Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blessed Rage (WI6+, 5.7, 250m)

Went raging up Blessed Rage on Saturday with Steve Swenson. Well, actually it was really fun and the "raging" was kept to a minimum, although I did curse at the compact rock a couple of times while trying to build anchors!

Foreshortened view of the route.

The route is located at the back of Emerald Lake in Yoho, and is seldom climbed due to it's serious location, difficult climbing, and the fact that it doesn't form every year. Snow conditions were great, so the 3 hour ski approach was reasonable right now despite crossing many large avalanche paths.

The climb started with a long pitch of rotten and detached but fairly low angle ice. Above this a short romp up a snow gully placed us below a mixed corner that looked easy. It turned out that exiting out the top of the corner was very tenuous and thin climbing, kind of like trying to stand on a Coke can without crushing it. After swimming up some steep snow above the corner, a bit of shell ice led to a cave below the meat of the route. Steve won the rock-paper-scissors so he led the very steep pitch of overhanging ice mushrooms and delicate icicles. The ice gradually improved to good quality near the top of the climb.

The sustained challenges of the route made it take alot longer than we expected, and by the time we rappelled back down it was dark. The snow quality was excellent for skiing, but it is always "interesting" skiing in the dark with climbing boots & heavy packs on.

I'm glad we got this route in while we did, the next morning the temperatures were on a rapid free-fall to the -30C mark!

More about Blessed Rage on the Canadian Rockies I.C.E. site.

J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide

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