Hansen to share adventures
On the first day of a two-week stay at Mount Fairweather in the Saint Elias Mountains last May, Nancy Hansen and climbing partners Marco Delesalle and Christina Brodribb watched gape-mouthed as a massive avalanche roared down the mountainside right toward their camp.
“We were in our camp, and our camp was one kilometre from the base of the wall,” Hansen described. “It was huge, it came down 7,500 feet.”
The avalanche, which Hansen captured on video, was just one of the things that made their successful climb of Fairweather, at 4,670 metres one of the world’s highest coastal mountains straddling the border of Alaska and B.C., a memorable experience.
“It was a successful trip and a big adventure,” Hansen said. “We could see the ocean from our base camp and the entire way up the route we could either see the ocean or the clouds covering it. It was remote and wild country.”
Contrary to its name, the mountain’s location just 20 km from the Pacific endows it with frequently stormy weather. While their flight in by fixed-wing aircraft from Haines, Alaska was “just spectacular, one of the most beautiful flights any of us have ever taken,” during their week-long ascent of the Carpe Ridge, a nasty storm pinned the group in their tiny tent for three days at 3,660 metres.
“We had high winds, we had sunshine,” Hansen said. “We had a bit of everything.”
That bit of everything includes Hansen’s own fall into a crevasse.
“It was the first one that was over my head,” she said. “It was six feet deep.”
Fortunately, she was roped to her partners, who helped her escape unscathed.
Hansen’s ascent of Mount Fairweather will be one of the stories she shares at her slide show at the Alpine Club of Canada Clubhouse on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Titled Chasing the 50 Classic Climbs of North America, as listed in Roper and Steck’s book of the same name, Hansen will also tell of her recent climb of a 305-metre D1 route on The Diamond on Colorado’s 4,343-metre Longs Peak, marking her 43rd summit in her quest.
“It was technical rock climbing at 14,000 feet,” she said. “Good fun!”
Another favourite story she plans to relate is a climb of the north face of Mount Edith Cavell last summer with her husband, Doug Fulford, with whom she’s shared nearly 20 years of climbing adventures.
“It was spectacular, one of the best alpine routes we’ve ever done,” she said. “One of the things we loved about it was we think we may have been the only people to climb Edith Cavell all last summer. The regular west ridge route was never in shape last summer and it was late August and there was no evidence of any other people having been up there.”
Admitting not all her climbs fall into the spectacular category, Hansen said she also planned to shares images from her 2011 ascent of Mount Robson’s Wishbone Aręte.
“It was one of the worst alpine routes I’ve ever done in my life,” she said.
Anyone who wants to find out why can check out Hansen’s show at the ACC Clubhouse on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Admission is free and open to all. The presentation begins at 7 p.m.
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