A "Short Drive" Beyond Whistler
For Labor Day 2000 I ended up going climbing with Dan and Forrest, two Seattle
climbers who had been invited by Don Serl, BC activist and guidebook writer,
on a trip into the southern Coastal Ranges...
We left Seattle at about 3pm on Thursday afternoon, crammed into the front
of my truck. We met Don Serl and his four friends in Hope, where we
transferred Dan to Steven's Jeep to make a bit more room in my truck. We
carried on driving in the rain to some place beyond Williams Lake, deep in
the heart of the Canadian interior. Dan, Forrest and I all managed to sleep
in the back of my truck, mainly because they're both quite a bit smaller
than I am.
The following morning it was still raining we drove 50 miles down a forest
road to the trail into the mountains. Several hours later having driven
through huge mud troughs and massively rutted roads, forded a three foot
deep river and nearly rolled the Jeep. Having arrived at the drop off point
we re-packed and headed off up the nearest valley, bushwacking through fir
trees and over heather to get above the tree line. Navigation was difficult
as it was now snowing quite hard and we were in fog. After a couple of hours
we quit trying to get the whole way in to out original objective and settled
for a camp in the valley below Taseko Mountain.
The Saturday morning we got up at 5.30 to discover the skies were at least
partially clear. With the weather much improved, at least for a short while
we opted for an attempt on Taseko Mountain, 9232'. Having go up at 5.30 we
didn't actually leave camp until much later, "The crack of 8am" according to
Considering the weather and snow conditions we opted for the least ambitious
option which was to climb a variation of the existing line on the face
climbed by Don on the last visit. We did the North Couloir of Taseko, 1400'
50-60 degrees (from Don's description) Don Serl and co. had previously
climbed the left hand gully at the base of the couloir, mainly due to
difficulties crossing the long bergshrund and rockfall down the main couloir
.We tried the unclimbed but more direct main couloir having found a place to
cross the 'shrund.
We crossed the 'shrund at 11am and moved as a rope of three until Forrest
was on the face and reached the first screw we then ditched the rope in
favor of simul-soloing the route. Snow conditions didn't improve but didn't
get any worse either, 6-9" of soft powder over the ice. I dug an trench up
most of the first third of the route until the couloir narrowed and things
got a little more thought provoking... The couloir narrowed and we had to
climb a 80' section up an avalanche runnel about six feet wide and four
foot deep, not a good place to be should the snow above decide to move so I
stepped into the runnel at the last minute and dashed for the top so I could
step out of the fall line. It's amazing what the vision of a three foot high
wall of snow heading towards you can do to already tired calves.
Upward progress slowed a bit about 300' below the final rock step as one of
my ice tool picks suddenly became two inches shorter than it was supposed to
be. Climbing with a broken pick proved futile. By the time I'd changed it
Dan and Forrest had arrived at the top of a projecting rock a hundred feet
As we were heading up the final slope Don's head appeared above the lip of
the gully. Don, Gord and Steven had decided to do the normal route. The
final few hundred feet and short mixed section at the top turned out to be
pretty straight forward when all the snow was swept off. Don's appearance
turned out to be a real bonus as the weather had crapped out, we tagged the
summit and then followed their footsteps down the ridge to the descent
The following day we walked out, the weather had warmed up so no more routes
were on the agenda. The drive out took most of the day, including a short
detour to the ridge crest to look at the rest of the range. There's a whole
load of routes still to do if you can handle the approaches.
Taseko Mountain, North Couloir 3063 m (420m, 50-60°).
4th Sept 2000.
The route follows the major couloir directly below the summit (I don't
have a picture, the main summit is well to the left when looking up the valley).
The couloir is split in its lower third by a large rock buttress. We crossed the
bergshrund on the far right and continued up the right hand side, exiting
through mixed terrain to reach the summit plateau. The first ascentionists took
the left hand variation.