Tchaikazan valley - August 2-14, 2008 - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 03:04 AM Thread Starter
Off the Beaten Path
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Interest: Bumming around above treeline.
Posts: 775
Default Tchaikazan valley - August 2-14, 2008

This is a long TR. Grab a drink and settle in.

Also, do yourself a favor and read the photo captions. I've spent a long time writing them and I think they'll make the TR better.


Well, I've been busy getting out a lot this summer, but the rainy week-ends are upon us and so I'm going to try to crank out a few TRs. The most memorable trip I've had in a while was 11 days in the Tchaikazan valley. We set out with lots of gear and grand plans, but ended up climbing only 2 non-technical peaks. Nonetheless, it was an incredible experience to be several days away from civilization, in such rugged and amazing terrain. The upper tchaikazan valley is incredibly wild and rugged; it's a world away from the normal hiking loop.

August 2nd

We drove off from Vancouver around 7:00 in the evening after much frantic and impulsive gear shopping. I ended up forgetting to buy a full-length sleeping pad, and had to settle for a 5mm ¾ length foam pad and a self-inflating pad of the same length. We drove without incident through the Fraser canyon, then rented a motel room in Cache creek at 11:00. The only eatery open was A&W and we proceeded to eat a highly greasy dinner, chatting with a trucker about the dangers of driving highway 20 to Bella Coola. Since neither of us has a TV, we marveled at 2 hours of “the sopranos” before passing out.

August 3rd

We woke up around 9 and left just before check-out. We made our way rather quickly to Williams lake where we picked up food for lunch and dinner. We also added to our supplies some snack items – chewy and fruit bars, mixed nuts and glazed peanuts. The latter item turned out to be a staple of our diet over the next 2 weeks. We stopped under a bridge on the Fraser river to have lunch: Bagels with hummus, tomato, green pepper, alfalfa sprouts and avocado. We then made our way on paved roads to Hanceville, an hour outside of Williams lake, then turned South on the Taseko lake road.

After driving over an hour we began to question our whereabouts. We could see 3000-metre mount Tatlow looming above, but we were unsure of where to turn off to reach Taseko lake and the Tchaikazan valley. We continued for some time on the main road, and after doubling back at a small lake we found a small, rough-looking spur where the Falls lake road should be. We never ran into Fishem lake or the airstrip at its South end – instead, after driving 40km at an average speed of 30km/h, we ran into 2 men on an ATV. They informed us that they had seen and photographed grizzlies in the area, and that a large mining camp had been established near Fishem lake. They had flown in from Vancouver and landed their plane on the airstrip. We continued up the road past a large bulldozer and a wooden drilling platform, then reached a large washout where the road had been completely obliterated. We backtracked to a small spur a km back, set up camp and went to sleep.

August 4th

We woke up at 7:30. Neither of us was hungry so we both went straight to packing last-minute items, then drove up the road to a suitable parking spot close to the washout. We started hiking on the trail right by the mighty Tchaikazan river, a wide and fast-moving silty watercourse.

We made extremely slow progress with our heavy bags – the 12 days of food, climbing and glacier gear was taking a heavy toll on our energy levels, and we kept stops to a minimum as neither of us could shoulder our bag without help from the other. In a few spots the trail opened up into gravel flats, affording us views of the horn of rock known as “the rhino” that towers over the meadows near Spectrum pass.

After about 5km we stopped for lunch at a horse-camp with a rustic picnic table. We ate most of our rations for the day and laid down in the pine needles, our hips swollen and blistered from the tight hip-belts.

After gathering ourselves we got up and continued through somewhat scrubby vegetation to a small red cabin shortly before the trail veers off towards Spectrum pass. From here we could see further up the valley to Friendly peak, Moose mountain and Spyglass peak. We decided to stop for the night. We had covered the 11km in a apalling 8 hours.

We tried to descend to the river for water, but a few hundred metres of marshland blocked the way, so we gave up and used a small creek for water. The rest of the night as spent cooking, reading and sitting on the primitive benches before a crackling fire. We decided to sleep in the tent due to the impressive amount of rat droppings in the cabin, but we hung our food on some metal wire that was hung from the cabin's ceiling beams.

