(Photo: Grant Baldwin, Peg Leg Films)

There are too many stories from the last 47 days to tell in just one post. No one want’s to hear about the times our route worked, our gear didn’t break, and when we found our food 20m from the pilots gps point. So I thought I would share some “type 3” fun, so at least someone gets some enjoyment out of it. I hope all of you reading enjoy your warm beds, easy access to food, and blessedly unfrozen footwear just a little more this winter on our behalf…

6:10 AM, it’s Day 27. My stomach whines at me in the dark like a beaten puppy and sighing I unzip the sleeping bag and begin the process of trying to get into solidly frozen ski boots. At least I don’t have to put any clothes on, I haven’t taken off my down layers in weeks. The sun won’t rise for another hour and a half. It’s -20C out again. It’s been -20C for weeks, but at least there’s no extreme wind trying to blow the tent into oblivion like last week. Reaching for the beacon handheld and the phone, I step out into the softly drifting snow and resume walking in 20m grid lines for the second day in a row. This is absolutely the last thing I want to do in the world.

Three hours and kilometers of zigzags later, with the phone (our gps) battery dead, I return to the tent and feel the urge to cry again. Mum looks relieved I didn’t fall into a crevasse while she was sleeping, yesterday I disappeared in the whiteout suddenly and she thought I did. I got back to camp just as she was rushing off to search for me with all the rescue gear in tow. Just another “at least“. She recharges the phone and heads back out to search. I want to believe she will find it but I know she won’t. The beacon must have broken when it fell from the plane, or the batteries froze in the -20 temps, or maybe it’s still emitting a nice strong signal from inside a wolverine’s belly somewhere – along with all our carefully prepared food. I can’t stop thinking about the toblerone bar that’s probably buried somewhere just a few feet from the tent under a foot of snow. We’re also out of toilet paper but at least there’s lots and lots of snow to use. Lunch is a couple of spoons of ice tea crystals in warm water and a meager handful of nuts with some butter. It’s the last of our food. At least the stove (nicknamed “Princess”) worked that time, sometimes it takes 4 hours of tinkering and pleading to get enough hot water for a meal.

Hours later, phone battery down to 20% again, mum returns and announces it’s time to give up. Our next food drop is 6 days away and the weather forecast indicates our Squamish based pilot will not reach us for a resupply for at least 4. The closest helicopter option is just a mere $3100 bill away. At least we don’t have to burn calories trudging in zigzags anymore. There’s always an “At least” on the Coast Mountain Epic I’ve learned. No matter how bad things are, they could always be worse, and indeed they probably will be very shortly. We pack up camp and start the descent down the Goddard Glacier. “Shoulda been named the Goddamn Glacier in my opinion” I call out as we crest a roll and look down upon a sea of broken ice and crevasses as the wind picks up and the whiteout closes in again.

In case you were wondering what walking in zigzags in a whiteout for 2 days looked like… (Blue pin in the center of the mess was our camp and the gps point. Not all of our food drops were such an epic – The exceptional flying skills of Douglas Noblet with Todd Weselake, flying all the way from Nelson BC to do these drops for us often has us finding our food 20-60m away from the gps point in only minutes. Mostly we won, sometimes we lost.

Just so you don’t think we’re totally insane for undertaking this journey, this is what makes it all worth it! Check out this magical ice cave below that we found on the way!

Another magical place we really enjoyed…

Sunset over the Klinaklini glacier

Tania picks up a much needed resupply of food dropped on us by Glacier Air on the scenic ridge of Mt.Mu after storms slowed us down reaching our 2nd food drop. You can see the plane in the background!

Tania  navigates through the lower Stanley Smith Glacier

Sunrise on the Pemberton Icefield

If only we could have a hot tub every night! We thoroughly enjoyed this quick stop at the Meager hotsprings

Overlooking the Lilooet Glacier

Being storm-bound at the Harrisson Hut was like visiting a spa. We relaxed as the winds howled and the snow piled up outside the door.

