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Topic "Willingdon (1 of 5)" started by Jason Wilcox on Jul-31-2006

Topic: Willingdon (1 of 5)
Author: Jason Wilcox
Date: Monday, July 31, 2006 06:07 PM

On Saturday July 29, 2006, Raff and I left the Mecca Caf� parking lot at 0530. We passed Blair Piggot and Dave Stephens on Hwy 1 on the way out, wondering where they were headed, but we cruised past them and joked about how Dave was probably wishing they were driving as fast as we were�
We arrived at the Mosquito Creek Hostel parking lot at 0720 and were on the trail about 0730. We took the trail that paralleled the creek bed instead of the well beaten path, and the scenery was much nicer. Eventually this links up with the main trail. On the approach there are 3 log bridges. The first two are close together and just after the third one you follow the North branch of the creek. We almost missed the turnoff but Raff was on the ball and we only lost about 5 minutes. About 10 minutes past the fork, head into the trees on the right of the creek and follow sheep/human paths for about an hour and then tramp up the hillside and head for the col.
At the Quartzite col, we aimed for the weakness on the right, scrambling up a boulder field to gain the col. There was a large cairn at the col, so we figured we were on route. After a quick break, we started to head down the gully right below the cairn. BIG Mistake. The gully was very steep and loose, with a little ice thrown in for good measure. We didn�t have crampons, so we gingerly started down the gully, and I slipped and slid about 20 feet before coming to a stop. Rock was sliding down everywhere. So I took the rope and hooked it around a large rock and lowered myself quickly to another large rock and traversed around the corner to a ledge where I would be clear of the rockfall. Raff followed me down and we traversed the ledge until the cliff ended and we walked down the boulder field into the valley. That gully was very dangerous and I do not recommend going that way. There was tons of rockfall and because of the angle it was difficult to keep from sliding uncontrollably down the gully. We also estimate we added about 45 minutes to the trip because of the difficulty here.
We stopped for a quick break when we hit the valley and then pressed on toward Devon Lakes. The valley is a long way across � a lot longer than it looked to me from the col. I think the problem is that there is quite a bit of elevation loss and gain going across the valley.
We arrived at the smallest lake at about 1500 and dropped our overnight packs. After sorting out what to take to the summit, we left for our summit bid at about 1530. Walking towards the ridge it started to spit and dark clouds were moving in, but they were not thick, so we pressed on. When we reached the helmet (that�s what I�m calling the pinnacle where the ridge turns right towards the summit) it had mostly cleared off and it was looking good for making the summit, despite the tired legs and lungs. We traversed to the left at the 5m rock step and found a fixed cord that I inspected once I got up and told Raff that it looked good, so I think he used it for re-assurance. We made the summit at about 1830, and after a half hour break, started the decent. I setup my 25m rope in the anchor (two nuts and a piton) at the rock step and used it going down. After I had gone most of the way down to the helmet, I remembered I had left my ice axe on the ridge up a ways, so I tramped back up to get it. When I reached the helmet, Raff had scouted out a scree decent down the gully, which turned out to be a bad idea (what�s with us and bad gullies anyway?) so we turned around and slogged back up the treadmill scree. So we continued down the ridge and back to the campsite and returned at 2230. A long day.
We got up at 0830 and started the hike out at 0940. We decided to take the far right gully (on return � far left on approach) and it was looking good until the very top section. It got steeper there and I scrambled up the left side with loose holds and fairly solid scree, while Raff took the right side that was steeper but more solid. I think I should have followed Raff in hindsight. There was one large chunk that I tested and it seemed solid, but when I had to pull on it it came loose and I tried to dodge it but it caught my side lightly and sent me tumbling. It was about half the size of my torso and I was lucky it didn�t hit me square on or I would have been in big trouble. But we both managed to scramble up the last bit and took a break at the col. If we would have had crampons we could have walked directly up the icy gully, but hindsight it 20/20. Before we knew it (yeah right � what a boring trek through the woods) we were back at the car at 1530. Just under 6 hours campsite to car.

Raff - I'll send you pics tomorrow. I just finished this and I have to run.


Topic: Willingdon (2 of 5)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Monday, July 31, 2006 06:42 PM

Now it all makes sense. Blair and I were heading to Mt. Brock, when suddenly, a blue car with two guys in it went by us, slowed down to let us catch up. The two people inside waved frantically at us, then sped off. Blair and I waved to be polite, but after they left, we looked at each other and said, "Who the hell were those clowns". :-) Now we know.

Glad you guys made the summit. Much better than our day on Brock.

Dave Stephens

Topic: Willingdon (3 of 5)
Author: Frank Nelson
Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2006 02:04 PM

Sounds like you guys took the gully down from Quartzite that the other couple we passed took. We put considerable distance on them when they were downclimbing. Too bad the snow wasn't better, because we just kicked steps right to the top up the easier route on return.
We must have lucked out with conditions again at the gully on Willingdon, as we just glissaded down it.
Good job on doing it on the same night in, I don't think I had the will power after getting there!

Topic: Willingdon (4 of 5)
Author: Jason Wilcox
Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2006 04:29 PM

Frank, yeah, it was tough motivating myself to get going again after walking all the way in to the lake, especially since there were dark clouds moving in. But I figured I'd be too lazy to get up early and have a long day on Sunday so I decided to suck it up.
Raff tried to kick steps up the snow in the gully on return but it was too icy, so there we were, clinging to loose handholds instead....
I think it would be worth taking crampons and leaving them at the bottom of the snow/ice in that gully for the climb on return.

Topic: Willingdon (5 of 5)
Author: Mountain Ninja
Date: Wednesday, August 02, 2006 03:57 PM

Sounds like you and Pete had perfect conditions, especially at Quartzite Col, when you did Willingdon a month ago.

The photos from our Willingdon trip can be viewed on my site.