Kate Rutherford- Perfect in BC

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Perfect Rock & Perfect Weather Mt. Tiedemann, British Columbia, Canada

By: Kate Rutherford, Photos: Mikey Schaefer 

The weather was perfect. We landed on the glacier and the next morning we made a huge breakfast and packed for four days. We walked out on to the glacier. Mt. Tiedemann, 3838 m (12592 ft) one of the high peaks in British Columbia's Coast range. This became the object of Julia Niles and my desire a mere six days before standing before it. 

Mikey Schaefer and Micah Dash had encouraged us to come, wooing us with tales of Karakorum like rock just 10 hours north of Vancouver. Unable to resist, Julia took time off work, we bought way too much food and we were on a Blue Bell Jet Ranger with expert chopper pilot Mike King. 

Micah and Mikey had big plans to climb Mt. Combatant via a new route up the huge and gorgeous Incisor. Julia and I thought we might as well climb the mountain next to theirs, Mt. Tiedemann. Julia and I headed up Mt. Tiedemann's southern buttress, finding awesome unclimbed splitters to the right of the Direct South Buttress route. 

Noon the second day found us climbing exposed wide cracks on the skyline ridge. This was our first view of Mt. Combatant and it came with yells from the boys. We answered with hoots and hollers, we were having a blast. After way too much yelling, we came to the conclusion that they were calling for help. Twelve rappels later, a glacier slog to reach the radio and a slog back, we found Micah with a broken heel and a sprained ankle. We carried him on an ice axe throne a few hundred meters to a flat spot, and just like that our rockstar chopper pilot, Mike King came and carried him off to proper medical care. As we made our way back across the glacier, we were gloomy but relieved, now we were a team of only three. 

We weathered a five day bout of wind and snow and then received the crystal clear weather forecast. We headed back to Mt. Tiedemann. This time we went for the line of least resistance up the Direct South Buttress in a team of three. Tiedemann Tower, a perfect pyramid, has a million splitters, and the choose-your-own-adventure style had us laughing all day. At sunset, after 17 pitches we were excavating a perfect bivi on the backside of the tower. With Mt. Waddington across the glacier glittering blue and gold against the deep purple perfect cloudless sky and rumbling of avalanches swept us to sleep. 

Tower Two proved to be awesomely steep, lots of 5.10 and a beautiful ridge to a snowfield. Mikey and I, mere rock climbers, sent super alpinista Julia up the mixed climbing and she led us up to another great bivi. We built a small snow and rock wall to support the four by six BD First Light tent and all snuggled in.

The third morning we started up the final tower shivering in our boots, but quickly needed rock shoes. Relief came when the third pitch was in the sun. Pitch four was a previously aided section that I freed at 5.11, perfect tips to hand jams in orange rock. We climbed superb cracks to a roof with chicken heads and then flew up the 5th pitch to the summit. With a spectacular vista we ran along the summit ridge and descended to the west, avoiding the recommended gnarly descent to the east, which has turned in to a dangerous icefall.

We spent a final night at the Chaos Col, between Combatant and Tiedemann, reveling in the brilliant climbing. We called the chopper pilot, letting him know we planned to go up and over Combatant and have him pick us up at the Waddington col. Half joking we asked if he wanted to pick us up at the Chaos Col…… and he did! After a quick stop in at base camp to throw our stuff in, we were skinny-dipping in the lake at the helli-pad a half hour later.

...after 12 weeks of gimping around Micah Dash is off crutches and training in the Red River Gorge for huge expedition plans in 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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