Mt Alberta North Face
Tags: Posted on September 22, 2007
Mt. Alberta North Face The climb: We soloed the shrund (which was easy), and simulclimbed to the traverse ledge where we unroped. After the bulk of the icefield, we angled right and traversed below a rib of the yellow band and found short WI 3 steps through it, that led to the base of the headwall, and a obvious natural system of grooves and corners. Here we roped up and swapped leads to the summit. The headwall pitches are described as follows: Pitch 1 - 25m: up the left facing corner (shattered rock) and slightly right to a small stance before the next corner... M6 Pitch 2 - 45m: Up the corner (better rock) for about 15 meters. When the crack pinches shut and the wall overhangs, make a delicate finger traverse right with no pro for 6 meters to a ledge (possible belay here). Continue up a hand crack to a pedestal belay stance below and right of prominent yellow rock scar... 5.10+ Pitch 3 - 55m: Up left facing corner and move left past prominent yellow rock scar. Continue up left facing corner past the roof (crux) and up the crack above (sustained) to another small stance... 5.11b Pitch 4 - 50m: Up the groove above (minimal gear), and follow the mixed weakness left, then right, to a finger crack in a corner, through a roof and step right to a good stance. We belayed here off two good ice screws in a pool of ice that formed below a small overhang, and a piton... 5.10 R Pitch 5 - 40 m: Traverse left in an arc with difficult gear towards a ledge and a right facing corner. Belay before the corner. One piton fixed midway - only gear left on route... 5.10 + / 5.11- (we tried going straight up but backed off on 5.11 R terrain with friable rock) Pitch 6 - Up the corner, and contour left towards the exit ice field. Continue up ice until out of rope... 5.10- WI3 Three more 70 meter pitches up the very brittle upper icefield (maximum 60 %) and some simul climbing up the NE ridge gets you to the summit. The Rack (what we brought - it seemed to be perfect, at least for us): 5 screws; cams: 2 each from #.3 camelot to #1 camelot, one #2, one #3 camelot; 1 set of stoppers; 9 pitons (mainly knifeblades and lost arrows); one pair of rock shoes (critical!). Other details: It's hard to imagine having better conditions than what we had. The rock was just warm enough for bare hands, and there was virtually no natural rockfall. It was cold enough that ice and snice provided good purchase for both tools and crampons. All pitches were on-sighted on lead, and most have run-out sections, and some marginal gear. The second and third belays were also on the marginal side, but might have been better with an extra piton or two. Although our feet were on rock 90 to 95 percent of the time, I wore my crampons the entire way, and Chris put our only pair of rock shoes on for two of his three leads (although both of those leads required some climbing in boots as well). It was just mixed enough that crampons were an important asset on the headwall. Being avid mixed participants, we're used to climbing a lot of rock in our crampons, however, others might be better off in rock shoes under the same or drier conditions.