Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anderson Peak

On June 18, 2005, Dave Stephens and I scrambled Newman Peak and Avion Ridge. On the way out I noticed the dominating North Face of Anderson Peak and I thought to myself, “I’d like to try and climb that”. I had no idea what kind of an obsession I was creating but it was one that would leave me frustrated, humbled and elated. I would dream about climbing this face…..but sometimes I would wake up dreaming about falling off of this face.
June 25 2006
Dave Stephens, Trevor McMillan and I scrambled up the East Ridge with the idea of climbing the East Ridge to the summit. We ended up climbing up the South Face to the summit ridge. At the top of the ridge I peered over to have a look at the North Face and it was impressive and it fanned the flame of my growing obsession.
June 23, 2007
Brett Wiesser and I decided to go explore the North Face. We climbed the East Ridge to tree line and dropped over to the climbers right to large coulior visible from the Red Rock Canyon parking lot. The couloir was filled with snow so we put on crampons and had a fun climb to the notch. We then scrambled up through the rock steps through some serious 4th class scrambling. We finally roped up for an easy 5.3 pitch to a bench. We moved over to the climbers left about 20 meters and climbed a 55 meter, 5.5 pitch to another ramp. Here we were confronted with a daunting face. After a long while as to where the route needed to go, we moved to the climbers left about 30 meters, drove in two knife blades at about knee height for a belay and prepared to climb. Either one of us got more than 5 meters. Humbled, we prepared to rappel. Four rappels got us down and we headed home.
July 21, 2007
Brett and I headed back for retribution. The couloir was dry so we had some fun scrambling up to where we roped up the first time. We climbed this 5.3 pitch, did the 5.5 pitch and arrived at our previous high point. We clipped into our pins that we had left last time, organized our gear and I headed up determined not to intimidated. The rock was fairly good, pro was quite good but it was sustained. I kept telling myself that it was only a 5.6. I climbed a little higher. Some of these holds were pretty thin. I came to a bulge that was pushing me out to get over it. I kept telling myself that it was only a 5.6. I kept going wondering where the heck I was going to get a belay. The crack finally kicked back a bit and led into a wide chimney. Finally at 58 meters there was a 6” ledge to stand on where I could set up a belay. As I was setting up an anchor I realized that I could sit under a small roof off to my right. I set a clove hitch into my anchor and slid over to my seat, drove a pin into the roof, clipped in and more or less breathed a sigh of relief. I belayed Brett up. We decided that was enough. We rappelled down to our belay station. This time we followed the ramp around to the east to see if there was an easier way to get off without all the rappelling. Sure enough, about 150 meters to the East, one short rappel to another ramp and another 60 meters got us to some easy scrambling.
September 10, 2007
I managed to talk a good friend of mine, Jim Everard, into coming down to Lethbridge and try climbing this amazing route I had found. We camped in Chris’s back yard in Waterton and got up early enough for a 6:20 am start. We climbed through all the stuff that Brett and I had climbed. When we got to the final pitch that Brett and I had done, Jim took over the lead. I think he was surprised at how sustained it was. Once I had arrived to the belay, we reorganized the gear and I took off for the next lead. This was about a 30 meter, 5.6 pitch. This brought us to a nice ledge and a prominent dihedral that is visible from the parking lot. It looks like one of the statues from Easter Island, so we named this rock “Easter Rock”. This was good quality limestone. Solid and steep. We walked around trying to figure out how we were going to get up. Around to the right was an off width crack that was slightly leaning out. I tried this several times until I had nothing left and got nowhere. We moved back around to the front and Jim decided to try another crack on the front of the face. He did a nice job in a very awkward crack. I was really unsure what to rate this pitch but we decided on 5.9, 30 meters. By the time we got this pitch in, we were both tired, worried about running out of daylight and worried if we were going to be able to get off o.k. We decided to bail. We drove in a couple of pins and rapped off to the bottom of Easter Rock, drove in two more pins and rapped off to the top of the 5.9 pitch. When we went to pull the ropes they got stuck. Fortunately we still had both ropes so Jim prussiked back up, freed them and we finished our rappels and headed home. I admit, as glad as I was to be back on solid ground I was still really frustrated. I would spend all winter dreaming about this route. Sometimes dreaming about falling off of this route.
August 02, 2008
Jim and I headed back for another try. This time we would bivy up on the ridge at tree line. That would save us a couple of hours in the morning and 2000’ of height gain.
We met at the Kilmorey in the pouring rain. Lousy forecast… was supposed to be 0% POP. We decided to post pone until the next day. The following afternoon things were looking up so we headed up the ridge. This time we decided we would scramble up the East Ridge as high as we could go and see if we could scramble around on goat trails to the start of our first 5.9 pitch. We crawled into our sleeping bags that nite under beautiful star filled skies. When we woke up the next morning the weather was definitely changing. We grabbed our climbing gear and headed up the ridge well aware of the building cloud and the upslope winds. When we had scrambled as high as we could we stopped to ponder the weather. We both decided that the weather was changing and a storm was blowing in. We dropped our gear and quickly followed the ramp around towards the North side to see if it would get us to the start of the first 5.9 pitch which we discovered that it did. Both very frustrated we headed back to our climbing gear and then back to the bivy site and then home. We got soaked on the way out and witnessed one hell of a lightning storm on Anderson. Was I ever glad that I wasn’t on that face right then. It looked like this route was going to have to wait another year. As it turned out, Jim phoned me a few days later to let me know that there was a chance that he could swing another trip out this way in a couple of weeks. There would be another chance.
August 17, 2008
I decided to take Dave Mulder with me to drop some gear ahead of time at our bivy site and maybe climb a pitch or two just to give Dave a feel of what it’s like in the alpine. We didn’t start very early and when we headed up the ridge the temps were about 35c. We dropped some gear off at our bivy site and scrambled up the ridge as high as we could. Once we got to the ramp there was a huge black cloud building up over Anderson. I thought for sure we had another lightning storm building up so once again we turned around.
August 24, 2008
I met Jim as planned at the Red Rock parking lot at 4:30 pm. We were on the trail at 5:00 and at our bivy site at 7:15 pm. We were on the trail at 5:40 am Sunday morning. We headed up the ridge to the lower ramp and cut across to the first 5.9 pitch. We climbed through the next three pitches to the top of Easter Rock. We were now on new territory and not really sure what to expect. I took the next lead. This pitch went at a 60 meter, 5.7 on horrible rock and poor to average pro. The pitch ended up in a chimney with a lot of loose rock. Jim took the next lead. This was a 50 meter, 5.7 pitch on horrible rock and poor to average pro. I was beginning to wonder if it was worth continuing however I took the next lead, a 60 meter, 5.6 on better rock but average pro. The end of this pitch got us to the upper ramp which is the base of the summit cap. The direct finish went directly above and I figured it at a 5.10b with a roof to pull through. We opted to follow the ramp around to the east for an easier finish. We found one directly above the East ridge. The finish was a 100 meter, 5.4 to the top of the buttress which is the end of the technical climbing. The rest is a scramble to the summit. We arrived at the top at 6:00 pm and were back at the parking lot at 9:00 pm that evening. A 15 ½ hour day. It felt good to finally put this baby to rest. We graded the climb a III 5.9. The rock varied from exceptionally good to exceptionally poor. The toughest parts of the climbing offered excellent pro where the easier parts of the climb had poor to average pro.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

