Inspiration: Climbing In The Vampire Peaks

The Vampire Peaks of Canada’s Northwest Territories might be as forbidding as they are remote—their granite both tempting and forboding to climbers. Here are a few photos from Jame Q Martin's climbing trip with Pat Goodman and Jessa Goebel to wet your alpine climbing whistle.

The North Moraine Hill glacier lay sandwiched between jagged snowcapped peaks and steep valleys, straddling a defining line between a harsh forested wilderness and the rugged sub-arctic terrain of the Vampire Peaks in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

 

Shuttling loads to advanced base camp through goat trails marked with goat hair on the alpine tundra. Within a few hours we would hike from the lush alpine tundra at base camp to the arid moonscape of the glacial terminate where advanced base camp was located.

 

From camp, several hours of vigorous glacial travel brought us to the base of Dawn Mist Mountain and its imposing, and unclimbed south face. Grey and indefinite the wall loomed above as we glazed over climbable features with focused eyes and inspired minds; soon we would taste the dirt and joy of its granite.

 

Fresh, wet snow decorated most ledges and the lesser angled features of the wall making the climbing slippery and challenging. Diligence was king as we wriggled our way up flaring chimneys and delicate traverses with numb fingers and wet shoes.

 

An outrageous position, indeed! On the summit, an engine's hum briefly broke the silence of our solitude, hinting at the vastness of a roadless land, while at the same time teasing us with comforts of civilization. As the plane growled passed, the piolet gently tilted his wings noting our presence, and then he floated away into the glow of a midnight sun.

 

After 23 hours on the go we were shuffling heavy legs back across the glacier under a vibrant twilight, relieved to have made the first ascent of a wildly sensational alpine rock climb.

 

Back to base camp safe, sound, and ready for the next round. Playing checkers to pass the time and staying warm with some hot tea while resting.

 

Hand-stacks and knee-bars for breakfast―a hardy meal and what seems to become a staple while living in a boulder choked alpine meadow.

 

An essential tool for kitchen chores, Q passes the torch in an effort to choke the swarms of mosquitos at base camp. The enduring mist also helped to suppress the little winged vampires long enough for us to enjoy the freshness of tent ventilation.