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The Climbing Club • View topic - 'Wild Country' in Bella Coola

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 10:06 pm 
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Moss Man
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John Jantz, Eric Gratz, and I spent a week in the Coast Range just south of Bella Coola, BC (mid coast, north of vancouver island, and south of Prince Rupert). We tramped an alpine route to Ape Lake at the edge of the Monarch Icefield beneath lofty Mount Jacobsen.

Image

Its Wild Country out there! We drove for hours across the interior Chilcotin Plateau, a rather harsh country of scraggly logdepole pine broken up by the occasional lake or meadow. At Tatla Lake, one gets a good glimpse of the Nuit Range, closest access point to Waddington. Passing through Tweedsmuir park, the topography changes abruptly from the high plateau to a deep lush coastal fiord. The Bella Coola valley is a work of art just by itself, with squamish-esque rock slab walls on the north side, and peaks to the south that make the pickets look quaint. The major peaks are all outside of Tweedsmuir park, as the park only encompasses the transition zone.

We headed south on the Ape Lake trail, a seldom trod path off the Nusatsum forestry road. As far as access in the coast range goes, this trail is great! It passes through a series of marshes and lakes and finally ends in heather fields on Polar Bear Arm. The meadows here are incredibly lush, occupying a broader zone than they do in the cascades. It is then cross country for 12 km, first a long traverse, then though 'Knobgoblin Land' with its enchanting tarns, then finally across a broad alluvial plain to the face the Fyles Glacier. Best part of this route is open country the whole way and very little brush! We took it easy, admiring the scenery with a few camps along the way, but a strong party can probably cover the distance in a full day or day and a half. Access into the peaks around the Borealis glacier just east of the lake is pretty straightforward.

The area has some interesting geology, for in the 70's, Ape Lake was blocked by the glacier, causing it to drain out the other side of the valley. With glacial retreat, a series of floods drained the lake to half its size, scouring the land in the process. The resulting terrain is a chaotic mix of polished granite slabs and sandy debris with the glacier calving blue ice into pools along its 2 KM face. The maze holds a number of fine little surprises to discover, including a place where the melting glacier has formed a double arch over a pool.

Mount Jacobsen is the most prominent peak in the area, an impressive double pyramid nearly 10,000' tall. It dominated the view both from afar and up close, but we also passed by other glaciated hulks along the way. Eric explored Ape Lake, tried some wilderness bouldering, and went for a swim in the ice-filled waters. John took lots of pictures, got lots of sleep, and told tales of club yore. I also took some pictures. On our middle day, I followed some goat trails high on the side of Musician Mountain, but only came up with a handful of goat hair. There were no major animal sightings, not even the local grizzlies.

I parted John and Eric at Williams Lake, where they headed north on their roadtrip to Alaska. We'll probably hear some more tales from them in a month. All of BC is on fire! The smoke was still very thick near Lillooet from the large Chilcotin Fire, and I saw a helicopter dump a load on some lively looking flames right above route 1 in the Frasier canyon.

- Kevin

p.s. More pictures at:
http://picasaweb.google.com/kevinsteffa ... ellaCoola#


Last edited by Kevin Steffa on Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2003 11:53 pm 
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An Old Geezer
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 Post subject: Photos
PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:44 am 
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UW Climber
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:23 am 
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Alpine Bod
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2003 1:48 am 
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Moss Man
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Glad you all like the images - there are more in store! - check out the full page below:

http://www.catdaddy.com/people/kevin/im ... Coola.html


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2003 12:53 pm 
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Waddler
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Mmmmh...strangely, I like the green meadows more than the cold glaciers...


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2003 1:08 pm 
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An Old Geezer
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Beautiful shots, Kevin! What are those twin peaks that feature so prominently in your photos?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2003 9:23 pm 
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UW Climber
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Have you guys climbed anything yet? :wink:


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2003 9:55 pm 
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Alpine Bod
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