August 5th

We woke up later than our 7:00 alarm and ate a leisurely breakfast. Mice had somehow gotten into one of our food bags and ruined one dinner. It was 11:00 by the time we were moving, and soon enough we had to leave the trail as it left West for Spectrum pass. We quickly made our way across several small glacial streams in the forest before emerging into the gravel flats. We needed to ford several arms of the Tchaikazan in order to stay on the flats, and at first all was well and we were fording small braids in our boots without getting wet. I had the pole so I would probe the water and cross followed by Sarah. The water was so silty that we couldn't see the bottom of streams deeper than 10cm, hence all the probing.
After a short bit we came to a crossing that was too deep, and short of wading shoes we donned our booties and poceeded to cross a stream that was 20cm deep, then a couple of 30cm deep channels. the last major channel we crossed was about 40cm deep and moving fairly fast. We were doing well until we reached the far banks and the depth increased to almost 70cm. We just crossed our fingers, and holding onto each other and taking turns putting one foot ahead, we made it. Sarah fell over as she clambered over the bank and get pretty wet. We were now on a long stretch of dry river bed and we removed our booties and bathed our numb, frozen feet in the warm sunshine. After wringing out the booties we were off again. We travelled a short distance until a rest stop at 2:00, when we considered camping there on the flats and attempting Rufous mountain the next day. However, fording the remaining major arm of the river seemed too dangerous, and we wanted to explore the upper valley, so we continued. When we reached a full-on crossing of the river we were faced with the options of retracing our steps nearly one km, or attempting to cross a fast-moving 3-m wide braid. We decided we had had enough of fording, and crossed a narrow arm of the river onto the bank in a non-caring manner which involved keeping our boots on.

Several minutes had to be spent wringing out our socks and turning our boots upside down, as this arm was 40cm deep. After climbinbg up the riverbank We followed game trails for a few hundred metres above (and safe from) a steep bank that dropped directly into the raging river, until it was possible to drop back onto the flats. We were not able to make much progress and soon we came to the creek originating from the Miserable glacier. This one descended steeply from the valley and featured gurgling rapids. We climbed up to try to find a better way across, and the solution to our problem came in the form of a downed tree. We crossed this sketchy, bushy bridge with some reservations and most of all more boot flooding. It would take more than 2 days to fully dry our boots, but the drying could begin: this was our last ford for several days.
We clambered over the bank of this new creek bed and began ascending through alder after a good drink. This was a bad choice as we later found out - following the creek to the alpine would have made more sense.

We climbed up and traversed South on a ferocious bush-crash that left us completely parched and exhausted within a half hour. Luckily we found a small creek in a meadow, and we didn't have to climb up to a snow patch for hydration. After another break and more food, we stumbled up the meadow to treeline, and made a bee line for the moraine on the opposite side of the valley. Unfortunately, we were exhausted, and after travelling for 8 hours and covering a paltry 6km, we camped. We crashed hard after dinner.

August 6th

We tried to get up early again, but failed. A pattern was emerging. After "breakfast" (i.e. lazing around in our wet booties) we packed the glacier gear and screws and headed up the valley towards the toe of the friendly glacier. The 1.8km walk up the moraine started at 12:30 and would later take on the air of a ritual. We hit the ice, put on our crampons and ascended the flat glacier to 2225m, checking out routes on Friendly peak, Rim mountain and Moose mountain. We failed to find a good dry site to take out the rope and practice, so we descended until we found a good site by the medial moraine. A lot of confusion ensued about 6:1 pulley system, as we were tired and hungry. We abandoned our efforts at 6:00 and headed down, passing again two huge holes near the medial moraine and a collection of waterslide-like channels in the ice surface. Were back in camp around 7:30, pooped and hungry. We decided to spend a full day reviewing techniques and conducting practice scenarios the next day.