More Choice

A couple new routes are up at the second tier at Expert's Choice.  They tackle some sharp rock left of Split Cleavage.
Consider the E & F lines on this picture approximate.  I always have to go back a few times to get them exactly right.

E:  Project
5.10+?     40m
The bottom two bolts through the brown grit haven't been placed yet.  The route heads up to the prominent left facing corner (gear in the corner).  Here it cuts right to ascend the steep horizontal breaks (bolts).  The rock is sharp, the exposure huge, and some of the sequences are hard to suss out (5.10c?).  At the top a 0.5 cam or equivalent is needed to protect the ground just before the top.  The climbing is anything but technical.  The heart of the climb is juggy with huge footholds and amazing friction.

A variation to the left at about 2/3rd is possible (not bolted).  This would continue up a series of horizontal breaks on the arete's edge.  I think Blair, me and Dave worked this route about 4 or 5 years ago.

Blair trying to figure out the start to the breaks (2004)

Chris - same place. The possible variation would follow the arete near where the knot is located. The crux of the other route is about 8 feet to the right. (2004)

F:  Project
5.11-?    40m
A couple of small to mid sized nuts protect the short slabby start (5.9).  The ground quickly steepens near the first bolt before easing off until you get to the yellow headwall above.  The climbing in the horizontal breaks is steep.  I had a hard time figuring out how to bust through this section's traverse (5.11-? or 5.10d?).  There are a number of good holds to choose from, few of which lead to feasible progress.  The rock gets sharp again after the overhang (5.10).  The bolt spacing is close because of this.  Don't wear shorts.  The breaks in the yellow headwall are still a bit dusty.  A bit more comfortizing of pricklies is also needed, however this is mainly throughout the easier upper climbing.  The rightward location of the bolt at the crux is to protect the traverse.

Both routes lead to the large ledge below Split Cleavage's upper roof.  Because a number of routes now lead up here, I decided to replace the 2 pin belay with a rap bolts.  This should limit the amount of tatter that will collect.  It also accommodates a belay for future routes up and to the left.  The pins & cam placement were too far away to be suitable or safe.  Also, the reliability of the pins, while appropriate for the character of Split Cleavage, just aren't appropriate for  other traffic.  No other reliable 2 pin stations were available on the ledge, and the other lone pin placement would require 5m of cord to tie together.  And so, while the cam placement makes for a reliable lead belay, it doesn't do much for a rap station.  I have a feeling in the future this ledge will be part of a series of 30m rap stations coming down from the top.  There is another ledge below the new station that does not yet have rap anchors.  It is below and to the right of Folk Story's anchors.  Another good line leads up from here all the way to the top.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008


There have been a number of interesting ethics discussions over at LVM as of late.  It is nice to see that site getting more active as of late.  I thought I would post some links to the more interesting threads.  I think having a clear set of ethics for an area is nice.  It allows different styles of climbing to remain without being watered down over the years.  So, with no particular comments, and no hidden purpose beside illuminating some interesting discussion, here are some local links for those ever wishing to think about long term communities.


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