Expedition Details Expedition Dates: May 19 – June 10, 2007 Expedition Team Members: Beat Glanzmann (Haines Junction, Yukon) Eva Glanzmann (Haines Junction, Yukon) Ewald Grobert (Bern, Switzerland) Thomas Tetz (Tagish, Yukon) Tamara Goeppel (Whitehorse, Yukon)
On the 6th of June 2007, five individuals were for a few hours the highest people in Canada. Eva Glanzmann, Beat Glanzmann, Ewald Grobert, Thomas Tetz and Tamara Goeppel stood on top of the West Peak of Mount Logan shortly before midnight after a 12-hour non-stop effort on their summit push. Below is a brief outline on how the team prepared for this incredible journey.
Experience Beat Glanzmann has the most mountaineering and rock climbing experience of the team. His climbing resume includes such peaks as the Eiger (North Face), El Capitan (Yosemite) and Separate Reality to name a few. Beat is a very driven individual but he does not undertake anything lightly. He is a tenacious planner and his key obsession is safely. For all these reasons, the group nominated Beat as the team leader.
Eva Glanzmann has extensive outdoor experience as she operates a year round wilderness tourism business with her husband, Beat. The couple was originally from Switzerland before immigrating to Canada so they were very comfortable in the mountains. Eva excels in extreme conditions and has an endless supply of endurance. Due to her professional experience, she is very comfortable in an expedition environment.
Ewald Grobert not only had mountaineering and rock climbing experience but he was also acquainted with high altitude situations. He has been on the summit on several peaks in the Himalayan region. Ewald was also invited to join the team to round up the experience level of the team. A friend of Beat and Eva, and also known for his good sense of humour and calm manner.
Thomas Tetz has an athletic resume that includes six finishes in the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race with a best placing of second. He also competed in many Ironman races around the world and participated in long distance multi-sport adventure races. Although Thomas does not have mountaineering experience he is an avid rock climber and he is very familiar with extreme cold weather conditions. Friends of Thomas would describe him as an honest hard working individual with a very determined mind-set.
Tamara Goeppel was born and raised in the Yukon. She is an accomplished athlete in multi-day sport events such as the Eco-Challenge adventure race and the TransRockies Mountain bike race. Tamara has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and she is a novice rock climber. She did not have any previous technical mountaineering experience but she is a dedicated team player and tends to find a positive angle in almost every challenging situation. Motivation
For most people who have an attraction to the outdoors and to the mountains, Mount Logan has a particular calling. The peak is located in a very remote part of the world. The area is constantly influenced by the jet stream and the weather systems coming in from the Pacific Ocean. All these elements play a major role with any expedition on this mountain. Just under 6000m, Mount Logan is a respected peak in any climbers’ resume.
It was quite natural that on a particular New Year’s Eve celebration (Dec. 31st 2005) that the topic of climbing Mount Logan would enter the year-end discussions. Thomas and Tamara were also enjoying the conversation as well as the good red wine that was flowing abundantly. Before the old year ended, a pact was made between the four Yukoners to climb the mountain and the project was born.
The expedition was christened ‘Logan Expedition 2007: Team Life is Good.’
Route The team chose the King Trench route, which begins with Base Camp at approximately 2800 m and has a series of five Camps that bring the expedition through the lower end of the ‘Kings Trench’, up the glaciers to a 4000 m connector between the Logan Massif and Kings Peak called ‘King Col’ (Camp 2). The route then faces the ‘headwall’ and follows through a maze of crevasses and cirques to Camp 3. The next section will lead the team to Camp 4 at 5100m, which sits at the base of Prospector Col. This is the point when the climb becomes serious as the temperatures drop and the winds pick up. After Prospector Col, the team drops down to Camp 5 to prepare for the last push to the Summit.
Equipment Since safety was paramount, the team of five had two emergency satellite phones, 3 GPS units, 3 North Face Summit tents and a generous ration of food. Beat constructed the mountaineering sleds that were light in weight but large enough to carry heavy loads. Each individual had several pairs of expedition quality long underwear, socks, tops and pants.
The team also carried light efficient stoves (3) such as the MSR XGK. Using the stoves efficiently was very important. The set up involved a large pot wrapped with a heat exchanger, which was filled with snow and placed on the stove. A shovel blade was used as a platform to reflect heat. A slightly smaller pot with snow was placed on top of the larger one and the entire formation was covered with a fireproof hood. At lower elevations, black garbage bags were used to ‘pre-melt’ the snow to speed up the cooking process and conserve fuel.
Except for the lower camps, the team was roped together in a two and three person configuration. A 30m and a 60m rope was used and each team member had all corresponding climbing gear such as harnesses, carabineers, slings and ascenders to facilitate a safe ascend and possible rescue.
In regards to the ski equipment, Eva, Beat and Ewald opted for the Scarpa Matrix ski boot while Thomas and Tamara chose the Koflach Arctic boot. The former option gives more confidence for the skiing element of the trip while the later provides a more comfortable fit and has a high cold rating.
In the end, the ski boot option was far superior. With neoprene over boots providing an extra cold barrier, the person wearing the ski boot enjoyed more freedom skiing downhill than the mountaineering boot that sometimes forced the binding to release. Burdened with heavy packs, pulling a heavy sled at high elevation a lot of effort was needed to constantly reattach boots to bindings.
Communications Traditionally, the satellite phones were used almost daily to glean weather reports. These reports were very important especially if the team was pushing towards a new camp.
Beat also had devised a unique system in order for the Team members to stay in communication with family and friends during the expedition. Every two or three days Beat called his father in Switzerland and gave him a quick outline of events. His father would, in turn, prepare a short email and send that out family and friends covering two continents. These short communiqués provided the much-appreciated assurance to loved ones on progression of the expedition and of the safety of its members.
