Chipmunk, Tenquille, Goat - June 6 - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 03:27 AM Thread Starter
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Default Chipmunk, Tenquille, Goat - June 6

There are some days in your life you will never forget. Watching a man fall from the sky and live yesterday was one of them. I'm still processing all that transpired and thus I shall start at the very beginning.

Spectrum and I finally managed to align our respective schedules. I have to admit it was nice to have company after weeks of hiking alone; life is simply more fulfilling and enjoyable with shared moments. We woke at 4am and were on the road by 4:30 on our way to Pemberton.

Road Conditions
The Hurley FSR and Hope Creek FSR are in excellent condition. They have been graded and currently have no water bars. You can drive about 11kms on the Hope Creek FSR, the remaining 2km must be done on foot. Here is where we parked, for the obvious reasons.



Animal signs
Trips with spottings of animal life are always good omens to me. On our drive a barn owl flew across our path. Three huge black bears, a tri-colored rabbit, and a deer, dashed across the road. It was going to be a good day. I thought is cliche to think we'd see Chipmunks on Chipmunk peak, but sure enough, we did.

Chipmunk Peak
We started our hike by walking the logging road to the cut block. We found flagging near the start of the trail. It goes the length of the short forest hike until you reach the meadow.



The meadows were beautiful! Bright green grass, yellow glacier lilies as far as the eye could see, sprinkled with fuzzy stemmed Western Pasque flowers. It was the first signs of "summer" I had seen at higher altitudes.





There is no path, markings, cairns, or flagging once you get out of the forest. The obvious peak is in sight but it's basically choose your own adventure up. We went up a very steep flower slope to get to the upper meadows. Like in the shire Frodo and I had second breakfast.

Patches of snow made the ascent wonderful and covered some of the scree. We found all kinds of animal tracks including cougar. Marmots and chipmunks squeezed at our approach and I remarked in awe how destructive the ground dwelling critters were on the soil.





Spectrum lead the ascent through the snow to the col and from there we saw the scree gully. I have no idea why anyone would choose to travel the gully as opposed to the nice black hard rock on the left edge. We found countless signs of mountain goats and nice little patches of grass on the summit.








This was truly an easy, enjoyable scrambled with beautiful views. Spectrum didn't even break a sweat. We snacked, took the obligatory summit photos, and enjoyed the panoramic views, unable to name any mountain around us.





We skidded downhill with glee and were back in the Opal Lake pass in 30 minutes! Tenquille was our next objective.



Tenquille - North Ascent
I had high hopes of swimming in Opal Lake and even brought a change of clothes hoping for a dip. Spectrum laughed when we saw it and said we'd likely need to bust out the ice axe to dip a toe. Tenquille's northerly exposure meant it was still in winter conditions. No flowers blooming here, just snow.



I happen to like steep and direct so we ignored the book's recommendations of taking the gradual shoulder and just went straight up the bowl. We acquired the ridge still moving on excellent consolidated snow. The top of the ridge was melted out half-and-half. We elected once again to stay on stable solid rock instead of risking a slip on steep snow. Always the gentleman, Alan gave me the lead and said, I got the last you, you take this one.





Big nice blocky warm rocks moved easily to the top. We both appreciated the heat as our feet were soaked. A second summit was soon at hand and we caught a glimpse of Pemberton far below. We had planned for no more so we sat down, enjoyed the views, snacked, and lounged. It was 2pm.



We speculated and searched for Finch and Goat. Neither of us was gonna say, but we were both clearly thinking it...Goat was tantalizing close. We both did the mental gymnastics of driving times and physical effort to get to this area again. We spotted the cairns and decided to at least "take a look" to the col.

Goat
At the col we saw a glacier below us and ramps that lead up to Goat. We moved along and spotted two paragliders circling the summit. Excitedly I told Alan to take a photo as they framed the views and the photo perfectly. We stood watching them a while and waved our hands in excitement screaming "hello". We were certain they saw us as they continued to ride the currents like eagles floating in the sky.

