Rock climbing

The Cupcake Conspiracy

Tags: Posted on June 20, 2016

The Cupcake Conspiracy

After failing to find any alpine routes in decent shape late last October, due to extremely mild conditions, plan B landed us in the Ghost River area with our sights set on establishing a rock route up some untouched blue streaks on a virtually untouched wall in Bonanza Bay.  Michelle roped gunned Bonanza and I followed with a pack full of ropes, bolts and a drill.  We came in from above figuring out most of the intended line on the way down, and got it mostly bolted in the next day and half before the season’s first snow storm brought progress to a chilly halt.  It was a different yet enjoyable adventured discovering a way up a wall of high quality limestone with virtually no options for any natural gear.  Six months later, we finally made it back, drilling the crux pitch on lead, and sending it along with the rest of the route in a fun day.  

Lots more potential around here for more routes like this one, and having two or three like on the wall would allow for bigger days.

The Beta:
5 pitches, 150m, 5.11+   First ascent Michelle Kadatz and Jon Walsh, June 12, 2016.   A fun bolted route in the on mostly excellent rock in the middle of the South facing Bonanza Bay wall, about halfway between Bonanza and the Bonanza decent gully.  All belay stations are equipped with Fixe rap rings.  16 draws needed and 2 or 3 of them should be extendable.  Two ropes is best for getting back down.  A 70-meter rope works for almost all rappels although at this point, it’s unknown if it will get you down pitch 2 but likely very close.      
Lots more potential around here for more routes like this one, and having two or three like on the wall would allow for bigger days.

The grades aren’t confirmed although some friends repeated it the day after we finished it.  Perhaps some more feedback will help confirm the grades.

Pitch 1,  5.10a 10 bolts, 35-meters.  It starts behind two good sized spruce trees about 50 meters right of Bonanza, and should be easy to find.   Follow the bolt line to good ledge.     
Pitch 2, 5.11c/d  15 bolts, 40-meters.   Face climb up and right from the belay towards a blue-streaked corner.  Head left at a roof (extendable draws useful here), and continue trending up and left around the corner to small ledge and a station.  
Pitch 3, 5.11d/12a 7 bolts,  15-meters.  Head up and right towards a roof, before making a crux move back left through it, which leads to a station at a decent stance.    
Pitch 4, 5.10b 10 bolts, 35-meters.  Prickly featured holds lead up perfect grey rock to an anchor at a big ledge on the right.  
Pitch 5, 5.10d 11 bolts, 35-meters.  Straightforward face climbing to the rim.   

Blue Jeans

Tags: Posted on September 14, 2014

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



Bow Valley Rock

Tags: Posted on July 20, 2013

Rock climbing in the Bow Valley has been so much fun lately, and although I've been mostly seasoning single pitch sport climbs at Bataan and Lake Louise, I've been really stoked on a couple of multi-pitch lines I've recently done.

Super Mega-Fauna (named after an encounter with a bear on the trail) was put up a few years back by the late, great Dave Thompson.  Dave was one of the legendary route setters of the BV and this route is a prime example of his amazing drive.  Sustained, technical, well bolted, and perched just above tree line ousted of Banff, it's a perfect route for summer.  8 pitches up the NE face of Mt. Edith and it definitely gets my recommendation.

Michelle Kadatz on Super Mega-Fauna

The NE face of Mt. Edith.  SMF goes right up the middle of it.

Michelle halfway up the route


Another awesome line I climbed by another of the BV's best route setters is Silent Auction.  Greg Tos opened this one up just a few months ago, and with five pitches of 5.12-, three of 5.11 and one of 5.10, this has to be one of the most sustained at its grade in the area.  Highly recommended!  Although it was sunny the day we climbed, there had been quite a bit of rain the week before, and we found the crux holds on the second and fourth pitches to be a little damp.  Unfortunately the damp holds prevented us from getting the on-sight, on those pitches, but otherwise, we both managed to on-sight the rest of the route. There is so much good looking stone in this giant grotto on Grotto mountain just outside of Canmore, that I can only imagine this is perhaps the start of a stellar future climbing zone!   

Samuel lambert on the 3rd pitch

Sam following the 4th pitch

Looking accross and all the unclimbed rock!


Sam following the wildly overhanging 6th pitch

Nice water streaks on the 7th pitch

Sam locking into a knee bar on the 9th pitch, and getting the first bit of sun of the day at around 3:30 in the afternoon.  Climbing the whole route in the shade on a warm day made for perfect conditions.  We both climbed every pitch pitch in a t-shirt, and hauled a light bag with a light puffy jacket each for the belays. 


As I write this, I'm only a few hours away from my second trip into the Bugaboos this summer.  So Stoked!!!  The first trip was amazing with adventures on the Minaret Tower and amongst the Pigeon Feathers, and no doubt the second one will be super fun too.   I'll post some pics when I'm back in August...