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Summer Camp 2001

The Lyells

by Dave Stephens



In the Spring of 2001, Bill Marriott announced the next alpine summer camp to be held at the Lyells. Before the announcement was printed in the Chinook, the trip was almost full. Knowing the success of the Clemenceau trip the previous year, it's no surprise that these camps fill up fast. The goal of this camp would be the five Lyell peaks and Mt. Forbes. All six peaks are over 11,000 ft.

On Saturday, 11 Aug 01, thirteen hearty souls departed Calgary and made their way out to Golden, then up the logging roads, up the Valenciennes River to our helicopter staging area at GR900377 on map 82N/14. Everybody prepared for the helicopter and wrapped the vehicles with chicken wire. An hour later, Don McTighe (our pilot) arrived to transport us all to Icefall Brook (GR 962478), site of the 1986 GMC, and our home for the next week. We timed our helicopter trip with Alan Kane's group going into nearby Mt. Alexandra. As they were flying out, we were flying in. On the flight in, Don told us that Alan Kane's group had a week of wonderful weather for their Mt. Alexandra trip. They had bagged six peaks, including Mt. Alexandra. We were only hoping for a few nice days like they had. Little did we know we would get six days of clear skies and hot temperatures. By early Saturday evening, base camp was established and everybody was getting settled. Teams were formed for the first set of adventures.

On Sunday, three teams left camp. Lyells Team 1 consisted of myself, Rob, Anthony, and James. Lyells Team 2 consisted of Dan, Denelle, Paul, and Yana. The Forbes Team included Kevin, George, and Roy. The Forbes Team got a good night's rest, a good breakfast, and hiked over to the bivy site in 4 ½ hours. For them Sunday was an easy day. The two Lyells teams were both planning to do Lyells 1-3. We left base camp at 0400 under clear star-filled skies and made our way up the rocks and slabs to GR 965513 (8856 ft). This put us on the ridge high above the SE Lyells Glacier. We traversed the ridge northward until we were able to gain the glacier. There were a few crevasses here, but once out in the middle of the glacier, the crevasses were far and few between. It was amazing how big this glacier was. We would walk and walk and the Lyells just weren't getting any closer. While marching across the vastness, the two Lyell teams starting drifting apart. Team 1 raced forward while Team 2 drifted back. As Team 1 approached the 2/3 col, James decided to sit back and wait to join Team 2. Team 1, now with three people pressed on and summitted Lyell #2 (11,528 ft) after a long 8hr48mins from the base camp. After a quick break at the summit, we signed the register, ate some food, and started to head over to Lyell #1. A quick glance at Team 2 showed they were still approaching the 2/3 col. Some of the members of Team 2 had dropped their packs in the middle of the Lyell Glacier. We would later discover that they were having lots of problems with blisters and the 27°C sunny weather was zapping energy.

Meanwhile, Team 1, walked down to the 2/1 col, then up the slopes of Lyell #1 (11,505 ft). We took a couple of summit pictures and started back down to the 2/1 col. From that col, we circled around the north side of Lyell #2 and glanced up to see Team 2 on the summit of Lyell #2. As Team 1 made it to the 2/3 col, we started ascending Lyell #3 as Team 2 made their way back to the 2/3 col. Team 1 reached the summit of Lyell #3 (11,520 ft) just as Team 2 reached the long flat SE Lyell Glacier. The two teams joined up again on the ridge above our marvelous base camp. Over all, the day was 17 hours round trip. It was a long day, but a good day.

On Monday, the two Lyell Teams decided to take the day off as a rest day. We sat around base camp soaking up the sun, and healing our injuries. Rob, Paul, and Yana suffered from major blisters while Denelle suffered from extreme sunburn. Paul, Yana, and Denelle would spend the rest of the week in base camp, along with Bill and Greg. I should mention that Greg and Bill both had messed up knees, which limited their activities to short hiking trips.

Also on Monday was the Forbes Team. The Forbes Team woke up at 0300 and left their bivy site at 0415. They ascended the NW face, but stayed on the right side of the face. Just below the summit, they angled over to the West ridge and reached the summit at 0945. Going up, they placed nine ice screws and used them as a running belay. They actually left the screws in and clipped into them on descent. It was an interesting method, but it worked. They returned to their bivy site, made a late lunch, took a short nap, then stumbled back to base camp around 1930.

On Tuesday, myself, Rob, and Anthony decided to try Lyell 4 and 5 as another long day trip. This time, Bill had suggested a new route to gain the Lyell Glacier. Bill's route traversed moraines for 3 hours until finally reaching the SW Lyell Glacier. Lyell Team 1 left base camp at 0430 by headlamp, searching for cairns, which Bill placed every 100 yards. Slowly, our team made it's way to the bench just south of Lyell #5.