August 7th

We were able to extract ourselves from bed at 8:30 and we were off after a quick breakfast and coffee. After the 40-minute walk to the toe of the glacier, we put on our harnesses and found a good spot to practice. The next few hours were spent building countless pulley systems and conducting extensive one-person rescue scenarios, including a complete re-enactment of rescuing an unconscious partner. A lot of hauling was done, even though the grade was gentle we would pull in opposite directions to simulate dead weight. Hauling was surprisingly difficult. Once we were satisfied with our level of proficiency we packed up and headed up the ice to the firn line towards Moose mountain to scope things out. We had 1km of snow-covered glacier to cross to a col in the Friendly glacier, from which two routes opened up: 1km of snow-covered ice for the West ridge of Moose, and 2.5km for the North slopes of Rim. The South face of Moose was 500-600m of 45-degree snow which we could reach directly from the glacial ice - no snow-covered glacier to cross. We decided to boldly attempt both peaks the next day - We would charge up Rim first, then on the return go up the West ridge of Moose and descend the South face. On our return to camp we came across many larger crevasses. Some were apparently filled with snow, but tapping a large bridge with my axe caused it to crash down an unknown distance into standing water in the darkness below. I slowly retreated from the lip. We returned to camp for an 8-hour day; we weren't too tired so we read for a bit. We also came to the realization that climbing both peaks wasn't feasible. By the time we climbed moose, the snow bridges on rim would be too soft. If we climed Rim first and had to later backtrack on Moose, we would have to come back down the snow-covered glacier on soft snow bridges. We decided to leave camp at 4, rope up, walk to the col and choose one route.

August 8th

Obviously we dozed through the alarm and woke up at 7:30. I remember having many thoughts of getting out of my warm bag into the cold night, walking for 2km, then roping up and possibly have to haul someone out of a crevasse. The thought wasn't as appealing as the down-filled coccoon I occupied so the choice was obvious.

When we finally dragged ourselves out of bed, we realized that we could still slavage some dignity as alleged mountaineers by climbing the West face of Friendly peak. We each had 2 pop-tarts, chugged gatorade, grabbed the rations we had measured up the day before and headed up the moraine once again. We first climbed West up the ice to a large medial moraine, then contoured South then West towards a small waterfall draining the face. We stepped off the ice and almost onto a large ice overhang at the moat, then climbed up about 100m of talus and scree. Luckily the bare ice extended all the way to the scree in one area and we didn't need to rope up. From here, we had 350m of snow to reach the ridge crest at 2640m. The first 100m were soft and easy 30-35 degree snow, but there appeared to be 3 separate bulges in the ridge, the steepest one being the first with about 30m of 45 degree snow. Front pointing was required on this part, as the snow was too hard to kick anything or plunge the shaft of our axes. We moved right, ascending the steepest but shortest section of slope just above a narrow bottleneck between rock bands. Once above the bulge the angle relented and probably didn't exceed 35 degrees. The snow was also softer, and we were able to stop to photograph each other and get a few seconds of film.

Mid-way up the face we stopped in a moat below a small rock island to have a bite to eat. Although I somehow thought the climb would take one hour, we had already spent double that. We took off again and climbed the last unrelenting slope to the ridge crest, where we crapped our pants at the insane view of Monmouth mountain and the bare Tchaikazan glacier winding its way down the rugged upper valley, past the heavily crevassed Rifferswill icefall. Here we dropped all our technical gear and scrambled up the last 50m on an undulating ridge with a slightly exposed move of stiff class 2 guarding the 2696-metre summit of Friendly peak.

We sat and ate more of our meager daily rations and basked in the warm sun, enjoying a few windless minutes of bliss.

After about an hour of lounging and picture-taking, we retraced our steps down the undulating ridge to our stash of gear. Sarah ontemplated climbing a small pinnacle just above us, but at 1:30 the snow was already starting to mush up and we began to descend. We were able to plunge-step most of the way, except for the 50 or so metres of steeper terrain where the snow was still hard, and we downclimbed this. We soon reached the rock, and descended the ugly moraine slope using the slip and fall technique, and regained the ice. We filled our bottles and our stomachs at one of the glacial streams on the bare ice, donned our crampons and walked back to the toe of the glacier.

Here we ate the rest of our daily rations and walked the 1.8km stretch of moraine back to camp. We had Singapore curry noodles and red pepper risotto for dinner, and topped it off with instrant chocolate pudding to celebrate our first summit in the area. Our exploration of the area was greatly helped by this view of the upper reaches of the Tchaikazan valley, and we were very excited about moving farther up.

We went to bed fairly early as we had returned to camp at 5:00, and we had plenty of time to lounge about before retiring. I was asleep before sunset.