And then the airfoil crumpled. My heart started racing. A white emergency shoot got deployed. Alan and I stood paralyzed as we watched it spin uncontrollably round and round in a cork screw. The emergency shoot was unstable and was crumpling too. He was falling out of the sky unable to maneuver, dropping like a rock.





The last we saw he braced for impact bringing his legs up and then he vanished out of view. I feared the worst. This was scrambling territory. Steep cliffs, 50 degree snow slopes, death at every turn. We had no idea if he hit a rock ledge, fell off a cliff, or hit snow. I screamed are you okay over and over. I figured perhaps he could hear me, even if hurt, he'd know we were coming.

Alan is faster and stronger than I am. I told him to boot it up that summit and descend to the last spot we had seen him. I had my inReach in hand and was ready to send an emergency signal.

I reached the summit after what seemed like an impossibly long time. I looked right to see Alan down on a plateau. I looked left to the steep cliffs and to my disbelief saw his red airfoil. I yelled to Alan, I see him, I see him! Go back, go left! I dropped my pack at the summit cairn right next to the Kraft peanut butter summit register and ran down. He was moving, he was walking!

He was a jumble of lightweight canopy and legs. Adrenaline was pumping through everybody and the first thing he said to me was "This may seem odd, but can I please give you a hug?", to which I replied "can I?! I'm so incredibly happy you're alive!"

He spotted me only when I spotted him. Starring at each other from the summit of Goat and some random ledge. He told me he thought he was hallucinating, that I was some clever Inukshuk cairn, a trick of the eyes. His disbelief equal to mine.





I cannot over state how lucky he was.

We hadn't seen a living soul all day. These mountains were remote, rarely done, and the curious weekend habit of folks like Alan and I.
The chances of him falling out of the sky, surviving the fall, and landing on a snow ledge without injury are incredible enough. To then consider the vastness of the unnamed peaks we were surrounded by, the fortune of meeting a long haired girl and her companion to give you a hug and provide a way off the mountain...well it's almost incomprehensible.

This cat (whom I'll dub Sylvester) clearly had nine lives and he used up at least two!

We let him compose himself. Alan and I quickly went through the scenarios. We had no idea who this man was. We had just ascended 2 scramble summits, I don't expect normal people to manage that kind of terrain. Could we get him down? How would we go? What should we do next? Was he going to recover his paraglider and jump off the mountain again?

I checked in with him again and asked him how things were going. The airfoil was too tangled and he asked if he could hike out with us. That was a huge relief. I for one, didn't want to see him jump off another mountain. I offered my ice axe and gators. I had spare pants and my hiking poles. It ends up our Sylvester worked rigging for the movie industry but also had quite the outdoor life. 18 years of paragliding experience and mountaineering since he was 15 years old. He knew exactly how to work that ice axe and was familiar with the area having skied much of it. I don't know who was luckier, him or us.

And thus for the third summit, Goat, we signed the register. Alan and I had gotten there the conventional way (okay a little extra adrenaline was pumping), Sylvester, hmm he cheated and took a shortcut; we let him get away with it this time.

I insisted he eat my fine orange dark chocolate and chewy sour mango jellies. He was remarkably well composed after everything that had just transpired. A bright blue eyed, adventure hungry Englishman with a solid mountain tan.

We elected to walk down the smooth sloping glacier instead of going up Tenquille again. Climbing with a bulky 40lbs paraglider pack seemed sketchy in scramble terrain and would have been slow going.





I was bubbly at this point and full of energy. I ran down the snow delighted, elated, relieved. We had started out as two and ended as three. We had managed to hit three summits, retrieve an Englishman, and created a loop out of our route. 20km and 1800m later, we were still standing.