Here are excerpts from those emails.
May 20, 2007 ‘After a stressful wait, the weather has allowed us to fly in to Base Camp. The flight was stunning. A sea of peaks and ice. The weather is holding. Everyone is o.k.’ May 23, 2007 ‘The first day was for acclimatization. Day 2 was our first haul of gear to Camp 1. We are expecting our first storm and hope to have established camp at King Col. Everyone is o.k.’ May 25, 2007 ‘We have all our gear now at Camp 2 (King Col). The air is thinner at 4000m and our breathing is heavier. Greetings to all our friends and family. We are enjoying ourselves, the temperatures during the day are warm and the weather is fantastic.’ May 28, 2007 ‘Over a two day effort using pulley systems, we dragged our gear over the headwall from Camp two. This effort was very exhausting and we had our first encounters with the difficulties of higher altitude.’ May 29, 2007 ‘As we tried to reach Camp 4 we were ambushed by a storm. Over 1 m of snow fell in the last 24 hours. We have to shovel the tents free every 3 hours. The storm has not let-up. We had to build a snow cave in order to do the cooking. The weather forecast does not show a break in the storm. Spirits are still high.’ June 1, 2007 ‘It is still snowing and very windy. We have not moved from Camp 3. There is a serious avalanche threat building just above us. Most of our food is cached near Camp 4 and we only have rations for another 2 or 3 days. We have to decide if we abandon our gear and move down the mountain. Two other groups waiting with us have decided to forfeit the expedition and return to Base Camp. June 3, 2007 ‘We had a window of stable weather and decided to continue to Camp 4. We will acclimatize there and wait out the next storm. We have five days time to make our summit push and hope for less stormy weather. The mountain has truly gained all our respect. It is the coldest and stormiest mountain in the world. We are the only ones left right now. The team spirit is still high and we hope everyone can send good luck our way. We will not continue if the threat is too high.’ June 4, 2007 ‘For the last four days, the weather has been unstable. We have no visibility and the winds have been beating down on our tents at 100 km/hr. Everyone is still very positive and everyone is giving their best effort.’ June 6, 2007 ‘We left Camp 4 in a storm at – 40 degrees. With compass and GPS we cautiously trekked over Prospector Col. We had to break trail in 50 cm of new snow. It took us over 12 hours to reach Camp 5. Everyone is exhausted. Breathing is difficult and so is sleeping. Our appetites have also faded. We are the highest people in Canada right now. We hope the weather is stable as we attempt our summit push in the next 36 hours. Cross your fingers for us.’ June 8, 2007 ‘On Wednesday evening at 11 pm, we reached the summit of the West Peak of Mount Logan after a 16 hour push. We were totally dehydrated and exhausted when we returned to Camp 5. All our water bottles had frozen earlier in the day. The winds were extreme. Many of us received frostbite on our faces and fingers. We were too tired to celebrate the fact that our entire team made it to the top. All the other groups abandoned their summit bids because of the trying conditions. At this point, we want to thank all our friends and family members that sent prayers in our direction. We are dreaming of fresh fruits and vegetables and a much needed shower.’ June 11, 2007 ‘The fingers of one of our team mates were badly frostbitten after our summit push. The team rallied together as we broke up the camp and headed down the mountain immediately. We found ourselves in a severe storm between Camp 5 and Camp 4. Two of the three GPS devices failed. We were in total whiteout. When we reached Camp 3, we settled into our tents only for three hours. Our priority was to get the team members with severe frostbite down to Base Camp as soon as possible. Luckily, we were able to arrange a helicopter flight out for three of our teammates the same day. The remaining two spent an extra night on the mountain enjoying a spectacular sunset and a spot of whiskey.
As the team was reunited on June 10th at the home of Eva and Beat, a nightlong celebration ensued. Completely satisfied from their Logan experience no new pacts were made… that night!’
Procedure for Climbing Mount Logan
Before a climber tackles Mount Logan there are many preparations that need to be undertaken in advance. This, of course, includes ensuring that that one has enough equipment and food to undertake such a formidable task. One also needs to ensure that he or she can get enough time off of work to climb Mount Logan, as acclimatization cannot be rushed. However, the necessary preparations do not stop there.
Each climbing party must apply for a Mountaineering Permit a few months prior to the climb, and must register their climb with Parks Canada. The procedure involves:
Each member of the expedition must complete an Application to Participate in an Icefields Mountaineering Expedition and sign the waiver.
Include an itinerary of the planned trip that describes the air carrier, radio communication, arrival and departure dates and a list of the mountaineering equipment to be used.
Each expedition must show in its application that it has the knowledge and equipment for self-rescue as well as a means of communication in the event of an emergency.
Submit all of the above information for your expedition, as a package, to:
Mountaineering Warden Kluane National Park & Reserve Box 5495, Haines Junction, Yukon CANADA Y0B lL0 TELEPHONE: 1-867-634-7279 FAX: 1-867-634-7277
Every member of the expedition must view the Mountaineering in Kluane National Park & Reserve video, available at Kluane National Park & Reserve. (Parks Canada)In addition to this, potential guides must obtain a license.
For climbers flying into Kluane National Park, an Aircraft Landing Permit must also be obtained from the Kluane National Park and Reserve Warden Service.
There are also environmental considerations to bear in mind when climbing Mount Logan, or any of the other Saint Elias peaks: “Low impact mountaineering practices are critical to the future of the wilderness attributes that have made Kluane National Park & Reserve world famous. Carry out what you carried in. Do not leave fixed line, glacier wands, food caches or broken equipment in the icefields. Reduce packaging prior to entering the Icefield Ranges. If garbage is burnt, carry out all remaining material including foil and ash.” (Parks Canada)