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The Climbing Club :: View topic - Bella Coola - Welcome to MossWorld
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Bella Coola - Welcome to MossWorld
http://students.washington.edu/climb/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=4423
Page 1 of 1

Author:  Kevin Steffa [ Tue Sep 09, 2008 10:53 am ]
Post subject:  Bella Coola - Welcome to MossWorld

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As the world spins around, the convection currents spiral and the jet stream moves south again. Bella Coola is a fjord slicing through the BC coast range just north of Vancouver Island. To the west is the rainforest, and to the east is the dry Chilcotin plateau. What lies in between is a vast alpine wilderness, a country that even most valley residents know little about. Lindsay, Jon, and I arrived in the valley during perhaps one of the wettest weeks in August. We traveled about 12h from Seattle.

With the near constant influx of moisture from the coast, plans for a longer alpine traverse were put on hold. This of course provided opportunity to check out a couple of different locales in the area, and gave plenty of time to chat with the locals.

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True to their roots, the Nuxalk Nation were clustered near the ocean's inlet in the wettest part of the valley. These people have lived here for thousands of years. In the same year, these people saw the arrival of both Vancouver by sea, and Alexander Mackenzie by land, who crossed the continent about 10 years prior to Lewis and Clark's. Here the villages attained more of a 'cluster' feel than the more scattered 'european' settlements and farmsteads up the valley. Their cultural school is decked out in some of the finest wood carvings and totems around, and short walk out of the village leads to a very nice set of ancient petroglyphs. Here amid fanciful faces in the granite, the forests are tall, the river running fast and clear, and the verdant moss is everpresent.

Just up the valley, the Norwegian settlement was nice, though a bit scattered over a strip of the valley, a series of farmsteads and cabins. Some heritage sites reminiscent of Norway, and a few newer tourist lodges. Here were finely polished granite slabs reaching almost to the valley floor from the alpine. The rock has a very Squamish feel (but without the encroaching housing developments). There must be some cragging potential on those dry days, but now, waterfalls everywhere!

Further up the eastern end of the valley past Firvale into Tweedsmuir Park, the sun makes a more frequent occurance. 'Swede' of Bella Coola Helisports operates the Tweedsmuir Park Lodge here, and whenever the rain-fronts had passed, there was always a blue sky hole here. We also met a some locals keen on backcountry trails in the area, who described the routes for accessing various parts of the 'Horn' region. This area is comprised of some fantastical spires. These routes are pretty short, no more than a day of travel to access, though still trail-less bushwhacks, and not tempting with the wet forecasts.

We made three separate short overnights into the alpine during the relative 'breaks' between fronts:

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The first: we found the 'Capoose' trail. It is an old historical trail, very similar to Sourdough Mountain in the North Cascades, however it has not received recent use - hence some parts very brushy through a wildfire burn area. The track was easy to follow though, we just got wet from the brush in a wildfire regrowth zone. The alpine was very pleasant - rolling country with tarns and heather meadows. We just scratched the surface before the next weather front arrived, clouds already streaming the tops of the major summits and filling in the valleys.

The second: into the Rainbow Range - a 'Scottish' like landscape of rolling heather hills dotted with many lakes. A little more of this commondidy called 'bluesky' out here, but awoke to fresh SNOW in the morning as the next round of the pacific jet made its advance. We dropped back into the valley seeking a shelter to dry out, and found moments of sun again at 'swede's suckerhole'.

The third: climbing up into the alpine heart. Once again we found ourselves on the familiar 'ape lake' trail on the nicest day of the week. Access is up a log road very much like Cascade Pass in feel. From here its only a few hours on a trail to the alpine, crossing through some marshy subalpine grasslands partially lined by a wooden boardwalk. We climbed into the heather meadows of Polar Bear Mountain, and here the clouds finally parted, revealing a sea of ice-clad peaks with the Monarch Icefield beyond. I took a sunrise climb up the ridge, and got my first ever look at the fabled Space Point Spires on the Nusatsum divide. These pinnacles were impressive covered in fresh snow from the week's storm sequence.

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Back out east and heading home: Tatlayoko Lake was settled by Germans, and there are many first nations out here as well. The Waddington region, still only helicopter accessible, is near here. A new hut is being built in the Pantheon range at Nirvana Pass, which may be a possible to get a trail to someday. We met some Indians net-fishing in the Chilcotin river narrows. There are also several ranching operations around, as well as a bighorn sheep reserve. It is good to find the sunshine again!

Moss back water drop, bluebird takes flight.
In the misty mountains, wild are proud.
Spirit bear renders sky, shaggy and white.
Welcome to mossworld, we are cloud.

Photos here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/kevinsteffa ... ellaCoola#
http://picasaweb.google.com/kevinsteffa/08_08_Capoose#
http://picasaweb.google.com/kevinsteffa/08_08_Nusatsum#

- Kevin

Author:  Stephanie Savage [ Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:42 pm ]
Post subject: 


Author:  Jon Jantz [ Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:24 pm ]
Post subject: 


Author:  Lindsay Malone [ Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:19 pm ]
Post subject: 


Author:  Kevin Steffa [ Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:52 am ]
Post subject: 

I believe the full latin name is 'Eastern Washingtoniae Badassus'. Note that this particular sub-species is not native to coastal environements and unlikely to establish itself as an invasive. It flourishes, however, in the interior mountain ranges of BC, where even the thick brush and snowy alpine does not contain it's spread.

The photo link is currently a proxy, my photos will be added in a few days time.

Nice shots Lindsay!

- Kevin

Author:  Rok Roskar [ Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:48 pm ]
Post subject: 

nice! you finally made it out there, kevin! You reckon it would be worth a repeat visit in the winter/early spring?

Author:  Kevin Steffa [ Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:45 am ]
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Author:  Kevin Steffa [ Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:36 am ]
Post subject: 

Photos added!

Author:  Ethan Welty [ Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:01 am ]
Post subject: 

Holy cow, Nusatsum looks incredible. Kevin, you have awakened me to my ignorance of the mountain assets of our northern neighbor, and I now can't wait to get up there myself someday.

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