Josh Wharton and I must've used up our luck and good weather on his last two highly productive visits, because we just got pretty much shut down on all things alpine we were interested in. During the exact same dates as a year ago, we enjoyed a successful and rare repeat of the North Twin's Tower, while freezing levels remanied close to 4000m, and valley temps crested the 30 degree mark. This year, four out of the 7.5 days we just spent together were full winter days with relatively large amounts of snowfall, all the way to the valley, that firmly slammed the door on everything we hoped to do. We still drove many hundreds of kilometers trying to stay optimistic and psyched, but in the end, we had to settle for a warm-up day at Acephale (our favorite Bow Valley crag) before the apocolyptic weather began, and two days on Yamnuska working a 5.13 multi-pitch sport climb called Blue Jeans. It's not that there wasn't alpine objectives that would've been doable and perhaps enjoyable, we're just picky and like to stay focused on harder technical routes whenever possible.
Blue Jeans has only had one proper repeat (by Vikki Weldon) since it's first ascent four years ago (by Derek Galloway), and Josh was psyched to make the third. The highly technical climbing made quick redpointing a difficult propositon though, and it turned out that a mere two days wouldn't be enough to figure out the beta, and then link all the moves of the two crux pitches. Anyways, it was fun trying and a bit more effort next year will be needed for success.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the Blue Jeans adventure was the amount of snow we had to plough through just to get to it - thigh deep at times!!! Normally it would take an hour of hiking, although with all the fresh snow, it took over two hours on our first try, and it was -9 degrees Celcius at the car park when we left! Then in full sun, it was so hot on the rock that it felt hard to stick to the steep limestone. A couple days later, our apprach time was cut in half thanks to the trail being in, and some cloud cover greatly improved the friction. The first three pitches cruised by, but the fourth was the end of the redpoint attempt. Josh came close, but in the end we retreated. Here's a few pics:
On the approach trail. Had someone not hiked three quarters of the way the day before, we wouldn't have made it
Josh following the first pitch
Josh onsighting the second pitch
Josh starting the third pitch
Josh on the fourth pitch
Zig Zag: 5.12-, 250m
First ascent: Sean Isaac and Jon Walsh 2006
-8 pitches: .10b, 11c, 10b, 10a, 10a, 11b, 12a, 11a **grades are not confirmed**
-Rack: 12 draws, a few medium to large stoppers, and a single set of camelots from #.3 to #2
-The start is just left of red shirt and cross it halfway up the first pitch. From here, you can more or less follow the bolts and natural features without getting lost. The climb is mostly bolted but there are about 10 - 12 gear placements in total. More beta and photos to come soon...