Monday, December 28, 2009

Nemesis - WI6, 160m

Nemesis, a classic grade 6 route at the Stanley Headwall.

Just before Christmas, Sylvain from Calgary called with his sights on Nemesis, a mega-classic hard route at the Stanley Headwall. Conditions were good and he certainly had all the requisite skills for a big grade 6 ice climb so we decided to go for it on the 23rd.

Sylvain skiing towards the base of Nemesis.

When we left the parking lot it was -24C and we knew it wouldn't be any warmer on the shaded Headwall but we also knew that if we just kept moving we would be fine. A nice two hour ski brought us to the base of the route.

Climbing a long 1st pitch on Nemesis.

The first two pitches were nice grade 4 & 5 climbing and we made good time to the halfway ledge. From the ledge we got down to business and headed into the grade 6 mushrooms. Some funky moves through overhanging bulges & semi-detached chandeliered sections led to more solid, but steep, ice. Sylvain followed his first pitch of grade 6 with no problems and was psyched at the belay! A final pitch of steep ice gave us a good forearm pump but went smoothly. Two long rappells with twin 70m ropes quickly put us back at our skis just as it was getting dark.

Sylvain on the second pitch of Nemesis.

Skiing out in climbing boots by headlamp was suprisingly easy thanks to good snow and a good track. It was still hard on the legs though!
Back in Canmore a big dinner and some well deserved pints ended a great day in the mountains.

A note about Stanley Headwall conditions: Nemesis & Suffer Machine are both in good shape, French Reality looks thin but doable, Sinus Gully looked good, and everything else looks very thin or non-existant this year. The avalanche hazard is currently quite reasonable and there is less snow than I expected, this can of course change very quickly!

J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide

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