August 9th

I woke up at 4:40am to the sound of drizzle on the tent. The weather looked unsettled so I went back to sleep. The rain continued, at times with gusts of heavy winds, until noon. In a lull in the weather, we emerged from the tent and had breakfast. We ate a large helping of oatmeal with dried apples, cinnamon and brown sugar. Sarah made some coffee for herself, I filled up the four bottles and water bladder, and the drops began to fall again. Over the next 7 hours we were pummeled by heavy winds and rain as we played cards, read, wrote and lounged around in the small tent. Around 8 we were able to emerge again for dinner - jambalaya with ground beef. The rain started again just as we made tea in the vestibule. Things seemed to be on the upswing visually, with several sucker windows opening up, but the pressure was down to 806mb from 816 when we arrived. Despite appearances, we were in for more rain.

August 10th

More rain. I woke up at 7:30 to a light drizzle. Unlike the previous day, the sky was now uniformly gray, and all the surrounding peaks were shrouded in fog. The pressure rose up to 812mb at noon, although the outlook was relativelay grim considering our weather observations. I wondered how much fresh snow would cover the peaks, as the previous night's storm had left a dusting above 2600m.

when the weather finally broke again around 8:00, we went outside for dinner. While Sarah was at the creek getting water and I manned the stove, I looked up and found myself looking at 3 bears some 50m away. suddenly one of them was galloping my way over boulders, and by the time I ran the 4m separating me from the tent door, grabbed the bear spray and removed the safety, that bear was 10m away and veering off of its charging course. Sarah joined me from behind as the mother joined her cubs, and we both yelled at the animals to go away. After a 30-second yelling frenzy we drove them away and they bolted, disappearing over a lateral moraine. A bit shaken, we finished eating a sketchy dinner of mashed potatoes and "chili" (which was almost non edible), read a bit and went to sleep. On our minds was the fact that mother and cubs had escaped towards our planned route for the next day...

August 11th

Clear skies! 6:30 am and not a cloud in sight. The pressure is still 812mb in camp, and things are looking up. We slept in until 8:30 today, as the trek up valley shouldn't take more than a few hours. After packing in sunny but frigid conditions (parka weather), we headed to the creek draining the friendly glacier and crossed it upstread of some rather torrential rapids.

We then entered the forest and left the friendly glacier valley, traversing below cliffs on the East side of Friendly peak. We had to bushwhack for a short distance (lots of cursing, horribly heavy packs) before we reached a long scree slope that we traversed until we were some 100m above meadows. We then descended to these, and continued up the valley (South) until we reached the huge alluvial plain below the toe of the tchaikazan glacier.

A short ways up the flats, shortly after a food break, I spotted a "rock" that appeared to get up and move. A bear was a few hundred metres ahead of us. Immediately we moved up the side of the valley as we continued up, reaching a point upwind and above the bear. After some observing we spotted 2 cubs following the mother from a distance. The cubs seemed to be tired or lazy, as they kept lying down. The mother periodically had to turn back and go get her cubs. When we had had enough, we started yelling to let them know we were there, as we were planning to camp less than one km from here. As we yelled, the family reared up and started to dash towards us, then stopped again. They all stood on their hind legs, and finally bolted in the opposite direction. As they crossed the braided tchaikazan river, huge trails of water were left behind.

After they disappeared behind one of the moraines of the Hourglass glacier, we continued along a small creek on the West side of the Tchaikazan glacier, on the West side of a mound of slabs that flanks the ice. In addition to the small grizzly footprints (which we deduced were from the mother we had been seeing), we were finding an increased number of huge grizzly prints, the hind ones being as long as my size 9 boot.

Naturally, we were on edge. With our last ounce of energy, we reached the small turquoise lake that feeds this creek. Its colour contrasted in a stunning way with the pearly white, heavily crevassed Rifferswill glacier that pours off Monmouth mountain, and for many minutes we marvelled at the incredible beauty of paradise.

Sarah went for a swim in a smaller pond, and after my effort-induced nausea subsided I walked around the lake to have a look at the access to the ice. Down 30m of slabs and talus was our gateway to the long, winding Tchaikazan glacier, and a route towards the upper valley.

