The Climbs - Northwest Territories:
Un-named Peak (Mt. Nirvana)
Summits of Canada Expedition began with the first
climb on June 25, 2006. This time (July & August, 2015),
the team heads north to the western boundaries of the Northwest
Territories to make their second attempt on its highpoint.
This mountain will include some more technical rock climbing.
But they have to get there first,
and in addition to a flight in from Watson Lake, this expedition
will also entail a one week paddling trip down the Little
more information and details about the highpoint of the
Northwest Territories, click below:
NWT - Un-named
Summits of Canada team leader Len Vanderstar,
will be accompanied by a number of climbers for this year's adventure
to the Nortwest Territories. This trip encompasses paddling and
climbing in a number of areas with people joining in and taking
part during various parts of the trip. Indeed, one almost needs
a certificate in time scheduling and transportation management
to keep track of it all.
On June 28th, a 3 member team consisting
of Dave Custer, Eric Gilbertson and Susan Ruff headed to SW Nirvana
to begin their first climb with an attempt on a technical and
new, uncharted route up the SW face, weather permitting.
On July 13, Len Vanderstar and his
brother Ron will begin the initial stage of their trip paddling
approximately 220 km down the Little Nahanni River and the South
Nahanni Rivers to Rabbit Kettle Lake. They will then rendezvous
by helicopter with the team at East Nirvana on July 20th.
July 20 - 26: the team grows to 7 -
Len and Ron Vanderstar (Canadians, eh) and Dave Custer, Eric Gilbertson,
and Susan Ruff (to be helicoptered in from the South Base Camp)
are also joined by Greg Slayden (American contingent) & Marc
Aymerich (Spanish team member) who will also be helicoptered in.
The team will then begin their climb up the East face of Nirvana.
July 27 - 31: following the climb,
the team hikes out to Hole-in-the-Wall Lake (Len Vanderstar, Ron
Vanderstar, Eric Gilbertson, and Greg Slayden).
Another new team member (Rick Taylor
from Colorado, being helicoptered in from Watson Lake) to join
Dave Custer & Susan Ruff for a flight into the Cirque of the
Unclimbables for more climbing until around August 20th.
Marc Aymerich catches a return flight
to Watson Lake.
A float plane shuttles Len, Ron and
Eric from Hole-in-the-Wall Lake to Rabbit Kettle Lake to rendezvous
with an additional 4 paddlers while Greg Slayden catches a flight
out on a Beaver (the plane, not the dam-building critter) to Fort
August 1- 13: South Nahanni paddle
with Len and Ron Vanderstar, Eric Gilbertson and the 4 new members
that are to arrive by Beaver float plane: Barry Watson, Lana Pflugbeil,
Shelley Browne & Luke Weyman.
After 380 km of paddling down the South
Nahanni River, the team will finish on August 13 at Blackstone
Landing on the Laird River. The expedition is planned to be completed
as of mid-August upon a 2 hr return shuttle drive to Fort Simpson.
Challenges that the team are prepared
for include steep and rocky terrain, black bears, delays and/or
more diffucult days due to inhospitable weather, swarms of biting
insects (lots of them), and white water negotiation - all just
a normal part of traveling in the wilderness landscape of the
Team progress can be tracked via the
"Maps & Route" link (see below).
the buttons below to view a variety of multi-media items
from the climb and/or related to the climb and the area
The following provides some further details regarding Nahanni
National Park and the areas that were traveled through. (Note
- some information is compliments of Parks Canada’s South
Nahanni River Touring Guide.)
Located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Nahanni
National Park Reserve was created in 1976 to protect
a portion of the Mackenzie Mountains natural region. Park expansions
have since occurred twice. The Park protects the largest remaining
glaciers and the highest mountains in the Northwest Territories,
large alpine plateaus, karst features and important wildlife habitat.
Nahanni National Park is located within the traditional
territory of the Dehcho First Nations, and the Park is
co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and the Dehcho First Nations.
In 1978, Nahanni National park was declared a United Nations World
Heritage Site for its exceptional natural beauty and its globally
unique geological processes. In 1987, the South Nahanni River
was designated as a Canadian Heritage River. It's a premier wilderness
river area with magnificent scenery and offers a great opportunity
to discover the local culture of the area. Other rivers worthy
of paddling consideration within the Park include the Little Nahanni
River and Flat River. Parks Canada has a South Nahanni River Touring
Guide that highlights the river from its headwaters (Moose Ponds)
to its confluence with the Laird River, 565 km downstream. Ken
Madsen’s book, Paddling in the Yukon, also describes the
The highest mountain in NWT is known by the Dehcho elders
as Thunder Mountain (in translation), and by the climbing
community as Nirvana. It is presently officially un-named, but
this is expected to change. This mountain is located in the heart
of the Ragged Range, so named for the spectacular formation of
jagged granite peaks. The Range was formed 110 million years ago
when molten igneous rock deep within the earth’s crust was
forced to within 3,000 meters of the earth’s surface. As
it hardened and cooled, it pushed sedimentary rock up from below,
and over time the upper layers of sedimentary rock eroded, exposing
the granite of the Ragged Range. The last period of glaciation,
which ended about 10,000 years ago, sculpted the formation seen
today. Cirque of the Unclimbables is a featured area associated
with the Ragged Range, well known to climbers world wide.
The largest tufa mounds in Canada are situated
in close proximity to Rabbit Kettle Lake. Interpretive hikes are
offered by Park personnel from this location during the months
of July and August.
The more recent Wisconsin glaciation that shaped
the Ragged Range did not reach the South Nahanni River valley
from Rabbit Kettle Lake to Virginia Falls. This broad u-shaped
valley was carved by glaciers more than 130,000 years ago. Below
Virginia Falls, the Park has not seen glaciation in more than
200,000 years. Flowing water, rather than ice, shaped the lower
canyons. As the mountains grew over time, the river was able to
stay its course, more or less, carving through the rising rock
strata, creating the canyons and preserving the meanders that
developed when the river flowed across a flat valley.
the Summits of Canada Expedition Team - Since 2006
"Teaching Canadians and the World about Canada
- One Step At A Time"