/ Lotus Flower Tower partners wanted

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hatman - on 24 Nov 2012
Intending to do the Lotus Flower Tower next summer (end of July/all of Aug) and need partners up for a true adventure. To avoid the $3,500 cost of the float plane am intending to paddle for a week down two rivers (Little and South Nahanni), which seem to have infrequent grade 3 rapids, do the LFT (18 pitches of HVS/E1 with one short section of E2, then continue for another week down the Nahanni till the confluence with the Liard and take public transport back to the car. Anyone up for this give me a holler
The Ex-Engineer - on 24 Nov 2012
In reply to hatman: Sounds an interesting plan.

It is probably worth your while setting up a UKC profile so people have a better idea about you and your climbing background.
jon on 24 Nov 2012
In reply to hatman:

Having to take all that time to get in and out on the Nahanni doesn't really save the float plane fare. I'd advise you revising the grade as well. In a remote area like the Cirque of the Unclimbables, all climbers need a bit of a margin. Certainly allowing a couple of weeks for it is a good idea - we went in for 15 days and did it on our second day. We then had 12 days of rain and snow...
In reply to jon: Ditto.

We had a month in there, teo weeks waiting for a weather window, then did it in a day, another week waiting for another break in the weather and did a new route in another part of the cirque.

28 days in total and 3 days climbing!

Also use Inconnu Lodge as Warren is a great pilot and even better host. He also supplied a Satphone for his clients.

jon on 24 Nov 2012
In reply to Mark Reeves:

Where was your new route Mark? We did one on West Huey Spire - only to find out a couple of weeks later that it was a second ascent.
In reply to jon: Can't remember, but it was in AAC journal and we left a topo in main camp. I probably have a topo somewhere. It was over ten years ago now.

I am suddenly feeling the need for another adventure.

If I remember if might have been phenocryst spire? Called Hustler!

Please remember home editing had only just been invented!
ashtond6 - on 26 Nov 2012
In reply to hatman:
Would love to do it and have the capacity to do it next year... would look to maximise time in the area to ensure there is a weather window!

Mal Grey - on 26 Nov 2012
In reply to hatman:

Sounds amazing. But doing the Nahanni (one of the absolute best big river canoeing adventures in Canada) is going to cost you more than that if you use an outfitter, and if not, how will you get to the start with canoes? Typical price for doing the Nahanni - US$6000...

hatman - on 30 Nov 2012
So of course this is all ideas waiting for a shakedown, but the current plan is: to use our own raft (have access to a 14ft gear (oar) raft which is comfortable for 4 but could take 5. Will drive to the end of the road on Yukon Territories 7 (I think its this road off the top of my head), paddle the Little Nahanni which feeds into the South Nahanni, finish this to Fort Liard (obviously via the Cirque). From here I am still awaiting a reply from the greyhound company whether they'd let us take our raft on the bus. If not then we can rent a vehicle to get back to Fort Nelson. Drop everyone and everything there at a motel, and they get everything cleaned/tidy and ready for the return journey while 2 people drive north and pick up the original vehicle used to access the start.
Obviously this will not cost as much money as doing it through an outfitter, or going by float plane. It will be incredibly more involved than either of those options, but that's exactly what I'm trying to achieve - a real adventure! The cost will be even better if Greyhound's response is positive. The Nahanni Rangers have been really helpful, and while there's still tons to finalise, I'm hopeful that many of the basics of this plan are realistic. Of course, as with all plans, things may need to be revised or scrapped in totality. That's adventure by definition. Thanks for the grade input - of course, its always a little subjective! Thanks, but No intention of robbing myself of the real adventure by doing it by outfitter. Thanks but No intention of paying 3,500 for the float plane - will bring my own Sat phone!
Adam Long - on 01 Dec 2012
In reply to hatman:

Full respect if you pull it off, there are some great trip reports around that make it sound doable, but as Mark says you'll need to get lucky with the weather as its unlikely you'll be able to take enough food to hang around in the Cirque. As far as the grades go, the crux pitch I would say is worth E3, there is a lot of E1 and nothing easier than HVS. Two of the hardest pitches are right at the top, physically draining and very exposed. In short, don't underestimate it! Even if there are only a couple of other parties there, chances are they will be going for it too, so crowding can be a problem.

