Friday, August 19, 2011

AthaB N. Ridge (III, 5.5) & Louis Gmoser Route (III, 5.8)

Spent four action packed days with Scott from Edmonton last week. Scott has a strong rock climbing background and was new to alpine climbing but seemed to be a natural!

We started out with a skills day at the Columbia Icefields and worked on alpine ice climbing skills, anchor building, rope ascending, and more.

Scott setting up his prussics to ascend the rope out of a crevasse.

The next day we climbed the excellent and rarely done North Ridge of Mt. Athabasca (III, 5.5). The route involves lots of exposed scrambling, a few steeper rock pitches, a few pitches of snow, and a bit of ice. Overall it's probably the most involved route on the mountain and provides a good mix of challenges. It has a reputation for loose rock, but if you stick to the steeper right-hand side of the ridge it's actually quite solid.

One of the numerous scrambling sections along the ridge.

The "Scottish Gully" high on the route. This pitch used to offer some steeper ice, but nowadays is pretty gentle snow climbing.

After a bit of a sleep-in we headed to a crag on the David Thompson Highway to work on alpine rock climbing skills such as complex anchor building, shortroping, and piton craft.

Pounding in a piton.

The weather forecast for Thursday was crappy so we took a day off and met early Friday morning to have a shot at Mt. Louis. We chose the classic Gmoser Route (III, 5.8) which has about 700 meters of steep climbing and is quite hard for the grade. The rock on Louis is superb and the day was nice and warm so we both really enjoyed the climb.

About halfway up with Mt. Edith in the background.

I'm pretty sure Scott is hooked on alpine climbing, and I hope to see him in the hills in the future!

J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide

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