Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Route: Big Corona (V, M7 W5+ A0, about 500m)

Hooked up with my good friend and climbing partner Dave Edgar for a two day adventure putting up a big new mixed route. Dave and I hadn't climbed together since doing the Grand Central Coulior last spring and this outing proved to be just as exciting and almost as exhausting. The climb is on Triangle Peak along the David Thompson Highway about 10 minutes from the Crossing. The climb is visible from the road high on the cliffs across the river near Thompson Creek. It's named after what used to be the favourite beverage in the Nordegg bar and the fact that years ago I thought this peak was called Corona Ridge. After holding our breath and crossing an ice bridge over the river we had a lovely time bushwhacking uphill on our skis for 3.5 hours. Apparently Dave knows lots of naughty words. We bivied at the highest trees below the route. The next day we climbed and rappelled the route which proved to have fantastic climbing throughout on mostly good rock with adequate gear. After arriving back at the base just as it became dark, we carried our skis back down through the bush which was great fun, especially when it started raining. To top it off we arrived at the river to find it open and flowing rapidly. We randomly selected a direction and started skiing, eventually finding a scary ice bridge to cross on. At this point is was raining hard and we decided that instead of just skiing the last 500m to the cars, the best way to end our outing would be to get lost and ski around in circles while bushwhacking through the darkness for another three hours. At 2:30am we finally found the highway and collapsed into our cars. Despite our navigation errors and the burly approach, the climb is excellent and was well worth the effort. Route Description: The climb starts well left of the ice above and follows the only major weaknesses (obvious chimney corner systems) up through the lower two cliff bands with 5 pitches of climbing up to 5.8. Traverse right along a big scree/snow ledge for 10 minutes until below the ice. To get onto the hanging dagger would involve overhanging blank rock with zero gear, so instead we aimed for a narrow ribbon of ice on the left. The pitches on the upper cliff band were as follows: P1: (50m, M7, W5) Start up a few ice mushrooms then climb up and left following weaknesses on the rock for 30m to reach the ice. The first 20m is a bit rotten but has decent gear and isn't too hard. Above this, the crux moves are not very well protected but the rock is good, the last gear is about 10 feet down behind a suspect flake, it may be possible to get a piton in higher. Above the crux, make a strenuous pull through a small roof onto the thin strip of ice and follow this to a rock belay under a roof. This was one of the hardest pitches I have ever led in the mountains. P2: (35m, M5, W5+) Pull back onto a very steep iced up arĂȘte (never seen anything quite like it before) and climb to the top of the ice. Continue up a steep and exciting chimney to a belay on a small perch. P3: (55m, A0, W4) Lower or downclimb to the right until you can pendulum across to the main ice flow. Climb nice grade 4 until out of rope. P4: (60m, W4) Follow the ice to the top. Gear: Cams to #4 camelot, nuts, 6 or 8 pitons including at least 3 KB’s, small Tricams and a large hex, 8 or more screws including stubbies. There are no bolts on the route. More pics: The route as seen from the highway. We started on the left and then worked our way up to the sliver of ice in the middle of the upper rock band. Dave on one of the lower 5.8 pitches. Looking up at the crux pitch. The climb gains the sliver of ice on the left, not the main dagger. Dave starting up the ice arete pitch. J. Mills CRAG Owner & Head Guide


  1. Good going Guys. Hope you had a Corona to celebrate!

  2. Ah, finally the Big Corona has been rendered immortal through a first ascent naming ceremony. Hope things are going well for you J. It sounds like you are as busy as ever and, through reading the above route description, still climbing stuff burly enough to make my legs shake just reading it. Keep up the good work.