Rivers of Babylon - A new Route on Mt Wilson

Rivers of Babylon VI M6+ WI5+R 500 m

On Nov. 26 and 27, Paul McSorley and I climbed a new 9 pitch route on Mt. Wilson in the bowl between Mixed Monster and Ice Nine. "Rivers of Babylon" is the central line of three ice flows. The climbing is sustained, technical and fun the entire way. It was also quite delicate and often run-out. We climbed mostly rock that traversed left and right on natural weaknesses through the overhanging buttress, for four pitches to gain the thin flow, which provided excellent thin ice and mixed climbing for another five pitches. Good screws were rare to non existent, however tool placements came easily. No bolts were placed and the rock is generally excellent by rockies standards. We fixed three ropes on the first four pitches on day one, descended to Rampart Creek hostel for the night, and the next day ascended our ropes and climbed the rest of the route. A one day ascent would be impressive, but doable by a very strong party. This route is probably best earlier in the season and will be extremely dangerous when the avalanche hazard increases.

Approach: Ascend the creek bed from the road to the base 1.5 - 2 hours (600m vertical).

P1 - M6+ 60m - 20 meters up a slabby left trending corner, past ice patches to a steep smear for 20 meters, and then trend right up rock weakness (crux) for 20 meters to a ledge. One fixed piton at belay and one at crux.

P2 - M5 65m - A pure rock pitch. Trend right towards a chimney and follow chimney to the top of a yellow pinnacle.

P3 - M4 30m - Traverse right, up a corner, traverse right again and belay at the base of left facing corner.

P4 - M6 65m - Up the icy off-width corner to a big snow ledge. Fixed piton at crux bulge.

P5 - WI 3 60m - We avoided a vertical thin ice pillar by ascending a snow / ice gully to the right and traversing back left to the main ice flow.

P6 -WI 5 R M6 60m - 25 meters of steep mushrooms to a narrow gully (1 - 3 meters wide) of very thin, average 2 cm thick ice (good rock pro in excellent rock). Best pitch of route. Belay at fixed nuts (rappel station).

P7 - WI 4+R 69m - A braided creek of thin ice veins. Left and right up the fattest ice.

P8 - WI 5 R 60m - A thin vertical curtain (15m no-pro) then straight forward thin WI 3 and mushrooms to the final pillar.

P9 - WI 5+R 30m - Overhanging mushrooms and a steep pillar.

Rappel route for pitches 5 to 9 off v-threads except where noted. From the snow ledge at the top of pitch 4, we descended a 35 degree snow ramp (climbers left), to where it flattens out around the middle of the bowl. One 65m rap off a horn and one 60m rap from piton station above a small ledge makes the ground.

Rack: 1 set of nuts, 2 sets of cams from 0.5" to 3.5" and 1 #4 camelot, a few pitons, screws, 70 meter ropes recommended.

Topo by Paul McSorley