The talented Swiss pilot Bastian Fleury of 49 North Heli out of Campbell River flew in our last food drop after 2 separate fixed wing plane attempts to reach the Waddington area failed due to poor weather conditions. Bringing us oodles of delicious chocolate from his homeland and simultaneously bumping us 40km west over the scenic, but extremely difficult to cross Klinaklini River valley, he won our undying love and gratitude! Todd Weselake assisted with navigation on the flight and ensured an end to our 2 week toilet paper drought, along with other essentials like the first clean socks we’d seen in 40 days. Heaven.

Still smiling after 40 days!

The giant Mt.Monarch reigning in the background.

Reaching blessed treeline after an epic thrashing through the alder and hemlock chocked valley of Ramrose Creek.

Tania takes a break as she crests the ridge after a sketchy 3 hour long, 55-60 degree, no fall zone bootpack dragging 60 lbs of gear.

Grant and Fix compare sausages on the Monarch Icefield. We hadn’t seen any sausage for a long time so we were intrigued.

Having the boys join us for a few days of filming on the last leg was a really fun opportunity to be social again. We also took advantage of a heli flight out with them down to Bella Coola as well, thereby avoiding a big upcoming storm and another giant logging road slog.

(Photo: Grant Baldwin Peg Leg Films.)Props to the talented boys for not only dragging giant toboggans worth of camera gear and a drone, but for capturing some amazing footage from it!

Just in case you forgot it wasn’t all sunny days and pretty views. If you can’t read it the sign Tania is pointing at says “planted 1977”. This meant more alder and washouts than logging road in the Klattasine, Homathko and Scar Creek drainages. I nicknamed that slog “The Week of Suck”. 

For now we wait contentedly in the beautiful Bella Coola Valley for the skies to clear until we can fly our next food drops out for the next leg to Terrace. We are considering renaming the expedition to “Coast Mountain Epic Treasure Hunt” as it seems more of a gargantuan effort to acquire goodies like food, maps and toilet paper, then it does a ski traverse at times.

We couldn’t have done this without the monumental flying and logistical efforts from our team of pilots – Todd Weselake, David Safarik, Douglas Noblet, Bastian Fleury, Mike King, (49 North Helicopters, Glacier Air, Kootenay Lake Aviation, White Saddle Air) as well as from our committed team of weather forecasters for sending us the good news and the bad, the terrible jokes, and cheering us on every day. Also a HUGE thank you to Kerry Phillips (Boileau) and her family for hosting us in her beautiful home in Bella Coola this week and helping us with so many logistics. The community here has been so welcoming and helpful and the valley is incredibly beautiful. If you’ve never been to Bella Coola we definitely recommend a trip – Don’t worry, you can fly or drive or boat in, you don’t have to walk for 50 days from Squamish if you don’t want to.

Words and Photography by: Martina Halik – Raven Eye Photography

 

Join the discussion 50 Comments

  • Martin Caldwell says:

    Absolutely, Stunning, Breathtaking, and Inspiring! Loving your story Tania & Martina! Safe Journey.

  • Gord says:

    .Congrats and thank you for the update. Power on!

  • Janet and Rory says:

    I’m in a perpetual state of awe at what you’re accomplishing! Wishing easy food drops for your next leg of the journey!

  • Nick Mansley says:

    This is so inspiring!

  • Keith says:

    Great read, great writing. Keep safe, enjoy the chocolate!

  • Anonymous says:

    Kudos to you both! what an experience! God speed his angels to keep you safe. You got this!

  • Manouane Deschenes says:

    I beg you to come and do a talk for the Alpine club of Canada (Vancouver section) when you are rested after your sublime adventure.
    I can’t stop admiring your courage and intelligence and mountain sense.
    You are both extremely brave and resilient.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Liz says:

    WOW!! I don’t know either of you, but your journey is so inspiring. Congratulations on another successful leg — truly rad, and can’t imagine the impossible situation of faulty beacon on food drop, with next potential drop 4-6 days away.