Although the toe of the glacier was 1km behind us, we still had almost 6km of bare ice to cross before we could start climbing up our next objective, 3019-metre Corner peak. I don't really have words to describe the stark, inhospitable ruggedness that characterized the glacier, so I'll let the pictures talk.

After this, we had a nice dinner of Singapore curry noodles and neoguri seafood soup, and we retired from the bitter cold to read. At 1900m and next to a collection of glaciers, it sure was chilly!

Before sunset, as Sarah prepared to exit the tent to go to the bathroom, she joked "I bet I'll get out there and there will be a bear". to which I replied "oh come on, they're long gone."

Sure enough, 5 seconds after she poked her head through the door, she came back in saying that there indeed was a bear around camp. I jumped out with my bearspray, and started yelling at our recent acquaintances from the day before, who had returned to the lake and were on the opposite side, some 100m away. Once again, as Sarah came out and joined me in banging pickets together and yelling, the group bolted over some steep slabs that lead to the glacier. I had no idea where they were escaping to, but it seemed to me that the only route of escape back down the valley was through a 100m wide corridor in the middle of which we were camped. Needless to say, we had a stressful evening, although we fell asleep very quickly. We also decided to head back down valley the next morning and give the bears some space.

August 12th

Our earliest day on the trip, we were up by 6:25 and moving by 7:00. We descended quickly past the small stream and into the alluvial plain. As we crossed it we spotted the family of bears again, and traversed high towards the Friendly valley while yelling loudly. We knew that the creek draining the Friendly glacier was quite strong, and we wanted to use the same, relatively safe crossing that we used the previous day. We retraced our steps all the way back up the forested shoulder of Friendly peak and into the Friendly valley, across the creek and back down towards the creek draining the miserable glacier.

We decided to ascend a moraine before dropping into this valley to see what was going on; on our way up we scared off another grizzly by shouting. At the top of the moraine, a fat sow with two chubby little cubs were also scared away after we yelled at them. The bear count for the day was now seven!

We descended the creek bed looking for aplace to cross, but we didn't find anything until the downed tree that we had used almost a week ago.

Once back on the gravel flats of the Tchaikazan river bed, we stopped for a break and to change our wet socks. We inhaled some rations, and continued on the river bed until we were forced to climb onto the bank. We continued along the river in open forest for several km until we finally reached the large clearings some 2km from the cabin. Sarah was getting very dehydrated so we raced to a pair of braided glacier streams, which were now very swollen, and after drinking a lot of water we painfully continued until the friendly red cabin came into view.

We dropped to the ground, having covered in 8 hours what took us 2 days to walk up. A fire was quickly built, and we made soup and a huge vegetable, ground beef and rice curry with coconut cream powder. We hoovered it all down and sat aroudn the fire, reading by headlamp until fairly late.

August 13th

I only managed to drag Sarah out of bed for 8:00, despite the beautiful weather. We were hoping to climb the 2868-metre peak that rises above the basin near Spectrum pass today, and we had a long way to go. At 9:00 we were off and slowly made our way up the Tchaikazan-yohetta trail towards Spectrum pass. Forest gives way to meadows after about one hour, and soon we were in the tree-less alpine. The scenery here looks more like the Chilcotins than the rugged and glaciated Tchaikazan valley.

Grades are mellow, scree is plentiful and the ridge tops are rounded. The bottom of the upper valley is covered in grass, and a creek set in a fairly deep canyon runs from mid-way up the valley to the Tchaikazan river. We ascended up the basin, getting spectacular views of the North face of our objective and the impressive glacier clinging to it. Near the 2000m mark we veered into this sub-valley, ascending a scree ridge to the West of the peak.

On the way we stopped on a bench to eat, drink and swat flies. The West ridge of our objective looked impossible to scramble due to a very steep and tall slabby step on the ridge, so we decided that we might try to climb another peak from the ridge crest. We then scrambled up the ridge around some volcanic-looking pinnacles of fine choss, until we could easily traverse left between the ultra-chossy looking peak above and a pocket glacier.

We ascended scree, then skirted cliffs on the glacier to the crest of the ridge extending West of our objective. Once on the ridge we got outstanding views of the basin on the South side of this ridge as well as some of the major peaks of the Tchaikazan valley. Sarah was feeling tired, but after a few rations and a short rest she suggested that we check out the West ridge anyway. From here, we could see that behind the slabby step was scree, and things looked better.

