I'm planning an expedition to climb Lotus Flower Tower next year. Has anyone climbed it in the last few years, and if so, could I pick your brains about travel logistics? All the info available seems sketchy at best, most likely out of date, and it would be great to have some beta from the ground.
Not been but a load of acquaintances got properly shut down on it over a decade ago. I didn't go on the expedition as the overall team was never going to be strong enough and that was exactly what happened.
Quite frankly, I wouldn't bother - go to Squamish or the Valley instead. You'll get infinitely more amazing climbing done there.
There's no rush. It's not going anywhere.
I was there in 2017. I wasn't climbing but canoeing the Nahanni. For you to get there you will likely need to fly to Whitehorse and then fly in from one of the small float plane operators who are dotted around. Something like Black Sheep aviation, Simpson Air or South Nahanni Air.
For you to fly to Whitehorse you will need to go via Vancouver. I suspect that trying to organise everything from the UK would be difficult because you'll need food, equipment etc and I would suggest that anything less than 2 weeks up there would be a waste of time so weight will be a challenge.
You could get one of the local outfitters to set you up with food and equipment but this will all cost you. The weather can be very changeable so I would set goals based on having an awesome experience in a true wilderness rather than climbing goals.
This seems fairly up to date: https://gripped.com/special-feature/nahanni-national-park-has-world-class-rock-climbing/
Warren LaFave of Inconnu lodge/ Kluane airways looks to still be the best option. He might not be the cheapest but has a solid track record of looking after visiting climbers and the cirque itself.
I flew to Somewhere in the states (Denver?) and then onto Whitehorse via Vancover. We then flew in a light aircraft to Warren Lafava (not sure if this is right spelling) Inconnu Lodge. Where we then flew on in a float plane to the Cirque. We decided to get the helicopter out which we did by calling Warren on a sat phone he leaves in the cirque.
Sometimes you need to make your way overland from Whitehorse to Watson Lake, but if you need to do that Warren can usually sort out how that will happen. I think he has left vehicles for people to drive over, which would be a long drove as it took us about 3 hours as the crow flies to get to the Inconnu Lodge. I think we stayed in Whitehorse overnight and shopped for food there before heading on.
I think we spent 3 out of a possible 4 weeks in the cirque and then flew out and I walked the Chilkook trail from near Whitehorse into Alaska, whilst my companion flew down for a few days climbing in Squamish.
If Warren is still doing his service via the Inconnu Lodge I would go with him. There was another operator, but I have never heard of anyone using them.
> I was there in 2017. I wasn't climbing but canoeing the Nahanni.
We've been mulling this over, might need to pick your brains at some point. We roughly costed out canoeing part of the Nahanni to the Cirque, having two weeks there to hopefully get a window to climb the LFT then canoeing out. It very rapidly got really expensive!
> I would set goals based on having an awesome experience in a true wilderness rather than climbing goals.
This was why we were thinking about doing the canoeing thing too.
Might be worth getting in touch with Jacob cook and bronwyn hodgins, I think they did a canoe climb canoe trip there a few years ago?
> Might be worth getting in touch with Jacob cook and bronwyn hodgins, I think they did a canoe climb canoe trip there a few years ago?
My mate did this already!
You have almost certainly seen this but I thought I'd post it as it's a great article.
Yes, we were looking in to something slightly lighter on the paddling front as only one of the group has lots of big river experience and I have nowt!
We'd shelved the plan on cost / time grounds before the pandemic kicked off so quite when it might become viable for us again I don't know.
So my thoughts fwtw. The linked trip report goes in via the Little Nahanni which is a very technical white water river so you either need to have good canoeing skills or the inflatable raft type canoes or both. I remember that Tim Emmett SUP'd it in and here is the video of their run down it:
The trip report doesn't really say where they sourced the inflatables from or how they got their food (which they cooked and dried themselves) and gear up there but my suspicion would be that they were based in North America or had someone on the team in North America as a feel the cost of flying in the food and gear from the UK would be prohibitive. By using the Little Nahanni they could drive in but that is not an option for the South Nahanni proper.
I was in Canada and drove to Fort Simpson and flew in from there but that is on the East side of the national park and not easy to get to from Whitehorse. I'd say that the Watson Lake options would work but any of the outfitters will get you in there.
If you aren't canoeists then an unguided trip on the Nahanni is not recommended. This is one of THE most iconic white water rivers in the world and running the four canyons below Virginia Falls should not be underestimated. It's not overly technical but it is big and you risk serious hypothermia if you go in. Feel free to check put my youtube vid here:
The linked one is a mix of two separate trips to the Nahanni and The Snake but you'll figure out which is the Nahanni and there is a series of 3 separate Nahanni vids if you really want to spend some time on this.
So, if you want to mix the canoeing with the climbing I would fly into Honeymoon lakes and run the river down to the Cirque then stash the canoe gear and hike up into the Cirque (This will take you a good day and is a tough slog by all accounts). Then when you are done climbing, canoe on down to Virginia falls where you can get a flight out. The river between Honeymoon lakes and Virginia Falls only has one small set of class II rapids. Your big challenge will be weight and cost. I suspect that the reason the linked trip report went in from the Little Nahanni is because they could drive there, thus avoiding all of the weight restrictions of a flight in. I think this is why most parties either climb or canoe because doing both is a logistical ball breaker.
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