Good luck, it'd certainly be an amazing adventure even if you don't top out. Good link here, at the end of the post are some more links inc. the online guidebook:
jon on 01 Dec 2012
In reply to hatman:

Here's some info - in no particular order - that you might find interesting (or not) Pick out what might help you.

My visit was in July/Aug 1981. Already it was quite a popular objective - when we arrived in Watson Lake a Belgian team had just come out. While we were there a French pair and a British pair (Ian and Louise - don't know second names) arrived separately. For our approach we took a bus to Tungsten and a helicopter from there right into the Cirque. I don't think this is an option now. We flew out by float plane from Britnell/Glacier Lake to Watson Lake. Both the French and Brits failed to climb the route.

I know two teams who went there in 1980. One was Nipper Harrison who was a Bristol/Pembroke leading climber of the time. He succeeded but failed to free climb the crux - this was an E5 leader. The other will be more interesting to you. It was Alun Hughes, now film maker - Stone Monkey among others. They used the Nahanni approach in small inflatable rafts they'd bought in a hardware shop somewhere. They also succeeded but I can't remember details of their ascent. I suspect it was done in the original style. Two American s also arrived during our stay. They were climbers but hadn't come to climb the LFT - just to touch it! They were also canoeing/rafting the Nahanni.

We climbed two other things during our stay. One was the FA of a one pitch crack on the big wall just behind Fairy Meadow - we placed a thread at the top of it where it petered out, to get down - I think a photo of it featured in the American magazine 'Climbing' annual diary a few years back, noted FA unknown! Also we climbed a route on Middle Huey Spire (not West as I said above). This turned out to be a 2nd ascent, not a FA as I met the FA-ists in the Bugaboos a week later.

I'm sure it'll be a fantastic adventure. I'd re-iterate - at the expense of repeating myself - don't underestimate the weather problems and even more importantly don't underestimate the difficulty of the route. I realise now that you've posted your profile, that this shouldn't pose too much of a problem to you as you've done this sort of thing before - but again saying HVS/E1 with a short section of E2 is drastically understating it. Don't saddle yourself with a partner who isn't up to it. Maybe you've just translated American to British grades? I take it you are American? In 1981 E grades were only just appearing so I can't really give you an idea even though we free climbed it, but I'm sure Adam is right with his assessment of E3. Jonny2vests who posts here reckons E3 too.

It's also worth noting that in 1981 there was no rap route back down the top of the route, only from the midway ledge - the descent was climbing/rapping down a horrific couloir to the left of the tower. This meant that nearly all ascents at the time were over two days with a bivvy on the middle ledge. Given the fickle nature of the weather I'd certainly advise against this. We climbed it and descended in one long 21 hour day - not very fast, but the descent occupied a lot of that. If we'd bivvied on the ledge we'd have woken to a couple of feet of snow in the morning.
Ulrik Hasemann on 01 Dec 2012 -
In reply to hatman:
Just watched this nice video of the route and thought you might be interested. If for nothing else then getting the psyche up! Looks really good! They also mention it being harder than expected and there is also something about the helicopter, so maybe it's still possible to get it.
pneame on 02 Dec 2012
In reply to Mark Reeves:
Super video - enjoyed that.
I now appreciate that slacklining is a useful skill (vis a vis crossing rivers)
hatman - on 02 Dec 2012
In reply to Adam Long: thanks for all that Adam. Will not underestimate it, and ta for that link. Funny, seeing that report by them last year is what prompted me to start planning this, so it kind of came round full circle thanks to you!
hatman - on 02 Dec 2012
In reply to jon: wow Jon, what a wonderful series of accounts. Thanks for your input, loved it.

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