The next kilometre along the ridge, featuring a bit of ice and scrambling but otherwise negligible elevation gain, was quick. Our efforts were thwarted by views of Chilko lake, the Good Hope mountian group, and Waddington making its presence known through the light haze.

Once at the bottom of the scramble route, we traversed onto the South face of the mountain, crossing scree and a number of tricky yet unexposed gullies that went to class 3. We were able to traverse below the slabs, then ascend a gully to regain the ridge crest beyond them. Once on the crest, the last 100m of the peak were very fun scrambling.

One difficult step involved scrambling up a short loose vertical section with little exposure, or climbing an easier but sloping step where one could literally fall off the mountain. We split up on this one and met up again a few metres beyond, where the rest of the ridge was mostly class 2 with the odd class 3 boulder. Exposure was again minimal, and as we reached the summit around 4:00, the difficulties were over. A fine viewpoint this was, and we thoroughly enjoyed it as it would be the high point of our trip - lower than the 3000m peaks we hoped to climb, but extremely scenic and enjoyable nonetheless.

We took in the scenery for a few minutes, took pictures and each ate the last of our food. We had a bit of water left.

We originally intended to descend the same way we came, but somewhere on the traverse below the slab we decided to descend the SE face, which was scree, and to bushwhack back down to the river.

From here we could follow our course from the previous day back to camp, thus completing a traverse of the mountain. We picked our way down scree around a huge gendarme, then skiied down hundreds of metres of fine scree. At a bench in the ridge, we angled East into a sandy gully, where for 300 metres the footing was treatcherous - my most loathed terrain, after friction slab, is hard steep dirt where you can't make steps. The nerves got a break when we reached grass, and soon we were bushwhacking through avalanche paths filled with dense conifers. Soon enough though, we found a series of interconnected meadows which we followed almost down to the river. We found a flagged trail that led North along the river towards the cabin, and foillowed this until we lost it. From here, it was one long, dehydrated and foot-aching hour back to the little red cabin, where we ate a fantastic meal featuring chocolate pudding, read a bit, then passed out for our last night in the Tchaikazan valley.

August 14th

We slept in today. There were 10 kilometres back to the car, and we honestly didn't care what time we got there. We really wanted nothing to do with civilization, except for greasy food. The multiple bags of chips that we were going to destroy, along with the plentiful restaurant food available in Williams lake are what made us travel so fast on the weay out. We had a leisurely breakfast, then packed fast and left. We waved good-bye to the little red cabin, and one by one to the peaks that had been our friends for the last 10 days. As we marched on at our fastest pace possible, still laden with kilos and kilos of fuel, climbing gear and ropes, we watched the upper valley disappear behind a veil of dense trees. See you later, Tchaikazan.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 08:55 AM
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Took me two cups of coffee to read every single word ! Benoit,and Sarah, this is one damn fine trip report and a great story of a wilderness adventure you will undoubtedly be talking about for decades ! [8D]
Thanks for taking the time to write it up in such detailed fashion ! The captions really add to the story. Pure inspiration, I wasn't there, but I am stoked nevertheless

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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 09:14 AM
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Two drinks worth, two thumbs up. Looks like a wonderful trip.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 09:28 AM
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What an epic trip! Incredible photos of such a remote area. words really can't describe this sort of effort other than well done! Both as a trip and a report. I enjoyed vicariously living it with you.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 09:34 AM
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wow what an epic trip! Love the detail and the captions, they do make it a whole lot more enjoyable to read I have never been in that area but I sure want to now.
Kudos to both of you for slogging your way up there and finding your own little Shangra La
How far apart were the two sets of sows with 2 cubs? Could they have been the same ones?
I'd be a little surprised to see them in close proximity to each other .

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post #6 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 10:12 AM
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Nice one holmes! I'm infinitely jealous.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 10:24 AM
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Awesome trip!

