Journey from the UK to Canada’s Yukon

Laetitia and Ted ready to leave Inconnu Lorge for the Cirque of the Unclimbables

We are finally back from our massive adventure to Canada where we visited Fairy Meadows in the Cirque of the Unclimbables to attempt one of the world’s best alpine rock climbs, the Lotus Flower Tower. We also visited and climbed in Whitehorse en-route and at the world-class Squamish Chief.

This is the first post in a series that tries to capture the adventure. There are four posts, they are:

  1. The journey from the UK to Canada’s Yukon
  2. The Cirque of the Unclimbables
  3. Whitehorse and Yukon cragging
  4. Squamish rock climbing and a quick visit in to beautiful Vancouver

After leaving Cumbria our journey started out with a flight to Vancouver from Manchester. Being a daytime flight we got fantastic views of Iceland and Greenland as we flew across the northern Atlantic. (Why are these two places seemingly taking each others names?) As I looked out of the window I wondered what the little white spots were in the expanse of the blue Atlantic Ocean. Of course they were enormous icebergs breaking off the Greenland ice sheets. Soon the density built until the ocean was a crazy pattern of fractured ice, and then the view was filled with mountains and ice fields of inland Greenland.

Crossing over Greenland was exciting - first a few icebergs in the northern Atlantic, then the icecap - awesome scenery!
Crossing over Greenland was exciting – first a few icebergs in the northern Atlantic, then the icecap – awesome scenery!

We stopped in a cheap hotel (doss #1) not too far from Vancouver airport – we didn’t want to travel too far as the next day we were due to fly again, this time to Whitehorse in the Yukon. However, we did enjoy hot wings, a classic north American burger meal, and a few beers!

Our first night was spent in a Vancouver airport hotel - we enjoyed some Yukon beer even though we were in British Columbia at this point
Our first night was spent in a Vancouver airport hotel – we enjoyed some Yukon beer even though we were still in British Columbia at this point
Pete, Steve, Laetitia, and Ted on the long journey from the UK to Canada's North West Territories
Pete, Steve, Laetitia, and Ted on the long journey from the UK to Canada’s North West Territories

On arrival in Whitehorse we picked up a cheap rental car from Rent a Wreck – they aren’t really wrecks, they are just cars that have been part exchanged for new cars at a Subaru dealership.

We slept in another cheap hotel (doss #2) in central Whitehorse. Whitehorse is a weird place – a juxtaposition of depressed mining town and tourist gateway to the Yukon, and that’s not to mention sub cultures of native alcoholism and retailers such as Northern Hempisphere (have a look at what products they sell, despite the list of categories only one has any products! 😉 ).

After the second flying leg of our journey from Vancouver to Whitehorse we picked up a cheap rental-car...
After the second flying leg of our journey from Vancouver to Whitehorse we picked up a cheap rental-car…
A seven hour drive from Whitehorse saw us arriving at Finlayson Lake
A seven hour drive from Whitehorse saw us arriving at Finlayson Lake

We left the rental car at Kluane Airways depot on Finlayson Lake. It seems crazy to hire a car for over two weeks only to use it for two days – one driving out and one returning – but this is the cheapest way.

Kluane Airways is owned and operated by Warren Lafave. Warren also owns the luxurious fly-out fishing lodge, Inconnu Lodge. As part of the booking to be flown to the Cirque with Kluane Airways one enjoys a stop over at Inconnu Lodge. This is an incredible no-cost value add to the package. As we were to find out, if the weather is poor (read: heavy rain, thick clag, and zero visibility) and they can’t fly to the Cirque the Lodge provides a very comfortable place to hang out (doss #3). Plus, on the return visit it provides an amazing place (doss #6) to clean up, shower, and generally renormalise from unwashed smelly climber to civilised human being.

The next leg was a very short hop from Finlayson Lake to McEvoy Lake where Warren Lafave's amazing Inconnu Lodge is located
The next leg was a very short hop from Finlayson Lake to McEvoy Lake where Warren Lafave’s amazing Inconnu Lodge is located
Arriving at the luxury of Inconnu Lodge
Arriving at the luxury of Inconnu Lodge
The bar at Inconnu Lodge - Warren briefing Ted and Steve about the next leg of the journey, the flight to Glacier Lake
The bar at Inconnu Lodge – Warren briefing Ted and Steve about the next leg of the journey, the flight to Glacier Lake
The luxuriously comfortable surroundings of Inconnu Lodge
The luxuriously comfortable surroundings of Inconnu Lodge – this is where the lodge guests get to hang out all the time, we spent most of our time and ate meals in the staff quarters…
We went to bed with a beautiful red glow in the evening sky, isn't the saying "red sky at night, shepherd's delight"?
We went to bed with a beautiful red glow in the evening sky, isn’t the saying “red sky at night, shepherd’s delight”?
We were very comfortable laid up at Inconnu Lodge, in the staff quarters, while we waited out the terrible weather!
We were very comfortable laid up at Inconnu Lodge, in the staff quarters, while we waited out the terrible weather!

Finally after a massively frustrating four full days of watching the torrential rain we had a weather window suitable for the hour and half flight from the lodge out to Glacier Lake below the Cirque of the Unclimbables. Frantic re-packing and preparations ensued and then we were off on the next leg of the journey…

Laetitia and Ted ready to leave Inconnu Lorge for the Cirque of the Unclimbables
Laetitia and Ted ready to leave Inconnu Lorge for the Cirque of the Unclimbables

Series - LFT

  1. Journey from the UK to Canada’s Yukon
  2. The Cirque of the Unclimbables
  3. Whitehorse and Yukon Rock
  4. Squamish and Vancouver

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