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King Creek - 2013-2014 season

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  • King Creek - 2013-2014 season

    Call me desperate, but I went in and climbed the main flow today (Nov 4 2013). Good thin fun for the first go this season. Unintentionally met with 4 old friends who were already there running laps on Top Rope.

    On lead, It took 3 stubbies and 1 16cm screw near the top. The only one I would have wanted to blink an eye at is the 16 - the rest were really only there for show and tell.

    Mid-section was very hollow sounding and made for a very interesting war-drum like sound that loudly resonated throughout the canyon. Couple small shifts where felt underfoot as well. It held either way.

    Of note, there was a fairly large sluff (let's call it a sluff) that came down on the wall directly behind the main flow as I was climbing. It made the entire wall disappear. Not a huge deal per say, but since the hiking trail now goes directly underneath that wall, it's worth noting.

    The small pillar to the left of the main flow was good fun too.

    Took 30 minutes from car. Hike in isn't really all that bad at all.

    Thin, desperate fun:


  • #2
    Went in on Monday (Nov. 11). Most of the routes were dry with some good screw placements.

    Approach is straightforward but the creek is running. Take at least one hiking pole to make the creek crossings more pleasant.


    • #3
      Climbed the KC area on Sunday 16-Feb. Trail in has changed a little with the floods but was reasonable anyway. I know some guides advocate beacon, shovel, probe, for travel through the area and Sunday it would have made sense except I don't own a beacon... sorry Pat - a transceiver.

      Our strategy was to cross the avi chutes one at a time while the second person watched and kept an eye uphill. A lot of wind, spindrift, and snow transport.

      The climbs are all in good shape, and although the creek has moved closer to the climbs (I heard it was at the base of the curtain from the cave) it's currently possible to belay with dry feet. The curtain was actually fun, steep, and longer than before with a few feet of ground washed away. A couple of ice bridges there, and a nice wet pool between them for if you fall off. It was actually filling with snow so might freeze over but if it does, watch for a booby trap for a few days.


      • #4
        Maybe it's just me but If you (as in general population) think you need a beacon on any given day to go into King Creek, you might want to just go and drink coffee or do something with ZERO hazard.

        And Nakiska would have phenomenal Pow skiing...

        I know we are trying to change bad habits and encourage better practises but if we need a beacon in to King Creek, we need it for Grotto and the Junkyard... And the walk in would just simply suck and be easier with touring gear.

        But I know absolutely nothing so don't take my poor choice of words...
        The \"Old\" French Guy


        • #5
          I'm going to go with "maybe just you". I mentioned avi conditions because one person in there said they thought they heard a release, because I thought I saw fresh debris in one of the chutes, and because a couple of climbers we ran into when leaving got spooked and turned around instead of going further. As I said, there was a lot of wind, a lot of spindrift, and a lot of snow being transported.

          I don't own a transceiver, but that doesn't mean I don't see the benefit of them. If you're trying to make a case that KC hasn't got avi hazard and wouldn't benefit from using beacons in there, then I'd say you're doing a huge disservice to inexperienced climbers or folks who don't know better. A few years ago myself and three friends turned around from our objective because of perceived avi hazard and chose to go to KC instead. We decided the risk was low enough to be acceptable in there. However the next climb over from where we decided against saw someone killed in an avi.

          So where am I going with this point? Well KC most certainly has avi hazard. Fortunately that danger comes primarily from chutes you walk below, not climb below. This means exposure time is minimal.

          The slopes above some of the climbs could present some hazard under poor poor conditions. Maybe this would be a fair comparison to the junkyards. I fail to see how they would compare to Grotto. Your analogy falls apart at this point. Either you haven't been in KC so you're unaware of the terrain. Or you have and you failed to recognize the huge piles of avi debris you usually have to walk over by the end of winter. The point here is that the biggest (not necessarily only hazard) comes from the chutes running down into the creek.

          I guess the final point I want to make is that King Creek is far from free of avi hazard but it's still an acceptable place to go when the bulletins are in the red - provided certain cautions are used. Beacons probes and shovels are not a bad idea although watching the chutes, moving one at a time below them, and moving fast is not a bad strategy either.

          Maybe people who don't know better should stay home when the avi hazard is high, but giving them cause to think KC is safe and they can just saunter in there is not fair. I wouldn't want any other climber to go through the crap I did as a consequence following my own avi involvement.


          • #6
            I guess I didn't make myself clear enough Grant so let me clarify.