One common thread with trip reports from Tsylos seems to be grizzly sightings.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 11:38 AM
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Great trip and great trip report! That is such a jaw-droppingly beautiful area. At the same time you were there I was with a friend in the somewhat nearby Pantheon Range but heck we helicoptered in. You guys did it the old - fashioned way - walked in. Thanks for posting such a thouough TR!
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 11:55 AM
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Don't be too discouraged by the fact that your pictures and story will get less views then one of hiking to Elfin Lakes. This was one one of the most well-written trip reports I've had the privilege of reading - chock full of details and laden with useful beta and stunning pictures.

I was hoping to get some more beta on the Yohetta trail for a mountain bike expedition but this TR did not disappoint. Only one suggestion - more pictures of the Singapore curry noodles~!

That shot of Waddington looming in the distance was beyond words. I'm in awe
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 12:27 PM
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Now that's what it's all about [^]! Awesome!!!!! You haven't written a report in a while Ben but man was it worth the wait .

That was a totally unforgettable trip you & Sarah had. Wonderful
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 01:07 PM
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Wow, that's some pictures alright! Thanks for posting.

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post #12 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 02:17 PM
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Im soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo jealous dude.....
marc_leclerc is offline  
post #13 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 02:48 PM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
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Posts: 336

quote:Originally posted by willis
One common thread with trip reports from Tsylos seems to be grizzly sightings.
I was in Tchaikazan last August, and we saw one grizzly bear, but there was a *lot* of bear signs in the valley. From the bear scat we saw, the grizzlies are in that valley eating their "greens", it looked like they were eating lots of roots and/or leaves.

I can't find reference to it, so I'm not sure if I read this on the internet somewhere or heard it from a one of the locals we chatted with when I was up there, (or if my head just made it up somehow ...) but the grizzly bear population in and around Tchaikazan is very high in mid to late summer (mid-July to mid-September). The bears then migrate to the ocean draining rivers in time for the salmon runs.

We took care to hang our food bags in a tree, although we never made camp in an open space away from the forest, but bringing bear-proof food canisters is probably not a bad idea if making camp higher up.

We camped next to the flood plain, where there were a number of large pools of water that got only very little inflow from the river and so warmed up very nicely for washing and swimming in the afternoon. Turns out a grizzly had the same idea, and we observed him blasting from pool to pool like an over-excited dog, spraying huge rooster tails of water behind him as he went. It took him a couple minutes before he noticed us, then he stood on his legs for a bit, then took off like a shot into the forest.

Wheat is offline  
post #14 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
Off the Beaten Path
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Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada.
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Wheat: the bear you photographed looks huge. Its proportions are different from the bears we saw. Maybe it's a male?
We saw almost no evidence of bears on the standard hiking loop part. But in the alluvial fans... oooh boy!! That's where they liked to hang out.

Leel: There is basically no trail as far as I can tell in the alpine. It may be rough going on a mountain bike.

Oldman: the two pairs were not the same ones. I saw one sow from 10 metres and the other one from about 30. You can clearly see the first cubs are tall and lanky where the others are short and fat. The second sow was significantly fatter.
As for the bear in the forest, is was much lighter in color.

All these bears were within 2 km of each other. Incredible, isn't it?
There is definitely a lot of grizzly activity, and it was all concentrated in the gravel flats below glaciers. Strange as there's really not much food here... or so it seems, anyway.

Thanks for all the comments. It took a lot of work to write this TR, I'm glad some people enjoyed it.

gyppo is offline  
post #15 of (permalink) Old 09-21-2008, 04:39 PM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Posts: 336

quote:Originally posted by gyppo

Wheat: the bear you photographed looks huge. Its proportions are different from the bears we saw. Maybe it's a male?
We saw almost no evidence of bears on the standard hiking loop part. But in the alluvial fans... oooh boy!! That's where they liked to hang out.
When we first saw the bear strole out from the woods and cross the meadows we first thought (or at least hoped!) that it might be a moose since it looked so big. It looked very "bear-like" as it approached, but when it forded the main branch of Tchaikazan like it was walking across a small stream we thought, "maybe it *is* a moose, a bear couldn't be that big!"

When we hiked into the valley, we lost the main trail somewhere between the first outfitter's camp and the cabin, and ended up going upslope quite a ways. Higher upslope the forest is relatively open, interspersed with lots of small meadows - it was in these meadows that we observed great amounts of bear poop.
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