Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fire Ban

It appears the access ban to the Castle Wilderness and any off trail activity in Waterton is still in effect. The dirt road to Drywood is closed off at the shell plant. Last week helicopters were flying over the ranch at the base of Spread Eagle quite regularly (there was a youth camp there that seemed to attract lots of spotting from the authorities - presumably in case they broke the access rules).

In Waterton the other day we had a Warden wait for us near the dump as we climbed on Tick Ridge. He was quite nice, but said all off trail use was banned due to fires. He said climbing on the info bureau and Bear's Hump was OK.

I understand how smokers can cause forest fires quite easily. It just seems a pain that the rest of us have to suffer for the small probability that someone would be stupid enough to smoke in the backcountry with these conditions. I wonder if some sort of permit systems for access wouldn't be worthwhile. If you don't smoke and don't drive vehicles, and don't carry any fire starting devices, I wonder how much of a fire risk you really are. It seems like some sort of effort for bureaucrats to cover themselves and look like they are doing something pro-active. However, I can't say I agree with what is being done.

Information Bureau Rock Climbing

It has been a while since I last climbed at the info bureau. During that time the cliff has certainly increased in popularity. There is now a well trod path along its base. It looks like boulders have been busy on the 15 foot bulge to the left of the main climbs. Rod & Laura from Waterton (Zum's) have got quite a traverse circuit along the base of the cliff.

Most of the loose rock, as well as pebbles and dirt on the ledges have been removed. Perhaps it is just me, but the climbs seem to have improved a lot due to the traffic.

As a result a few updates to the guide book are perhaps warranted.

5.8 (maybe 5.8+ ?)
There is a new anchor far to the right of the wall. It is located around the corner of the main chains and requires walking down to the large lower ledge that is to the climbers right of the cliff top. A grey chain with two bolts is at chest level. This makes top roping this route much easier.

The start of the route is now more solid. It has some decent stemming up to a bare section of rock. Here there is a fun, but rather slippery move that would go at 5.8/5.9. Thoughts on the grade? At the ring bolt it seems life staying left instead of sticking to a more direct route through the overhang is more fun and makes for a more consistent route. Doing this makes the route not quite as contrived as I remembered it being. I think I figured the bolt was useless because the one good crack on the climb is about 3 feet to its left. I guess I have mellowed. The top exit is pretty fun.

This route has certainly improved with traffic. The days when it was a gamble if you could hold on to the sandy ledges are now gone. The route has definitely improved. Leading it wouldn't be a bad proposition.

While Away
5.8 (maybe 5.9)
This climb head up directly through the multiple overhangs. Unfortunately it is hard to set a top rope on. Draping a sling to the left of the lone bolt is possible. You should back this up from the main chain. I am tempted to add in another station just for this climb. Thoughts? It is actually pretty good and probably the hardest route at the main cliff.

Was it Here
5.7 (definitely a 5.8 at least)
Cleaning has also improved this route. A couple of broken bits of rock have changed things so going right at the roof is now the way to go. This is pretty fun as well. I don't know if I would like to lead this though. While it certainly protects, it may be a bit pumpy to place pro. Heading left at the first roof is also another way to go. To do this, try underclinging the pocket at the base of the roof. Is 5.8 a reasonable grade for this route? In comparison to the other routes in Waterton?

Left Useless
With the extra traffic around here, I am wondering if replacing the fixed pins with a chain station is warranted. The extra traffic may turn this into a decent beginner route. Thoughts?

Right Way
This new route is to the right of Chainman. There are two single bolts at the edge of the large roof. The route at the bottom is a series of very nice steep pulls that appear to have very good pro. At 2/3 height there is a short difficult section (5.8). Climbing the roof is a bit sharp and puts you above your top rope anchors (5.9). This is another good route, despite how unappealing it may look from the ground

Also I looked at the picture on page 86 in the 3rd edition, and the climber to the left is clearly on the crux (the roof with the pocket where you can go left or right) of "Was it here" not Centerfold as labeled. Also the right hand climber is exactly between Centerfold and Chainman, not necessarily on Centerfold as labeled (although that is the route he did head up if I remember the day the picture was taken)

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Mt. Harrison

Climbed the ice coulior on the North face of Mt. Harrison on Saturday with Jason Wilcox from Calgary. The conditions were stellar. A touch of fresh snow on the ice, mostly clear skies and temps hanging around 0 degrees celsius all the way to the summit made for another awesome day in the mountains. I don't remember exactly but i believe there's about 5000' of hieght gain with the summit at 11020'. The decent down the SW coulior really sucks but it's still the best way and quickest way down. We left the truck at around 5:15am and summited at 11:40 am. We took about 40 minutes for lunch and then proceeded down. We arrived back at the campsite at 5:30pm. We were in our truck and heading home at 6:00pm. It took 2 1/2 hrs to arrive back on the pavement at the Galloway sawmill just east of Jaffrey B.C. and arrived home at 11:30 pm that nite. It's not a particularily technical climb and it is a long calf burning day but well worth the effort, especially if your getting tired of the heat.
Here's the link to Jason's website:

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