The Gambier Island Masochistic Ubermensch Challenge

On Saturday, July 31, 2010, five adventurous souls extended their Bagger Challenge successes by conquering, in a single day mind you, the most notorious trifecta the Challenge has to offer. It had not been done before and it may never be done again.

Okay, so you're saying to yourself, "Artaban is notorious?", "Killam isn't kind?". Ah yes, but remember, the lid may never be capped on Liddell. Throw that puppy into any set of three peaks and you have the makings of a brass piggy tarnishing before your eyes.

Who:  Neil Ambrose, Carolyn King, Wendy Montgomery, Dave Berg, Craig Moore

When:  0600h depart on the water taxi from Horseshoe Bay to Camp Fircom, Gambier Island; 2220h return on the water taxi from New Brighton via Gibsons. Total trail time - 16 hours.

Route: Mt. Artaban, Brigade Bay, Lost Lake, Gambier Lake, Mt. Liddell, return to Gambier Lake, Mt. Killam, New Brighton.

How:  With extensive island knowedge and keen natural instincts.

Why:  Because the Bagger Challenge Event Host once said,"... a masochistic ubermensch might be able to do all three Gambier peaks in a single day (make it the longest day of the year), but I wouldn't recommend it."

You can well imagine how the adventure might have gone for us: hot dry weather, vacant trails, an almost total lack of creek water, minimal trail signage, and not an island inhabitant to be seen for pretty much the entire day save for a couple of young familes that we found on our second pass of Gambier Lake.

The whole day was quite surreal in fact. We didn't know for sure now long it would take or if we would ever return from Mt. Liddell. Of those in our group, only I had been up the mountain from hell before and it was a miracle I dared return. I've now been there twice more than anyone should ever feel they need to summit the beast.

We did, however, have our priorities straight. After completing Mt. Artaban, we determined there was ample opportunity for a double-waterbag since we could touch the ocean once again at Brigade Bay before going on to Mt. Liddell. And with good planning we could make our way swiftly (I had been to Gambier the previous Wednesday for a 9 hour, cross-island, one peak pre-bag of Artaban, to detect the best route and drop three litres of water and some salty taco chips near the Gambier Lake/Latona Beach junction).

However, what we didn't count on was disturbing a wasp nest while we were pretty much in the dead centre of the entire island and the farthest from any bay of rescue. To quote my fellow Bagger, Neil, with clear and present accuracy, "Run!!!!!!!!!". Thankfully only he and I suffered any stings: me one and Neil three. Swearing was heartily involved in this incident. In fact, there was swearing at several points in the day by probably all of us. So, with respect to the Club and the Challenge, we decided it best to let each Bagger only have 10 curses per peak, and, allowances would be made for doing so in both the up and down directions. Neil was given special dispensation for more than 10 due to the stings and the sincerity of his tone.

We made our way to Lost Lake and on to Mt. Liddell for that never ending search of the trail markers. We stayed fairly well on schedule and made sure to drink lots of water with the help of the water treatments we brought. A time check let us figure in the third and final Bag of Mt. Killam. It was about 1815h when we started up Killam and it was starting to get dark as we descended. I called the water taxi guy Eric as we were about half way down and asked him to meet us in New Brighton. He was happy to be there in lots of time and he didn't mind waiting for us.

As we came down Killam, there were definitely tired legs and bodies and one of us may have puked, but, other than that, we were determined to get the whole team back in one piece. I can tell you it was a big adventure. We were glad to be done and I can say with confidence that none of us are planning on going back up Liddell in it's current condition which is even worse than when I went up the first time since even more trees have fallen and others have grown in to block the way.

The day ended with some surprises. We got to the water taxi and the driver said he would cut us a deal if we didn't mind a side trip to Gibsons to pick up some other passengers. Wendy had the greatest restriction on her time and she said that was cool so off we went. And after landing at Horseshoe Bay by about 2300h, we discovered a wide open pub anxious to serve a bunch of thirsty Baggers. They didn't seem to mind the odour and thankfully there was hardly anyone else in the place to smell our rampant success.

Do we recommend this trip for other Baggers? Not likely. Would they find their way through the swamp and past the killer wasps? We doubt it. But do they want to be called the same as us? Of course they do: we are the Gambier Island Masochistic Urbermench's!

See the pictures here on Flickr.

Read Carolyn's report here.


Ean Jackson's picture

Your dinner got cold

Goodness, I was about to call North Shore Search and Rescue.  (Wouldn't that be ironic, eh?)

Great job of bagging 2 worthy peaks and a shitbag (e.g. Liddell.)  Several Baggers and a couple of BaggerMeisters drank a wee dram from both the Quaich of Victory (Macallan) and the Twisted Quaich (Johnnie Walker Blue Label) in your honor that evening.  Video to follow.  'Hope you had as much fun as we did!

Craig Moore's picture

in between the lines ...

speaking of videos, Carolyn posted a couple and also filled in between the lines a bit here.

neil ambrose's picture


That's what Craig said for about 10 minutes after the stings!! OMG David...that is really bad...really bad!! And Neil thought the sting on his stomach was bad! Thanks for suggesting the challenge on Gambier. We did well...16 hours on foot with no aid stations and we were still in good spirits. That's tough!



Killaine's picture

 Good work! I was thinking of

 Good work! I was thinking of doing this next year, but since it has been done now I thank you and need not bother! Aren't you being a little hard on Liddell, it's really not that bad (save for the long slog up to the lake). I found it quite fun :)

David Crerar's picture

You kids are insane!

Congratulations on a hitherto never-attempted staggering feat of heart-breaking baggery.

And nice use of artist's conch.

And I have a better/worse insect story, though: en route down from Perrault, arse-slid down off 2-metre high deadfall and landed up against a nest of bees or wasps. Only four or five stings, and could have been much worse, given the situs of contact.


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