Trio’s New Routes Put Potentially Unclimbed B.C. Valley on the Map

Climbing
coast range climbing
Photo: Nick Hindley

In late August, three climbers took a helicopter ride into a remote valley in British Columbia’s Coast Range. When they came back out after a fortnight, they’d authored three new big wall lines, half of another, and potentially opened climbing in the area.

The valley sits west of Terrace, B.C., below the 1,200m north face of Mount Gilt. Asked whether he thought climbers had been there before, Nick Hindley, who documented the trip via Instagram, said, “To our knowledge, no one else has been out there at all.”

Hindley, Harlin Brandvold, and Duncan Pawson established the routes over two trips. They took their first foray into the valley in 2019; their second attempt in 2020 got derailed by (surprise surprise) COVID-19.

british columbia climbing

The valley, from the top of Disaster Fauna (5.11- A0, 600m). Photo: Duncan Pawson

‘Solid grades,’ thin cruxes: new Coast Range routes

This year’s trip yielded results. Disaster Fauna (5.11- A0, 600m) is the hood ornament, with 15 pitches of climbing on cracks and corners “at solid grades,” as Hindley put it. The crux negotiates a steep ramp of granite that looks so featureless it’s borderline comical. Hindley estimated the difficulty humbly (from the looks of things) at 5.11+/12-.

coast range climbing

Brandvold on the crux of Disaster Fauna. Succinctly, Hindley described it as “slabby”. Photo: Nick Hindley

The group also punched out Flight of the Dodo (5.10, 350m). Hindley says most of the climbing is quality, but that rotten rock at the top forced a retreat just shy of the summit.

Elsewhere, the provocative but heinous Lizard King awaits completion. So far, the team has established 300m of climbing on the route at 5.10 C2.
coast range climbing

Pawson on the virgin rock of Disaster Fauna. Photo: Nick Hindley

Hindley’s notes on the route so far are pure gold:
One of the most aesthetic looking features I’ve ever seen, from afar. This climbs a dead straight dyke that bisects nearly the entirety of Extinction Wall. Turns out it’s wide and largely wet, from the glacier overhead. But a few decades of climate change should deal with that, and it will be stellar. Starts out right and traverse a dyke, then meets the base of the main dyke. From there the wetness begins, but you can climb along the dry outer edges of the dyke and avoid the water, placing gear in the dyke. Eventually you hit the ‘Komodo Roof, which is a slimy waterfall through a prominent overhang. Grit your teeth and aid through it at C2. Continue up another few wet chimney pitches to a portaledge station below a small roof. This was our high point, about 40% of the way up the wall. The dyke deepens and widens the higher you go, we believe it may get dry higher up once you pass a stream flowing down the wall. We would be psyched if this route was finished by another party, but it’s certainly not for everyone.
Finally, Planktonic Relationship clocks in at mid-5th class, with sprinkled 5.8 moves. It takes a prominent slab on a feature at the valley’s north, 450 meters to the summit.
Hindley noted the area’s wide-open potential for more first ascents. “Endless FAs to be had, including the absolutely monstrous north face of Gilt,” he said. “It’s got to be among the largest walls in the Coast Range.”
coast range climbing

The Coast Range. Photo: Nick Hindley

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About the Author

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.

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