Setting Sail for Waddington: From Bellingham, WA to Scar Creek, BC

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You may remember the story in frequency TSJ #8.2 about a group that set sail for Alaska’s Mt St Elias with the goal of climbing and riding 18,000 feet back to the ocean. Well, the same core crew has set sail for BC’s Mt Waddington–the highest peak in BC’s Coast Mountains–to attempt a circumnavigation of the peak, summit, and ride some mind-bending couloirs along the way. Our first correspondence from Captain Steve Hyatt:

The Plan:

Our group assembled successively to the town of Bellingham, Washington where we made our departure early on April 26th from Bellingham Bay. Our team, composed of five members with multiple objectives is en route to The Butte Inlet, the terminus of the Homathko River and the start of our overland journey towards Mount Waddington, crown of the Coast Range. Our transport, the sailing vessel Resolute, a 44 foot Newporter ketch boasts all capability of travel through the southern reaches of the Inside Passage to our destination.

Group missions will be divided. The ski/snowboard mountaineering sector will consist of Dave Ghan, Taylor Woodward and Ryan Kapes. Their hopes are to ski the northwest summit of Mt. Waddington and circumnavigate the massif clockwise while skiing other major objectives in the Tiedemann Drainage. The climbing-specific group is held together by Steve Hyatt, captain of the Resolute and trip leader. Adam Lawson will be sharing the sharp end with Steve as partner for an attempt at the Southwest Face of Waddington as well as new route development in the Dauntless Range.

Distance proves the biggest obstacle in access to this huge unique range as number crunching shows upwards of 50 miles in approach with pack weight pushing 150 pounds per person. We will be equipped for 24 days unsupported from the boat in a purist expedition style of aesthetics.

Updates will be via satellite phone, trying for twice weekly briefings on trip progress. Help from Black Diamond, Leavenworth Mountain Sports and Cascade Designs have made this trip possible.


April 27th: We are 125 miles north of our starting point, approximately half way up Vancouver Island. A gale is approaching from the South but winds are favoring speedy travel northwards. We are trying to time a weather window slated for the first 3 days of approach, dodging coastal brown bears and incessant rain. Hopes of finding a dock at the mouth of the Homathko River will speed transition to rickshaw travel down logging roads. With morale high, we hit our last habitated stop in Comox, BC. All is well.

April 29th: Have made it to the Homathko camp at a guy named Chuck’s house. We took the Resolute three kilometers up the river to a dock where the boat will be moored for the next three to four weeks. At points there was less than three feet of clearance from running aground in the river mouth. Everything is packed and the average pack weight per person is about 195 pounds. We have five days of weather window for the push to base camp. The surroundings are dramatic with glaciers cascading down all around us and abandoned logging infrastructures everywhere. We get shuttled three miles up a tributary to the main road where the 25 mile trudge starts to Scar Creek.”

And Dave Ghan’s take on April 29th: “We made up the inlet. 200 lbs a person or backbreaking fun… We had a sweet dance party on the boat today. Five guys, awesome!”

Then more from Ghan today, May 3, via a brief satellite phone correspondence relayed through the intertubes: “We are 25 miles in at Scar Creek logging camp. Four or five bear sightings so far. All is well.”

Sounds like all is going as planned for now and the crew is in good spirits and focused on their objective. Stay tuned for updates as they begin climbing…


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