Documentary filmmaker back in the Okanagan after expedition using antique gear makes a second attempt at Mt. Waddington

Climbers make it to Munday

Cindy White

They made it to the summit, just not of the mountain they were hoping to climb.

A group of mountaineers, historians and filmmakers passed through the Okanagan again this week, after a second attempt to climb Mt. Waddington, the highest peak entirely in British Columbia and one of the most remote and difficult mountains in North America.

The team also stopped in Kelowna two weeks ago, on their way to the Coast Mountains.

“Well, attempt number two on Mt. Waddington, it went better than attempt number one, when we didn’t even get to the mountains,” explained documentary filmmaker Greg Gransden.

“This time we didn’t succeed in climbing Mt. Waddington, but we did succeed in climbing a lesser peak, which was Mt. Munday. And we climbed it almost 92 years to the day that Don and Phyllis Munday did in 1930.”

The expedition was the second chapter of the journey that began with the award-winning documentary The Mystery Mountain Project.

The aim was to do the trek in vintage gear similar to what the Mundays used, but again the modern-day climbers faced serious challenges.

Gransden said even if the weather had allowed them to make a summit attempt on Mt. Waddington, they would have had to do an overnight bivvy (bivouac), sleeping in the snow close to the summit.

“I’m not sure if the people in antique clothing would have been able to take it, because we had problems with hypothermia. Bryan Thompson, the leader of the expedition, got hypothermia at one point,” Gransden said Thompson also developed trench foot due to his vintage boots.

The difference this time around was the makeup of the team. Most of the members of the group had known each other for years, unlike during the filming of The Mystery Mountain Project, when some of the team had barely met before.

“In many ways, it becomes a story of friendship.

“What you could really see, for example, was that one of the members of the team that was wearing modern equipment was always taking care of the people using antique equipment. Caring for them, watching where they were going, making sure they were okay.”

Gransden has hours of footage to go through when he gets home but hopes to have the new documentary Chaos Glacier Country, done by the end of the year. His goal is to be accepted into the 2023 Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival.

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