All posts for the month December, 2013

The video link

A long time ago, I remember flying over the Coast Mountain Range. I stared out the window at the terrain below and the guy next to me said, “I’d sure hate to be lost down there!” I thought about how much fun that would be. I’ve been on the plane over those mountains many times since and I knew I’d have to spend some time there.

The trip I had planned required some capability so we assembled the right crew – Reid Roberts, Colin Miller, Aaron Bond, Scott Kestleloot  and Geoff Mulligan. I distinctly remember the call with the float plane company. He was a bit confused as to what I was asking.

“Six of you, going to Taseko? Oh, that’s too heavy for the Beaver. The max payload is 1200 pounds.”

“We’ll be under a 1000,” I said.

“Six guys with gear? You’ll have heavy packs. It’s a long way.”

“Our average weight is maybe 165 and our packs will be about 3 pounds each.”

“3 pounds?”

“Yeah, we’re going to run back after you drop us.”

“That’s like 90 kilometers through the mountains….”

He agreed after I paypalled the funds in advance. Not sure if that’s standard.

We all met up the morning of the flight at the Tyax Wilderness Resort. Aaron was sleeping in a kids play tent. Geoff was laughing at him with the heavy rainfall they had through the night.

We met the pilot at the float plane dock and we went over the plan. There were some tricky parts to the route and I was concerned about the snow level above 7,000′. We wanted to get as much ridge running as possible and stay to the line of mountains but some of our proposed route looked real sketchy so we convinced the pilot to fly us by those sections.

It was about a thirty minute flight to Taseko lake. We hit the beach, arranged our gear and headed for an old mining trail that would lead us into the alpine. It was about 25 km to Warner pass. We did some quick route finding and we  saw a lot of grizzly sign. This was great because instead of bear bangers and spray, we opted for gels, drink mix and food to keep our packs light. We took comfort in Geoff’s expert sounding statistic that a party of six or larger has never been attacked by a grizzly bear.

The west side of the route was dry and we steadily gained altitude, broke the treeline and hit the top of Warner Pass. It was spectacular. The large coastal mountains surrounded us. Instead of heading into the next valley, we headed up onto Warner Mountain. It was a little sketchy and then we looked over and saw Colin free climbing up a chute that scared us to just look at. He  nonchalantly met us on top, downplaying the epic feat.

Running east from Warner pass was tough. It’s a rocky, steep on both sides ridge. The group was strong, the scenery was beyond belief and we were all smiles. It took a long time with a lot of technical ridge running but we eventually hit the smoother topped Deer Pass and hooked up with some mountain bike trails. This was the Southern Chilcotin Mountains at it’s best. We dropped into the grassy alpine and made our way down into the trees and to Trigger Lake.

This was a very tough run and everyone’s strength showed. After seven or eight hours of hard running, we were still moving fast. We met up with a group of mountain bikers on a day trip and tried racing them. We leap frogged for  a while and they lost us on the flat.

We continued in the treeline, passing through beautiful meadows, crossing clean and swift creeks and ran through a landscape of indescribable beauty. As dark started to fall, we got that hit of dusk energy and made our way out to a logging road where Erin was waiting with the car to drive us to the lodge.  The six of us, caked in dirt and smelling like long dead yaks, piled in. I am not sure how Erin could stand it and I think she may have even more willpower than her husband Colin.

We ran 89 kilometers, climbed almost 3,000 vertical meters topping out above 9,000 feet. It took us about ten and half hours moving time running.

A hard run through some tough mountains with a great group of friends. Does it get any better?

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