Adam Wilkie and his friend Liam Ball hunkered down for the night on Mt. Slesse on Aug. 30, 2020. (Submitted/ Adam Wilkie)

Climber tells tale of rescue from Mt. Slesse

‘We had ledges about the size of dinner plates that we were sitting on’

A climber has shared a story of a summit gone wrong at Mt. Slesse, to remind everyone to plan thoroughly.

Adam Wilkie, from Burnaby, his 19-year-old son Xander, and friend Liam Ball had been looking forward to climbing the northeast buttress of the Chilliwack area mountain for some time. They prepared for what they thought was everything, throughout the year.

“We climbed several other alpine trad routes, dialing in our systems and preparing,” he says. “We reasearched the route in depth, the weather forecast, and the new descent route.”

They headed out at 3 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29, expecting a two-day adventure. They did not expect the trip to include dangling under a helicopter in a “screamer” harness. But that’s exactly what happened after Wilkie suffered a 50-foot fall against the imposing rock face, tied to an anchor. He used an SOS app, and the call was answered, but night was falling. They were left to wait it out on Mt. Slesse, in the snow on an exposed rock face.

“We had ledges about the size of dinner plates that we were ‘sitting’ on,” he says. “We were mostly hanging from our anchor.”

The next day, both the Coast Guard’s Cormorant and the Chilliwack Search and Rescue team came to their aid. Wilkie tells the story in technical detail on a public post on his Facebook, and spoke to The Progress about the ordeal.

“Hopefully someone takes something from this,” he said. “I know I’ve received a lot of advice from the community for the next time I attempt it.”

While he knew they would be okay, he was more worried about his wife, friends and family back home wondering how they were doing. Thankfully, he uses the SOS app was able to communicate with rescuers on the ground and in the air.

READ MORE: Mother of missing man enlists hikers to search Chilliwack mountain

“It is non negotiable,” he says. “I even take it hiking at the lake. You never know when you may twist an ankle. There is always an element that can’t be planned.”

Among the technical advice he offers in retrospect, there are cautions that hikers and climbers of all levels can take from his story.

“Allow extra time for climbing with three instead of two and unplanned circumstances like waiting for other parties to pass,” he says in his post. “We did not allow enough time for this climb.”

Wilkie has been climbing for about three years now, he says, and this won’t keep him from his passion of conquering mountains. But it has reminded him that even if he knows he’s safe, others will be worrying.

“No matter how confident you are in your safety, your situation or your skills, your loved ones will not share that confidence,” he says. “They are completely unaware of the crazy things we do being conquistadors of the useless. When things go bad, they will all assume the worst. We were cold and uncomfortable but suffering is part of climbing mountains. We had food, water and warm clothes. We knew we’d be fine but our families did not. They were terrified, traumatized, and unbelievably thankful when we got home. My addiction to climbing affects them too.”

READ MORE: COLUMN: Tips for hiking season


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

HikingSearch and Rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

(Submitted/ Adam Wilkie)

(Submitted/ Adam Wilkie)

(Submitted/ Adam Wilkie)

Back on solid ground. Liam Ball, Xander Wilkie and Adam Wilkie reunite at the Chilliwack Municipal Airport on Aug. 31, 2020 after being rescued from Mt. Slesse. (Submitted/ Adam Wilkie)

Adam Wilkie, front, and his son Xander Wilkie spent the night on the face of Slesse Mountain near Chilliwack on Aug. 30, 2020 after the elder Wilkie suffered a fall. (Submitted/ Adam Wilkie)

Just Posted

Langley school board chair is replacement candidate for NDP

Megan Dykeman declares as the New Democrat hopeful for Langley East

Mike de Jong seeks another term as MLA for Abbotsford West

Incumbent Liberal candidate was first elected to the legislature in 1994

Langley City council resumes virtual meetings after an attempt to resume in-person hearings didn’t go well

COVID-19 safety steps of Plexiglas dividers made it hard for members of council to hear each other

Langley students mark Orange Shirt Day

Sept. 30 initiative aims to raise awareness about government-run residential schools

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

B.C. VOTES 2020: Businesses now owe $6 billion in deferred tax payments

COVID-19 relief from remittance to province ends with September

Most Read