22 February 2010


A Page from Mixed Climbs in the Canadian Rockies, Sean Isaac

The day after Sea of Vapors we headed up north to track down Jacobs Ladder and some other stuff, by carefully piecing together all available information we managed to find nothing at all, the conclusion was that the pages for Mt Hunter area are full of errors! (maybe the map refs are helpful??)
As every cloud has an icy lining we trekked back south to reconnoiter a route that we had heard some rumours about. Cryophobia next to Hydrophobia (very cool sounding routes) had seen five or six attempts and at least three other (four, nice one Carlos and Tato) ascents this season.

The thin line on the right is Cryophobia.

The slopey, rising traverse is Dermophobia. This bouldering area in the Waiparous / Ghost is good but appears undeveloped (Ramon Marin)

There might be a Geophobia soon with any luck?? and all of these routes are only a short walk from the 4x4.

So after scoping out the approach and stashing some gear we headed home to psyche up for an early start and a crack at this awesome route. A painfully early alarm began the big day and eventually we got to the start of the route. Ramon kicked off the first hard pitch (see his blog for his view of it) then it was over to me for the crux pitch.

Ramon dwarfed by the bottom half of the huge wall.

Me nearing the crux (Ramon Marin).

I was hoping to onsight the route but on my first attempt at the crux of the crux pitch I pulled out on a flat hold above the roof and took a small fall so we pulled the ropes and Ramon tried the pitch. He got no higher than me on this attempt so we pulled the ropes and I had another try, Knowing which hold not to use I got established above the roof and calmed my forearms enough to make it up a seriously decaying dagger of ice and across a ledge that was being bombed by ice melting off the sunny top pitches. Nice!

The top half of the route was harder to correlate with the guide book description (the route was originally climbed in leaner ice conditions) so we actually climbed it in two long pitches, not so smart maybe but it worked! First Ramon took on some more tough rock and then ice that I didn't want to touch while seconding the pitch (I jumped off at one point to avoid it). The ice looked like easier climbing than the rock but at the price of no protection as the bolts were out of reach to the side. When a sensible belay was reached we later found that it was almost the start of the M6 pitch.

The boldest climbing I have seen Ramon undertake.

Then I got involved with some of the boldest climbing that I never want to do again, a 55m pitch of steep delaminated ice with 8 ice screws for protection (I clipped 2 or 3 bolts meant to protect the start of the M6 pitch). Most worrying, at two or three locations during the pitch there were wide sheets of ice maybe 5m high that echoed like a drum when I hit them. When I saw a wide horizontal crack, partially re-frozen, I hooked the axe over the bottom edge then when I looked in was unhappy to have confirmed what I had previously suspected; that there was a wide gap between rock and ice.
No pro.
Tired arms.
No choice.
Push on.

Eventually I stepped on to a good ledge at the top.

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