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Ice Hiking in British Columbia 14

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It’s Time to Show You Mt. Waddington Itself

(This is a photo story about a walk up the Franklin Glacier to the Waddington Massif.)

Southwest face, bereft of much of its ice in the drought year of 1952. 13,186 feet (4000+ meters) above sea level, 2500 feet of difficult rock and ice climbing. The object of desire, dreams and lies by hundreds of mountain climbers.

From here we are seeing the broad side of the saw blade. Waddington has 2 summits. To get a better idea of the highest, evil, rock-bombing, ice-infested, lightning-prone tooth of a summit, glance at the photo here.

Don’t ask me, dearies, if we climbed it. Though I felt pretty competent at belaying, I had not achieved the strength and fine balance of an expert climber. I was still basically a wing-walker (The wing-walker’s credo: Never let go of anything until you have a good hold on something else.) I was nowhere near skilled enough or motivated enough to attempt Waddington.

Also, for to speak…back then in the ‘50s when radios were too heavy to carry and there were no rescue helicopters, you needed an expedition, perhaps a dozen people.

I would have forever regretted missing this trip but I have never regretted that I missed Waddington. It had been successfully climbed only twice when we were there. Today it’s a bragging trophy in what has become a fiercely competitive, narrowly focused sport.

The peak’s several summits are now littered with rappel anchors, the grizzly bear trails through the primeval forest are replaced by decaying logging roads, and our walking route up the glacier is being marketed by NOLS and other guide outfits. The glacier itself is diminishing at astonishing speed. I am so glad we went there when we did.

Left, Mt. Waddington, in the distance, presides over its ice fields in a “normal” year, July, 1955.


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