I would not have picked Sabbra for my first big route of the season. Jeremy and perfect weather can be persuasive however:
I would not have picked Sabbra for my first big route of the season. Jeremy and perfect weather can be persuasive however:
…for a rare slide show presentation on my favorite climbs at Washington Pass and the Northwest!
It is a fundraiser for the Liberty Bell Conservation Initiative, so bring yours friends, and lots of money!!
Register for free tickets here:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wayne-wallace-greatest-hits-tickets-45003864771?utm_term=eventname_text
here is the lists,
WA pass Top 10:
10. Labor Pains
9. Boving –S. Early
8. Clean Break
7. Rampage to Burgundy N face 6: Liberty Traverse
5: Kearney Thomas
4. The Hitchhiker
3: Gato Negro
1: the Passenger
Cascade Top 4:
2. Der Sportsman
3. Mongo Ridge
4. Southern Pickets Traverse
So the Canadian Rockies are having one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Steve suggested that we bring down our grade chasing ambitions a whole grade. Fair enough, as it is near impossible to keep the feeling in your fingers while climbing. Every morning started out below O fahrenheit.
With our lungs hurting from a recent bout with THAT flu, I met Jenn up there, and we were lucky enough to get Steve’s place early! (Thanks Steve!!) We took his advice and got late starts on easier ground for the first couple of days. As it gradually got “warmer”, we headed for sunny, tougher projects that we did indeed enjoy. We also reveled in the company of Lane for the last 2 routes.
It was also a pleasure to take it a bit “easy” and have a vacation type trip, complete with bubble baths, and great food(Thanks, Paul, Kat, Steve, Ann, Lane, Jeff, and Stephanie!!)
Now back to 60 hour work weeks for next few months…: (
I am continually amazed at the great lengths I am willing to go in order to ice and mixed climb! With the multi billion dollar project/job cruising along at 55-60 hours/week, Doug and I (still)drove up to Lillooet after work Friday evening in rain and Seattle traffic, and picked off 2 classic routes on Saturday and Sunday. Then, back in time for another long Monday push at work. Damn I am tired, but happy to still have some capacity similar to when I was younger!
The 1st edition cover photo for West Coast Guide shows a pretty pitch named Capricorn. I had always wanted to do it, but was put off by the long approach. It was worth the slog however, though we messed up the approach. It is easy to accidentally start to far lookers right of the true approach. The main pitch/crux was steep at the top and wouldn’t have been that tough were it not for chandeliered conditions.
The main reason for going to all the trouble of driving hour after hour was to take a shot at a very new mixed route that seemed to be my type of climb. The rating for Bitcoin Billionaire intimidated after getting humbled in the Canadian Rockies by similarly rated mixed climbs, but the route has a more alpine feel, and the rating shouldn’t scare off many aspirants. The highlights are the scritchey first pitch, 2 mixed chimneys with fun moves, and a satisfying wi4 finish. The setting is great, views and solitude lend a remote feel. It worked out to simo a few of the steps in the middle, and combine pitches. We placed a dozen rock pieces, and stretched the ropes out in 5 pitches. Nice day out to be striving for adventure! Thanks to Doug, Jenn, Caroline, and the BB FA team for putting out the good times!
Lillooet British Columbia Canada. is a small blue-collar town that was at one time popular with ice climbers, and may soon be again thanks to internet stoke. I used to go there often in my younger days, and I hope to more in the future!
Scroll past crappy pictures for account of the first ascent!
Danny O’Farrell to West Coast Ice
January 9 at 9:46am ·
After working on the Bridge River for the last 3 years and over spending over 100 plus days working on fisheries conservation and monitoring with the Xwisten First Nations, I’ve spent a lot of time day dreaming of establishing new lines in the Bridge River Valley, as it’s a very special place for me. Over the last few months, I’ve been watching a few lines form high on the walls above the river. After showing Steve and Hunter these lines, we decided to give one of the lines a go!
On Sunday, January 7, 2018; Steve Janes, Hunter Lee
and I, established a new and exciting mixed alpine style route up the Bridge River Valley called “Bitcoin Billionaire, M6, WI4, 325m”. The route was completed in 7 Pitches, approximately 43.5 km from the highway from Lillooet or 6.5 km below Terzaghi Dam. The route lies between the already established routes Salmon Stakes and A New Leash on Life” along the highway on the east side of the river. From the road you can only see the final pitch of beautiful fat blue grade 4 ice. Cross the river and gain approximately 250 of elevation to the base of the climb.
The route is a approximately 550-600m elevation of gain, from the base of the river to the top of the climb, the route itself is approximately 325m. Steve Janes says one of the best lines he’s ever climbed.
Bitcoin Billionaire M6, WI 4, 325m
Pitch 1 55m WI 4: Climb a small hanging pillar to thin ice for approxmently 25m WI4, the pitch than eases up to grade 2-3 and snow to a large ledge with tree belay.
Pitch 2: 55m M6: Climb grade 2-3 and snow 25m to gain the ledge. Traverse into an awkward and fun squeeze chimney with questionable pro, requiring making multiple crux moves involving lots of stemming, groveling, facing both directions, and knifeblades (M6, 25m). Traverse right 5m to and belay off large tree on lookers right.
