Mt. MacDonald's "little face" and the F.A. of "Prime Rib"

Tags: Posted on November 07, 2007

PRIME RIB  ★★★ 5.11b 600 m, Colin Moorhead, Jon Walsh - June 26 2004 Mt. Mcdonald's Little Face, Rogers Pass B.C.

Prime Rib takes the prominent rib just left of center of the face, and is more or less a plumb line up to a “nipple” on the ridge, down and left of the summit.  The route is characterized  by a good mix of face and crack climbing on compact, incut, and very clean quartzite from base to summit   The climbing route was then rappelled in an electrical storm (11 raps in total), however the rappel line for the first four pitches is to climbers left.  Ascent time: 12 hours from base to ridge on the FA. 

Approach:  Park at a pullout above second snow shed, take a trail (west end of pullout) to the creek, and head upstream for about 50 meters to where the creek splits  into three.  Three log bridges lead to old growth which is much easier traveling then the slide alder.  Hike about  15 minutes up the old growth, traverse the slide alder until an avalanche path is reached and continue up the base of the face.  Fortunately in late June there is still lots of avalanche debris which makes travel easy to the base of the face.  Total time from car: 2 hours.  It is also possible to scramble steep trees between the two prominent avalanche paths .

P1   Start up a corner at the left side of the rib past a fixed nut, and continue up blocky slabs towards the right side of huge roof.  
       5.8 - 60 meters
P2   Climb a right facing corner, at the right end of the roof and belay on the prow above.  5.8 - 60 meters
P3   Continue up small corners up the prow, step left and belay below a steep, clean, white, left facing corner.  5.8 - 60 meters

* note: pitches 1-3 could be simul-climbed

P4   A beautiful left facing corner.  A short squeeze chimney, followed by hand and finger jams leads to a terrace.  5.10c - 60 m
       (belay takes #3.5 and #4 camelot)
P5   Walk to the base of the obvious pinnacle and climb the left side of it.  5.10a - 55 meters

* note: the rappel line continues down a gully near the base of the pinnacle.  Rap of a tree on the ledge, after about fifty meters there is a nut station around a corner (climbers left), after one or two more raps, traverse a narrow ledge (climbers right) and rap off a small tree at the end of the ledge, over the big roof and down to a nut/piton anchor on the slab.  One more rap to the ground.

P6   A stellar hand crack up the left facing corner leads to the top of the pinnacle (belay off green camelot sized cams, just above  
       a two nut rappel anchor on top of pinnacle for a better view of the next pitch)  .  5.9 - 35meters
P7   Step right off the pinnacle, climb up a short right facing corner, and start traversing right on face holds past a fixed piton.  
       Climb up a few moves (fixed piton), and climb diagonally up and right on small face holds, to another fixed piton below a roof.  
       Step right around an arete, and move up and right and belay at the base of a left trending groove.  A spicy pitch that is a tad 
        run out.  3 fixed pitons total (could use a couple more KB's and LA's).  5.11a - 35 meters
P8   Climb up the left trending groove, then up steep jugs and to where it is possible to make some exposed moves right past a   
       teetering TV sized flake that (should be trundled) to gain a blocky ramp that heads up and right.  Belay on a ledge about 5  
       meters above a slung block (rappel anchor)  5.10 d - 44 meters

* rappel note: from the slung block, a 60m diagonal rappel reaches the pinnacle (top of P6) - some gear needed for directionals.

P9    Move right along a ledge for a few meters to below a small roof.  Steep laybacking pulls around the left side of the roof (#4 
        camelot) and more steep technical moves continue up a corner for about ten meters.  A tricky traverse left, leads to easier
        ground which heads straight up on good holds.  Belay at fixed nut and piton (rappel anchor)  5.11b - 58 meters

P10  Climb a few meters right of a slimy gully towards some overhangs.   Finger traverse left below the overhangs and step across 
        the gully and easier terrain leads to small tree (rappel anchor).  #2 and #3 camelot for the belay   5.10c - 55 meters
P11  Climb up and through an overhanging slot and continue up moderate terrain.  5.10b - 58 meters
P12  A short pitch up and left to the ridge (slung block rappel anchor).   5.9 - 15 meters

Rack:  60 meter ropes, a double set of cams from #0 TCU to #3 Camelot, 1 #3.5 and 1 #4 Camelot, 1 set of nuts, 5 pitons: 3 KB's, 2 LA's.  Pitch 7 is the only one that pitons are might be needed.  All belays are on good ledges.  It would be possible to continue up easy ground to the summit of the little face and then over to the NW ridge of Mt. McDonald, and down the Herdman couloir.  See "Selkirks South" for more info.


Colin on the pitch 7


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