MOUNTAIN LIFE - Coast Mountains | Winter Spring 2017 - page 81

words :: RichardMoxon
photography :: Erik Parker & Ric Moxon
Creativity breeds uncertainty. And uncertainty is what fuels the fire in our
bellies and drives exploration, innovation and adventure.
In the spring of 2016, that creative fire and desire to discover “What if?”
led us to the Boundary Range, the largest andmost northern subrange of
the Coast Mountains, to answer a simple question: What happens when
youmix whitewater kayakers and ski mountaineers?
Our plan in a nutshell: kayak down the legendary Stikine River into the
Boundary Range, climb to 7,000 feet (2,134metres), ski epic lines and
kayak out toWrangell, Alaska to catch a ferry back. Job done.
When the idea was first put forth, it sounded like a no-brainer. We asked
ourselves: “Why has no one done this before? It seems so simple and
logistically, it’s a dream…” Then we started to domore research. The
Boundary Range stretches from the southern Yukon, down the lowest
reaches of Alaska and into the upper reaches of BC’s North Coast. The
Stikine freezes solid every winter and, depending on the year, can stay
frozen intoMay or even June. But the teamwas strong and eager to go
find out for ourselves.
Brian Fletcher is best described as an ‘underground savage,’ with Sherpa-
like stamina and an expedition resume longer than anyone I know. Eric
Parker and Erik Johnson are absolute soul riders who share an aptitude
for adventure and a desire to get after it at any opportunity. Known for my
good attitude in the face of even the most ambitious objectives, I felt we
had a dream team, the perfect crew for the trip that would venture deep
into uncertainty, and one of the most pristine zones in the province.
From the start, we knew everything hinged on the river, or more
specifically the ice. The winter in Northern BC had been unseasonably
warm, which gave us hope, but by nomeans a free pass. After contacting
numerous heli operators in the area, we lucked out—a local Dease Lake
pilot had flown the canyon from Telegraph Creek toMud Glacier (a large
chunk of river section we planned to paddle) and informed us that it
was ice-free. For confirmation, we called the Telegraph Creek native band
office. Bad news—they told us the river was still fully iced over.
Time for a team talk. The consensus? “Surely a heli pilot’s observations
must be more accurate than that of someone working in an office.”Was it
testosterone-fuelled, blind optimism? Only time would tell. We packed our
gear and rallied north.
Our plan inanutshell: kayakdown the
legendaryStikineRiver into theBoundary
Range, climb to7,000 feet (2,134metres), ski
epic linesandkayakout toWrangell, Alaska to
catcha ferryback. Jobdone.
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