            King Creek as well as Grotto and the Junkyard are considered, by the climbing community as a good choice in High hazard day. And most people know that there is an acceptable risk ( still avi hazards) since the climbs are not directly affected ( generally)

            However, in KC, still overhead hazards on some climbs. As well, some slopes on the approach to Grotto could come down into the terrain trap. Same for the Junkyards.

            My point is that if you feel "like" you "need" avi gear in KC (or other), you should probably stay home in front of a cosy fire, drinking coffee because the hazard is so high.

            I have been to all those areas for the last 20 years and I have seen debris on approach as well as the base of some climbs.

            So you are correct, there is hazards in KC. However, it is not the general consensus to consider these areas sensitive for avi hazards... Only in high to extreme cases, with rapid loading, wind howling and quick temperature changes.

            Not to give a dismissal on the hazards but I think your most valuable tool in these areas is your head. Not a beacon.

            And nothing wrong with bringing the gear IF you have it.

            Some of my friends have had their fair share of scary exposure (so did you I can assume) but education is key, not fear.

            Hope I stand corrected and be safe out there.

            The \"Old\" French Guy


            • #7
              Sylvain - I had to reread your post a couple times because it seems we're saying very similar things. The written word has downsides as opposed to chatting over beers where clarity is much more easily achieved.

              Anyway I wasn't trying to scare anyone into staying home or to stay out of KC, but rather education by advocating additional caution. The conditions you list as high to extreme needing extra caution were definitely present last weekend. I listed them in my post.

              As experienced climbers, you and I are aware of the caveats associated with areas considered as "avi safe" when the bulletins are high. However remember there are newbies out there who have not yet accumulated the experience or skills to properly assess the hazards. When they read posts about an area being "safe" it may well lead to them blundering into a situation without taking the cautions you or I perform without hardly thinking. In essence, they haven't yet got that "head" you refer to.

              BTW aren't we about due to run into each other again soon? Hope it's not too long and beer is involved again.


              • #8
                "Good Judgement comes from Experience but Experience comes from bad Judgement..."

                Can't hold everyone's hands!

                You know I'm getting old when I can't remember having a brew with you!

                Play safe and use your "experience".

                The \"Old\" French Guy


                • #9
                  Well judging from a text I got this morning Sylvain, I'd say you're in good company. It appears it was the other Sylvain that I had beers with so I'm officially old and confused :crazy:

                  I'm sure we'll meet some day. Cheers with the beers when we do!!! :grin:


                  • #10
                    I won't weigh in directly on whether King Creek is "safe" from avy hazard or whether i'd bring avy gear, but I will say I think the community has nothing to lose from increased awareness. So I have something to offer...

                    *************** See disclaimer below****

                    This is a very quick and dirty version of a hazard map for the King creek area. The imagery is what I could scrounge off the interwebs for free. I do hazard mapping like this as part of my job and I'm happy to do a little for climbers or skiers.

                    If people see the value in this there are many options that could be explored, some cost money, some only time. Money could get us better images that would allow for more precise and complete mapping (i'd say up to $500 per 5km2 area as a rough estimate). Time could allow for these maps to simply be cleaner and up to the standards of the paid work I do. Time in the form of input of others could confirm of dis-confirm the accuracy of the line work (field checking is often helpful to distinguish between landslide paths and avalanche paths).

                    Anyways, I thought I'd run this up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes.

                    If it is useful to anyone other than myself I'll gladly make some more and improve on this one when I have the time.

                    I have a few ideas for improvements such as:

                    - delineating areas when paths overlap the common access and climbs more clearly

                    - markers for climb locations (I don't actually know where they are on here)

                    - lines showing preferred access routes

                    - prevailing wind direction

                    - show alpine/treeline/sub topo lines

                    and so on..

                    I was thinking that i could make these for the more popular climbing areas and potentially move on to some ski areas.

                    Grant, I know you do some work with CASA, do you think they'd get behind an initiative like this?

                    Feedback welcome!


                    This map is not intended to be comprehensive, not is it intended to keep you safe. Its sole purpose is to make you aware of SOME of the potential hazards in the area. You safety is your responsibility alone. This map is a work in progress.


                    • #11
                      Great idea. I've seen these types of maps/hazard photos at trailheads before (Healey Creek), and wondered why Parks don't put them up more frequently.


                      • #12
                        Likely because they can be really expensive!


                        • #13
                          Nice job Derek. At some point maybe all ice climbing approaches could be mapped like that?

                          King Creek is still doing well. It was a reasonable temperature in there this past weekend. All flows are fat and climb well. Avalanche debris on the paths indicated above with dirt showing through most tracks. We did carry avalanche gear.

                          This zone will climb well into spring.