Just got back from an epic trip. We made it up Warden Peak with a large and rad group of women. It was an 18 hour day plus a 6 hour drive home. I made it with juuust enough time to get to work at 8:30am.
Warden Peak is on Vancouver Island between Sayward and Gold River. (This is a nice way of saying … the middle of nowhere.)
What drew us to Warden Peak was that it is one of the nine Island Qualifers. In the 1970s, nine mountains were selected by the Vancouver Island section of the Alpine Club as “graduating climbs.” You could apply as a senior member of the club after climbing four of these nine peaks. Although this senior designation no longer exists, many still strive to “get their IQs” by climbing all nine.
Last winter, Brianna approached Krista and me to ask if we wanted to help her organize three all-women Alpine Club climbing trips this summer.
Brianna’s vision was these trips should not be easier just because they were for women. So for our climbing trip, we went to Crest Creek. And for our mountaineering trip, we picked an Island Qualifer.
We were not planning on having such a long summit day. But none of us had been to this mountain before and our group was quite large.
As we approached the summit block, it became clear that we had to either turn around or forget all plans of returning home at a reasonable time. We did a group check-in. The stoke was high. The weather was good. Everyone had adequate food, water and clothes. So we kept going.
When I was first starting to learn about mountaineering, I was told that the way to be a good team member was to silently tough it out. Don’t ask for help. Don’t admit you’re afraid. Fix problems on your own. These are stereotypical “masculine” traits.
What amazed me about this group was our ability to freely ask for and give help. At times we all felt tired, challenged or frustrated. We all also had opportunities to give, whether that be taking the rope from someone who was tired or lending someone extra batteries for her headlamp. Everyone kept it together and everyone supported each other.
I don’t think you have to have a group of women to make this happen. But it certainly was easier to practice in a safe, supportive environment.
For tips to make your own adventure a safe one:
You will need an ice axe, crampons, helmet and know how to use them. You may also need a harness, rope, belay device and other equipment.