descended on rotten snow to finger lakes at 145-412, which we followed to their outlet by 12:50. We continued west on indifferent, break-through snow over tiring ups and downs to reach a northwest tending ridge at about 6,200’ and due east of Birchdale. We followed this northwest, then descended west on gentle, open slopes (no snow now) until cliff-bands forced a detour south in unpleasant timber. Lower down, we followed Smallfry Creek north to reach the Birchdale Trail just above the lakeshore.
By 6:30 we reached the Birchdale dock, where Paul’s brother-in-law picked us up in his boat, something we had arranged in advance. Not quite The Walk from Hell, but a nice, tiring nine-hour jaunt. It made me appreciate Steve and Hamish’s three-day walk from the Mt. Stone area to Duncan Lake a few years ago. In sum, it was an excellent outing, with one first ascent and a climb of a peak we had been dreaming of for 20 years or so.