  • Dave Korobanik says:

    Woah…..snap
    Hard women, that’s for damn sure! Hats off to you two amazing ladies. Impressed and humbled by your ambition and perseverance. Really really proud of you two. Stay safe out there and keep on having fun (even if it’s the type 3 kind).

  • Clare Gordon says:

    Wow, what a story! Mike King mentioned you a couple of weeks ago when he dropped in to our school (Tatla Lake) for a surprise visit and landed his helicopter in the soccer field. Tonight I was at a slideshow that Chris Harris was showing at the Tatla Community Hall and Chris Czajkowski said that she was driving to Bella Coolant tomorrow to visit with you. I was intrigued and so googled you. I will share this site with my students on Monday and we will follow you and the rest of your journey. Best of luck!!

  • Mike says:

    Great job ladies! Everyone here at home sends our love and encouragement. You are the epitome of how truly great the human spirit is! It is like Christmas every time a spot check or blog update pops up, as silly as that is, but what ev. Miss you guys lots, sending luv and luck from all of us at home!

  • Mike says:

    Beautiful story about the most physically challenging of hardships. The agony was palpable with every word. Good job coming out the other side!

  • Len Soet says:

    I’ve been following your progress and praying for your safety almost every day and I am very happy to see that you made it to Bella Coola. Thanks for the great pictures and trip report.

  • KER says:

    Wow…As a former Pemberton resident; bush pilot; adventurer of the coastal range, I respect the guts to make this decision and execute it. I also look forward to the trek to Terrace. I might see you in S. Tweedsmuir…as next week I journey to my favorite place on the planet…Bella Coola. Annually, I spend a week in the Rainbow Range and beyond. Continue your inspiration.

  • wow fantastic you two,,, absolute beauty
    country,,, congrats to you two

  • Gwen Jones-Cargill says:

    Congratulations ladies! What a wonderful adventure & thank you for sharing it with stories & beautiful pictures.

  • Simply amazing. Thank you for sharing your story and the wonderful pictures.

  • Marc Piché says:

    What an amazing adventure and story for the two of you to share. Inspiring beyond words!

  • jayson faulkner says:

    A inspiring adventure for sure. Would love to have you do a show in Whistler when you’re back in civilisation. Such a great tale(s) and mission. Thanks for putting this up for us all to enjoy.

  • Ash Kelly says:

    Hi!

    I am a news editor and associate producer at CBC in northern BC. I’m not sure logistically if you’ll be able to connect with us at all, but if it’s possible we would love to chat with you/ have you both on our radio show, Daybreak North. It won’t take too long, likely about 6 minutes on air and a short pre-interview.

    I can be reached at 250-562-6701 ext 225 or ash.kelly@cbc.ca

    Thanks for considering, and safe/happy travels.

  • Read this laughing warm and cozy in sleeping bags in NZ reminiscing about the valleys at home out past Squamish. Thanks for the stories, hope you had some type two fun out there too! 😛

  • Susan Bermejo says:

    What an amazing adventure!!
    Beautiful photos!!

  • Kerry Verchere says:

    WOW You two rock!!

  • Deborah Rathgaber says:

    You guys rock!!! Thank you for the amazing pictures an hilarious stories!!! Be safe…

  • Dianna says:

    Well done.

  • Rob Lista says:

    Amazing, you two are all kinds of epic! Photos are beautiful, and the story is captivating. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  • Mike says:

    I will be sharing this with my hiking group; they will never complain about my 7 hour bushwhacks again!

    You ladies inspire and amaze me.

  • Taylor Livingston says:

    It feels very appropriate that I stumbled across this on International Women’s Day. You two are a total inspiration to all of us and I love hearing your story of beauty, fun, and most of all, suffering. Winter travel involves so much suffering that is rarely discuss and the amount of hazards in comparison to summer travel is almost infinite. I can only imagine how mentally tough you two are as a team on such an epic adventure. You two are a couple of BAs and I can’t wait to hear more. Safe travels ladies and happy International Women’s Day to the both of you 🙂

  • Steve Morrison says:

    well done and best of luck on the next legs of your grand adventure. The pics are simply awesome. Hope you can also do a show in Fernie when you return.

