The Orphans

July 2, 2017


Lillooet River / Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC

The Orphans is a twin-summit peak on the edge of Nivalis Glacier in the remote eastern McBride Range. It’s significantly overshadowed by the bigger neighbours and even the nearby Nivalis Mountain rarely draws visitors. There are very, very few people interested in The Orphans as far as I know. The two summits are almost equal in height but the “true summit” is labelled on the SW peak so that’s the one we ascended. There’s no information as how to approach this ascent but from Nivalis/Talon col after finishing Talon Peak and Adieu Mountain it looked obvious to just traverse across the entire stretch of Nivalis Glacier to Orphans/Nivalis col.

Ascent routes for peaks around Nivalis Mountain

The glacier looked tame and easy but actually not. There’s quite a few up-and-downs, one drop zones and a few areas with sagging crevasses that we had to be very careful about. None of us was equipped with glacier gears nor a rope so time had to be taken in order to not fall in one, especially now in the afternoon heat. Alex led the way post-holing across the first half until I caught up and took over the least for the last stretch.

The broken Nivalis north glacier. We traversed across its entire stretch

Just some typical glacier scenery

Alex plodding across

Merging onto Nivalis/Orphans col, now looking ahead

Back onto the rock the ascent via SW Ridge looked pretty straightforward. There’s one or two parts that we had to traverse steep snow to avoid stepping on questionable cornices, and then there were a few 3rd class moves on loose rocks. Daniel went ahead and showed us the route and then the next thing we all made to the summit.

Daniel leading the way avoiding some cornices

Getting closer to the summit

Summit Panorama from The Orphans (SW Peak). Click to view large size.

Outlier Peak

This is looking at the NE Peak. Looks about the same height

Tenas Peak and Flood Peak.

This is looking down Nivalis Glacier into some very remote areas

Of course there has to have a shot of Nivalis Mountain

The adventure had apparently just began that based on earlier observation Alex and Daniel came up with a “direct east face” descent variation idea. Ben and I were doubtful on that but followed nonetheless and sure enough, the terrain became steep and shitty in no time. Daniel went for a long sidehill traverse out skier’s left while Alex dropped down a steep couloir. Ben and I waited until Alex cleared the fire zone and then dropped in. Everything we touched ended up tumbling down the couloir. It was worse than many Rockies climbs I’ve done over the years, but the good thing the couloir isn’t a long one. The rest of the plod back to camp was uneventful.

Alex leading down the snow couloir descent. It’s pretty bad…

The rocks were horrible. Worse than a lot of Rockies choss I’ve done…

Ben transitioning onto rock trying to not knock too much choss down.

Thank to the long and exhausting day we just did Alex, Ben and Daniel decided to sleep in and settle on the nearby Tenas Peak for the next day. Alex had a plan to do the bigger peaks via McBride ski traverse but I’m not up for those kind of week-long ski trips yet. It did not make any sense for me myself to give up on the much-bigger Nivalis Mountain and Mt. Sir Richard so the alarm was set at 4 am and I would be back on my soloist mode.