Monday, 19 March 2012

It's a race to the finish, but wait, what am I finishing?

The first two posts on my new blog were somewhat inspired in nature. Having just returned from climbing in Argentina, and subsequently enjoying a few amazing days on skis, I was feeling pretty darn enlightened.  It's now been two months since Argentina, and the ski season is winding down (not that it ever really got started here in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor). The south coast rainy season is finally catching up with me, and I've been experiencing a bit of a slow down in my otherwise incessant psyche.

I'm always caught off guard when my mojo falters. I have an incredible tolerance for living my life at a frantic pace. When, for a week or two, all I want to do is complain and watch movies, I naturally start to wondering if I've hit the perverbial wall and will finally fall in line with what I'm, "supposed to do" -- making money, saving money, spending money.

Case in point. At the crag, but the best I can do is read the Economist?! Rich's  photo.
I was a late bloomer, I think. I only recently discovered Pink Floyd. Yes, I do realize that I *should* have discovered this band in my teenage years whilst smoking lots of pot and generally defying authority. I think I was too busy listening to the Beach Boys, and riding horses <roll eyes here>. No seriously! Regardless, when I most recently found myself in this chocolate eating, Economist reading funk I came upon a Pink Floyd song I'd not heard before. Given that this was one of the most epic songs, from one of the most epic bands of the 20th century, it is almost certain you have heard this song already. But for me, this discovery was a mental awakening of sorts, a kick in the pants, you might call it. The song, Time, from the Dark Side of the Moon album gave me goosebumps. I had found my life's mantra. Pink Floyd had put to words something I have always felt, and always feared...

"Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day 
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way. 
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town 
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way. 


Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain. 
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. 
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. 
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun. 


So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking 
Racing around to come up behind you again. 
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older, 
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death. 


Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time. 
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines 
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way 
The time is gone, the song is over, 
Thought I'd something more to say."   
That's it, that's exactly it, why am I living my life in preparation to die?! Am I going to wake up one morning after 20 years of toiling away at a desk in an windowless office, eating too much chocolate, only to realize that I'm too weak to chase after my dreams?

I had a Facebook message from a friend not too long ago -- "thank you Facebook. I knew you served a valuable purpose other than wasting hours of my life that I'd never get back looking at news updates from my now, 192 friends baby!" -- Jasmin wants to go to Waddington this summer, climb some old routes and maybe try a few new lines. And just like that, I'm back on the train, it's bombing down the tracks, and I'm living life at 300 miles an hour -- mostly because the train I just jumped back on is indeed a German engineered fast train travelling from Paris to Zurich. Sweet!

The Waddington Range includes British Columbia's highest mountain, Mt. Waddington (4016 m), but the ranges most miraculous feature in my mind, is it's proximity to Vancouver! It's a mere 292.4 km's (this is according to the coordinates calculator I found on the internet so I apologize if my distance is slightly off) from this bustling metropolis of 4 million people. The fact that this area sees so few visitors each climbing season is a testament to it's inaccessibility, and technical, glaciated terrain.




Is this the way to Mordor? Mt. Waddington's south face. John Scurlock's photo.
The Waddington Range (A) is found at the head of Knight Inlet. At 125 Km long, it's one of the longest inlets on the British Columbia coast.

So what, do you ask, am I proposing to climb in said extreme mountain environment? Good question, I don't know yet, the options are many. We'll almost certainly basecamp somewhere on, or off, the Tiedemann glacier which gives access to the south faces of Combatant (3756 m), Tiedemann (3848 m), Asperity (3716 m), and Serra's 1 through 5. Just looking at photos of these mountains gives me chills (a somewhat confusing combination of all out psyche and sheer terror)! These faces are big, and in fact, the best Alpine climbers in the world come to the Waddington Range to test their skills against perhaps, the most Himalayan mountains outside of the Himalaya? 