Alan and Sylvester were already day dreaming of cracking open the beers waiting in the truck. I never drink beer (ask anyone that knows me), today however I vowed to make an exception. Today REQUIRED a celebratory drink, a toast to life, to fortune, and luck. Sylvester promised if he won the lottery today he'd split it halfsies with me. I think he already won the lottery.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 03:45 AM Thread Starter
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Trip Stats
Distance: 20km
Elevation Gain: 1800m/5,938 ft



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post #3 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 03:48 AM
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Wow, amazing report. That must have been an absolutely terrifying ordeal to watch. I'm very glad it ended as well as it did!
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 09:55 AM
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Soo glad this report wan't accidentally deleted. Awesome recount.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 11:25 AM
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Wow!


excellent story.
I bet that is one trip you will never forget. Maybe end up in a magazine somewhere?!
Any causes for the Paraglider failure? Downdraft?
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 11:47 AM
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This is one of those days that will remain in your memory for years to come!
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 12:08 PM
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wow, how incredible. awesome TR!
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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@Aqua Terra. I wish I was more qualified to speculate on what went wrong with the paraglider...from what I heard, currents are finicky and can shift and change. A downdraft perhaps, cross wind...who knows? But in 18 years of flying he had never had to pull the emergency shoot. My personal theory is that he was clearly dropped from the sky so that Alan and I could get beta about completing a perfect loop and complete a trifecta of summits. The math totally works, two summits, two people. We couldn't have bagged a third without a third person right? And I wasn't looking forward to climbing up Tenquille anyway ))
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 01:35 PM
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Surprised he didn't have any theories why he went down, even with back up chute, but it don't matter now, its a great story with a happy ending. I assume your next trip will have a lot less excitement? or?
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 01:39 PM
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What happened with the other pilot? Did he fly off to get help?
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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@Dru the other paraglider watched and then flew off; we assumed to Pemberton to get help. The good news was these guys were equipped with C.B radios and SPOT and could actually communicate. He knew before we did where he had fallen and that he fell safely to a ledge. To Alan and I that information was completely lacking.

Last edited by Masiar; 06-08-2015 at 02:04 PM.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 02:39 PM
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Aside from almost watching a guy float down to his potential death or serious injury all depending on where luck, or fate or karma whichever you believe in would have him land, this trip was perfect and everything went smoothly. Great written TR so I'll just throw up a few pictures I took on this day.


Crossing a creek after the cut block, heading up towards Opal lake.


Meadows and flowers to snow to scree to the top of Chipmunk.








About to gain the North Ridge of Tenquille for abit of scrambling to the top to tick off number 2. Chipmunk in the background.










Anyone else see some faces in the snow?


Another face appears like a grinning cat?



All good on Goat until dunnnn dunnnn dunnnnn something doesn't look right.




After we found out he was alright, I remembered the book said there was a sub summit on Goat, which is where the summit register is for some odd reason. I"m so glad we decided to wander over to the actual summit which is higher by a tad bit.



The descent was awesome, and since we came down a different way we were quite abit left of our initial ascent trail. There was also a flagged route over this way which brought us back to our initial route. A perfect loop indeed.


His 45lb pack, some logging road walking and before you know it the 3 of us are drinking cold Pabst Blue Ribbon. Mmmmmm GMO's.


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Last edited by Spectrum; 06-08-2015 at 02:54 PM.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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I haven't posted this as public knowledge because I try not to spam people but I'm kinda proud that my little humble efforts are going to be featured. I made it a goal this year to hike 50,000 ft of vertical gain and simultaneously start a fund raising campaign to help rescue North Korean refugees. For the month of May I've managed 26,763 ft (95.3km) and raised $475 dollars. Today, LINK (Liberty In North Korea) emailed me and asked if they could feature my "creative" hiking pursuits on their Facebook page. YES YES YES! My stories can be read here.
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Last edited by Masiar; 06-08-2015 at 07:13 PM.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 06-08-2015, 07:04 PM
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I am glad it turned out all right with the man that fell from the sky. That looks like one hell of a great trip either way though. I love the photos!
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 06-09-2015, 12:42 PM
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Great trip and report! Very glad everything went well for the Sky man and that you were there to help and welcome him back to earth. sorry that he caused you such a scare.
Paragliders climb in thermals which are columns of rising air. Pretty amazing to think that air can be so powerful to lift the weight of a person and gear, at speeds of up to 10-15 km/h. The stronger a thermal the sharper it's edges can be. If a paraglider wing encounters this edge in just the wrong way it can deflate and collapse. Most of the time the pilot can recover but not always.
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