Late Summer in the Waddington Range

In the summer of 2011 I was badly hurt by falling ice while attempting a new route in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. This forced me to take over a year of of expedition climbing. In the late summer of 2012 I returned to the game with a trip to the Waddington Range of British Columbia with dear pals Blake Herrington, Forest Woodward and Scott Bennett. Below is Alpinist's report on the trip.

During the month of August, Scott Bennett, Blake Herrington, Graham Zimmerman and Forest Woodward spent two weeks climbing in British Columbia's Waddington Range. Bennett, Herrington and Zimmerman climbed new routes on southwest face of The Blade (3340m) and the southwest face of Stiletto Peak(3397m), ascended the Skywalk Buttress (ED1: 5.9, ) on Combatant Mountain (3756m), with Woodward, and attempted a new line on Mt. Asperity (3716m) before returning to civilization.

The team's new routes consisted of IncogNeato (ED1: 5.10+, C1, 500m) and The Canadian Club (ED1: 5.11-, 450m). Zimmerman writes that both routes were, "sustained 5.10 outings, offering outstanding and well protected climbing, unlikely passages through blank-looking sections, and a healthy amount of shattered alpine choss." The C1 portion of IncogNeato consisted of a traversing pitch that Zimmerman believes could go free at 5.12. When asked what stood out in his memory about climbing in the Waddington range, Herrington described the variable nature of the rock. He told Alpinist, " one pitch it [the rock] would change multiple times and often dead-end you, which, I think, is why there are so few high-end free climbing routes there. Without bolts or pins, it forces you to just keep going one pitch at a time and hope stuff connects. [Due to the nature of the rock] the idea of rallying some mega-new-route onsight and ground up isn't as practical there as (for example) in Patagonia." Harrington's other advice included loading one battery backwards in any headlamp that could accidentally turn itself on, and actually checking to make sure you and your partners' headlamps work. His advice may come from the fact that a malfunctioning headlamp and a camera screen displaying a snowfield illuminated ten of the group's night rappels off The Blade.