Meanwhile, Dan and James formed Lyell Team 2, but they planned to do a bivy south of Lyell #5. Carrying extra gear, a tent, sleeping bags, and leaving an hour after us, they still managed to catch up with Team 1. We aren't sure how that happened. Also, later that day, Roy, Kevin, and George established Lyell Team 3, and they decided to set up a bivy where we gained the SE Lyell Glacier the first time. Team 1 made its way up the south slopes of Lyell #5 (11,120 ft) with very little difficulties. We planned a south to north traverse. Unfortunately, the trip took much longer than expected. It took us 9hrs to reach the summit of Lyell #5. As we started the long slow rappel down the north ridge of Lyell #5, we could watch Team 2 summit Lyell #1 and #3. It took us six 30m raps to gain the 4/5 col. Due to the time slipping away, we abandoned hope of reaching the summit of #4. Rather than climb back up 5, we decided to rappel down the east face, which took another five rappels. After leaving the summit at 1400, it wasn't until 1930 that we were back on the SE Lyell Glacier. After that, we set a fast pace to make use of as much daylight as we could. Daylight lasted until 2230, and out came the headlamps. After a long 19 &fract12; hour day, we made it back to base camp around midnight.

On Wednesday, Team 2 (Dan and James) marched to the base of the 4/3 col and ascended the eastern face. Once at the col, Dan led James up the north ridge of Lyell #4 and eventually completed a southward traverse of Lyell #4 and #5. They would be the only party to reach the summit of Lyell #4. The two would eventually stumble back into base camp later that evening.

Also on Wednesday, Team 3 (George, Kevin, and Roy) left their bivy site at 0530, dropped down onto the SE Lyell Glacier and made their way to the 2/3 col. Within a total of 90 minutes, they reached the summits of Lyells #2, #1, and #3. They then dropped back down onto the SE Lyell Glacier and circled around the SE side of Lyell #5. They discovered Team 2's bivy site, which was too inviting for Kevin. Three peaks in one day was enough for him, so he dropped off the team and stayed with Team 2's tent. The rest of Team 3 continued up the south face of Lyell #5, making an impressive four-peak day. They picked up Kevin on the way back to their bivy site. They decided to spend one more night at the bivy site and they would head back to base camp on Thursday.

Thursday was a rest day for everybody, although Dan and Rob decided to head off to Forbes and establish their bivy site in the afternoon.

On Friday, Roy and myself decided to take a quick trip up Mons Peak (10,113 ft). The trip was actually very short, but fun. There were numerous crevasses (wide, open, and deep). With a little bit of route finding through the crevasses and across a huge 'schrund, we managed to join the west ridge and scrambled our way to the summit. Friday was our first day without clear sunny skies. Forest fires burning throughout British Columbia were creating a smoke screen, which hindered our views. Nonetheless, Mons Peak was a good short climb. 5 hours round trip. Roy and I made it back to camp just as everybody else was waking up.

The only other activity on Friday was Dan and Rob going up Forbes. Basically, they followed the footsteps of the first Forbes Team, reaching the summit by mid morning. Late that evening, Rob and Dan would stagger back to Base Camp completely wiped, but feeling good about their achievement.

Saturday came, and it was time to go home. We sat around camp, taking up the last of our pictures, taking down the tents, and waiting for Don McTighe to arrive. Around mid afternoon, we could hear the sounds of the chopper, and we knew our vacation was over. In came the next group, and out went ourselves. We had enjoyed marvelous weather, and we wished the other group the same. We got back to our cars and made our way back to Golden. Of course, we had to stop for food. We stopped at the Country Garden for their all you can eat buffet. Believe me, a large group of mountaineers who have been camping all week can eat a lot. It wouldn't surprise me if they put a sign on their door, which says, "No Climbers Allowed".

The following is a summary of who climbed what:

Lyell #1

Lyell #2

Lyell #3

Lyell #4

Lyell #5

Mt. Forbes

Mons Peak

Dave
Rob
Anthony
Dan
James
Roy
George
Kevin
Dave
Rob
Anthony
Dan
James
Denelle
Paul
Yana
Roy
George
Kevin
Dave
Rob
Anthony
Dan
James
Roy
George
Kevin
Dan
James
Dave
Rob
Anthony
Dan
James
Roy
George
Kevin
Bill
Roy
Kevin
George
Dan
Rob
Roy
Dave



Participants: Paul Cakl, Yana Cakl, Dan Doll, Greg Gauld, George Gervais, James Hsu, Anthony Kahn, Rob Maiman, Bill Marriott, Kevin Papke, Denelle Peacey, Roy Stadlwieser, and Dave Stephens