A map of the range showing the Tiedemann Glacier where the majority of the Alpine rock climbing takes place.
Below is a series of photos, the majority of which are taken from John Scurlock's, "Mountain Aerial Photography" website. Colin recently introduced me to John's site, which is an incredible Alpine climbing resource to say the least. The remainder are various bits and pieces from the internet. The intent of the photos below is more an exercise in getting to know the range, and why not document my knowledge gathering here on my blog?

Looking at the south faces of Combatant, Tiedemann, and Asperity from the Tiedemann Glacier. Taken straight from Alpinist.com where Jia Condon published an article about a new route he completed on Tiedemann with the late Guy Edwards; Southwest Bartizans (V 5.10 M4, 1400m),  "The Combatant-Tiedemann-Asperity Wall. The summits from left to right are Combatant (3756m), Tiedemann (3848m), Asperity (3716m), and Serra Five (3642m). Routes shown are as follows. 1 Perseverance (VI 5.10c A2/3, 1000m, Cusick-Kearney, 2000) 2 Belligerence (VI 5.11 A3+, 1200m, Child-Collum-Mascioli, 1994) 3 Southwest Bartizans (V 5.10 M4, 1400m, Condon-Edwards, 2002) 4 Southwest Buttress of Tiedemann (V 5.8 50°, 1450m, Collum-Gherson, 1983) 5 South Pillar of Tiedemann (VI 5.10+ WI3, 1400m, Green-Richardson, 2000) 6 South Face of Tiedemann (IV/V 5.7 A1 45°, 1400m, Herchmer-Serl-Wittmayer, 1976) 7 South Buttress Integrale (VI 5.10 A1, 1600m, Diedrich-Nelson-Ruch, 1988) 8 Southwest Ridge of Asperity (VI 5.9 A1 WI3, 1400m, Hesleden-Richardson, 1997)" Jia Condon's photo.  
The south face of Combatant showing Skywalk (the left most buttress) ED1 5.9 600 m, and Belligerence (the right most buttress) ED3 5.11 A3+ 1150 m, a route I have read about many times and which Don Serl describes, "the tremendous scale and logistical complexity of the route, more than just the difficulty, makes this seem a route more at home in the Karakorum than in western British Columbia...and it certainly holds pride of place as far and away the biggest technical undertaking in the Coast Mountains thus far".  Wow! John Scurlock's photo.
The southwest face of Combatant from the Combatant-Waddington col. John Scurlock's photo.
A view towards the south faces of, L-R Combatant, Tiedemann, Asperity, and the Serra's. The third buttress from the left is Kshatrya (D+ 5.8 735 m). According to Don Serl it's another area classic. John Scurlock's photo.
A view towards Mt. Waddington along the Franklin Glacier. Seriously, this is 290 Km from  Vancouver?! John Scurlock's photo.

The south face of Combatant, and a perfect view of Skywalk (ED1 5.9 600 m). This is supposedly the classic "warmup" of the area. It looks incredible. John Scurlock's photo.

The Stiletto Group, at the eastern end of the Tiedemann Glacier, is a series of sharp spires all around the 200 m range. John Scurlock's photo.
Tiedemann and Asperity from the Tiedemann Glacier.  The long right most buttress on Tiedemann is The Direct South Buttress (ED2 5.10 A1 1600 m). That's 1600 metres of climbing! According to Don Serl, "The DSB links the most challenging of the [Tiedemann] options to form one of the greatest Alpine rock-routes in North America". Holy Crap! My friend Mikey Schaefer climbed the DSB with Kate Rutherford and Julie Niles in 2008. He's an incredible photographer, check out his slideshow from the trip here. OK, now I'm really getting psyched! John Scurlock's photo.

During the summer of 2010 my friends Nick and Tony travelled to "The Wad" and completed a new route on the SW face of Asperity. Check out his blog post, In Firm of Purpose.  From L-R, Waddington, Combatant Tiedemann, Asperity, and the Serra's. Nicks photo.
And so, it's on. The hammer has been dropped once again and I'm off to the races. The only difference now is, I know what I'm finishing!

Jacqui's photo.