Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mount Waddington Highs and Lows

Rating: ****

A well planned kayaking/skiing/hiking trip in British Columbia’s Mount Waddington region makes for an epic and fulfilling journey for Maximilian Kniewasser, Jules Domine and Chris Tretwold.

It was a long-held dream for Maximilian Kniewasser to do an all in one paddling and ski-touring adventure. The paddling portion of the trip was done on the Homathko River, which he has paddled before. His plan was to paddle down the Homathko for 2 days arriving at the trifluence of the Homathko, Mosely and Tiedemann Creek. Once arrived, they would ditch their boats and hike up to the toe of the Tiedemann Glacier to pick up their air delivered ski gear. From there, they would head to the base of Mount Waddington, which is the highest peak entirely within BC at 4,019 metres, where they would hike to the top of the mountain to eventually ski back down to their kayaks for another two days on the water. Although this seems like a perfect plan, the boating and skiing seasons generally do not overlap. They would have to find a window in the spring when the snow hasn’t quite melted so that it wouldn’t flood the tight canyons of the Homathko. Unlikely that the weather would be perfect, the suited up anyways. They reached their first problem on the second day paddling where they came across an avalanche blocking the way of the stream. There was no way of portaging across. Jules, however, paddled towards it and went right into the snow tunnel that the water had formed to pass through. It was a good risk to take given that they made it through the obstacle. All went well for the next three days as they hiked to the base of Mount Waddington. Their hike up the mountain had to be delayed, though, because of a full-blown storm that kept the three of them in their two-person tent for two days. After the weather cleared they tackled Mount Waddington as fast as they could. They had almost forgotten the dangers of climbing icy mountains. In one of the technical sections of the mountain, Max had fell through the ice and tumbled into a deep crevice where he could see no bottom to. Attached to the other boys, he used his ice axe and crampons to get back up. This set a more serious tone for the rest of the climbing portion because they didn't want any more accidents like that to happen. It took them 14 hours to reach the top of the mountain. From there, they skied down. The first 1,200 metres was amazing powdered snow, and then the next 1,000 metres was all ice. They made it back to camp just before dark. The next day they skied back to their kayaks to paddle the rest of the river. They encountered a massive dam from a landslide down the river, making the waters behind it threatening. They were too tired to portage the rest of the way so they went ahead and paddled it. It was physically demanding, but they made it! They paddled the Homathko to where it meets up with the Pacific Ocean. A float plane picked them up and flew them back to their starting point. A truly remarkable 17 day journey.

I have never heard of trip like this before. Especially one including two of my favourite outdoor activities: kayaking and snowboarding! This trip took some extra attention in planning. They did a good job in finding a good time in the year to do it. They remembered to take in account extra food, too, because they needed it when that storm came! I say this because I really appreciate when people have good planning skills because it is very, very important. Now that I have read about a trip that includes activities that I very much enjoy, I really want to do a trip like that one day. Maybe make it shorter than 17 days, though.

Kniewasser, Maximilian. Mount Waddington Highs and Lows. Explore, (fall 2013) pg 16

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic article, makes me want to take an epic trip. Great review, only feedback would be to divide your main body of the article review into easier to read paragraphs.