  • Anna K says:

    so strong and the most incredible. You two! Chapeau, Tania and Martina!!! Thank you for this inspiration and Safe journey

  • Anonymous says:

    You two are absolutely incredible! A true inspiration and proof that anything is possible! Great update and I cant wait to hear more from this astonishing feat! Stay safe and keep kicking ass!!!

  • Jim Greyeyes says:

    What an incredible Journey! Look forward to reading your book, and photographs! A great story to tell! A great challenge!

  • Simon says:

    Good work team Hallik. Keep going! From your friends at Fernie Search & Rescue.

  • Christopher says:

    Local knowledge of what we are surrounded by, changes our horizons of potential. I enjoyed the photos, wonderful ice formations, great light capture.

  • Craig Small says:

    Mother & Daughter of AAHHH’S. You will be passing on the border of the Wet’suwet’en territory of the Unist’ot’en clan at the Morice lake headwaters near Mount Hapsicord east of Kitimat. They patrol their territory looking for intruders (corporate industry, pipeline survey). Doubt they will notice the two of you. They do however like pre authorised consent as part of their protocol as do all Nations, something I’m sure you are aware of. Don’t worry I will let them know your coming and I am going to see if someone can come meet and greet you. Would be very cool. Got my eyes on you.
    Love and Cheers from Fernie.

    • Craig Small says:

      Is there a problem with my comment?

      • Martina - Raven Eye Photography says:

        Not at all Craig, I just don’t get around to approving all the message as they arrive. I have, and will forward this to Martina and Tania! Thanks!

        Todd.

  • Phil says:

    It was a real treat to meet you both in Bella Coola. Good luck on your adventure to Terrace.
    It’s nice to see you’re making headway on your way to the Dean. Should get a tad easier (Ha!) on the other side.
    Kudos to you both!
    You are incredible.

  • Shelagh O'Brien says:

    Hey Tanya and Martina, we had just been thinking/ wondering how your trip was going and boom through the wonder of FB there’s your blog/:D!!! Maybe “Best of Banff” in Golden(?) So thrilled and proud of you guys! And we send luv and safe blessings👍🏽💕

  • Blair says:

    I don’t know you and I really don’t know what to say beyond wow! Your vision to even conceive of such a trip is incredible. Such bad luck about the faulty beacon in the food drop. Best of luck going forward. My you enjoy clear skies, calm winds and favourable snow conditions. I look forward to reading about the rest of your journey.

  • Matthew Baldwin says:

    This is so fun!!

  • Bablofil says:

    Thanks, great article.

  • Chris Cooper says:

    Well done ladies, great epic! CC

  • It’s awesome to visit this web site and reading the views
    of all mates concerning this article, while I am also eager of
    getting experience.

  • alice says:

    Thinking of you both as you left the Kitsault valley. I cherrished the girl time with the heart to heart moments and hearing your challenging stories. So glad we met and you were able to decend for a little r and r. I was blessed and will pray for your continued safety as you rise above every obstacle! What amazing strenghth and stamina. Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us

  • ig says:

    Wow, awesome blog structure! How long have you
    been running a blog for? you made blogging glance easy.
    The whole look of your web site is excellent, as well as the content!

  • AlAhly says:

    Hello,I read your new stuff named “Whistler to Bella Coola | Coast Mountain Epic” regularly.Your story-telling style is awesome, keep it up! And you can look our website about AlAhly.

  • Marty says:

    Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site, how can i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept

  • I was recommended this website through my cousin.
    I’m now not sure whether this submit is written by means of him as nobody else understand
    such distinctive about my trouble. You’re wonderful! Thank you!

  • I saw a lot of website but I believe this one holds something extra in it in it

Leave a Reply