Pitch 3: 65m WI 2/ M3 / Snow Ramp: Climb the long snow ramp 45m, then climb awkward 2-3/M3 for 10m, climb the remaining snowslope 10m to large tree on lookers left. Belay from tree. 70m ropes are required or belayer may have to simo climb to 10m or to small tree on lookers left to establish another belay station.
Pitch 4: 35m WI 2/Snow Ramp: Round corner from belay station on easy grade 2 and snow. Make one awkward move over rock and ice bulge to base of squeeze chimney. Belay is located on lookers right in small crack, gear to 0.5 or pins.
Pitch 5: 55m M6: Enter the chimney and get busy! Stem up on thin ice and rock to overhanging chalkstone roof M6 (Solid cam under roof, right side #2 Yellow BD). Then find stick in low quality snow and ice at the lip and grunt through the roof. Once through the roof and chalk stone enjoy fun stemming and better ice M5 to upper cirque and final tiers. Belay off good ice screws below upper cirque.
Pitch 6: 20m WI 2: Easy climbing on good ice to base of final 40m tier. Belay off good ice screws on lookers right in small alcove.
Pitch 7: 40m WI 4: Fun climbing on grade 4 on fat blue ice to top of climb. Belay off good ice.
Decent: Rappel route, using trees, v-treads and slinging ice pillars.
Jenn and I spent our first New Years together since meeting almost a year ago. We flew up to Calgary, after a busy work and holiday season. We were greeted by storm and ridiculously cold temperatures. I had no problem taking a rest day right off on day one of the trip. I was exhausted from mega overtime and arriving at the motel at 2 am.
Hard to believe that after dozens of trips to ice climb in the Canadian Rockies, this was the first trip that I flew up there. There are advantages and disadvantages to both modes of travel, overall I am still sold on driving up. It just allows more flexibility. Some obvious advantage to flying however are great: Not having to deal with the driving weather as much, it is an hour and a half flight from Seattle(!), and there is no dread at the end of the trip about the long drive back. Flying sets a more vacationey feel, without having the extra gear to fiddle with. I think for the quickey trips, flying is the way to go.
Day 2: Though the mercury bottomed out at -37c, we went to try Cascade but didn’t like being up there so close to the new snow and first sun on it. We scurried off to Grotto for super cold laps, where everyone was making good use of their ropes to warm up the hands. lol.
There was pressure to do something big on our last day: day 3. After agonising over the avvy danger, we decided to try Bourgeau left, figuring it would be still too cold to warm up the overhead slopes? On the lower runouts below this classic climb, we tried in earnest to release any of the lower slopes, but couldn’t. Well, up we went, enjoying sublime yet chandeliered conditions. Late on time, we raced to finish and retreat to the base just as we needed headlamps. Such a great climb, and what a great girlfriend I have!
Lungs burning after an hour long sprint to the base of the route, we barely beat the party of 3 racing us. First place in this contest gets a shot at a rarely formed ice route named Virtual Reality, a 3 pitch exposed and classic climb. Welcome to the cutthroat world of competitive ice climbing. Made fiercely so by tantalising photos on facebook and instagram, there are thousands of people that want to sink their tools as quickly as possible. Doug and I being no exception, we got up at 4 am our time. I had driven to Portland for Thanksgiving then pushed on up to Canada just for a shot at it with him on Saturday. I would not recommend starting your season on a WI6, but I have never seen this route form in my many years. It was in such great shape too. The exposure was spectacular, yet the nature of the way it formed left it in easier shape than the grade suggests.
It is such a shame that our sport is getting so crowded and competitive. Issues like this though can be managed by getting up earlier (or going late?)and training to be fast and efficient for the many demands of the sport. Maybe go for the more obscure routes too? —>
Up next we stayed in clever mode by doing an under-the-radar route called Elliot Left Hand Gully, a route near the competitive classic route Kitty Hawk. Elliots 3 pitches were fantastic, easy, but had scary top-outs on early season thin-ice-shells over flowing water. This is an obvious concern that is visible in a noted photo below (Thin ice on Elliot Left!) We didn’t get down before the rains soaked us completely and sent us driving back to the states. Good and clever luck to you this season, lets see more amazing photos, and hope for another great season!
Aaaaand…should go without saying too: If you are not the first to the base of the route, please give the upper party exclusive access to the climb when appropriate, thanks
Late season (good)luck cannot be counted on as a weekend warrior in the NW. So, when it happens there is a sense of satisfaction and the sad feeling like its over for the year too. We had the fortune of experiencing this several times during brief weather windows this fall. My focus was of course on multi pitch, but it also became ticking off “top 100 “ routes at Squamish. We did 8 of them this fall, and it rejuvenated my love for the place, even with its growing pains, Squamish is still an incredible venue.
Sunblessed + Enlightenment 10b SB is very fun, enlightenment scary however
Blazing Saddles 10b wild!
Rutabaga 11a, possibly my favorite pitch in Squamish!
Index also came through with another run at Hell Bent for Glory in the heat, and a spank down on Free at last to flail on the Glass Eyed Tuna pitch that supposedly is 10d? not buying it, but great job on the new guide book fellas!
Even though I’m working a tough job currently, I feel compelled to grab that last bit of sun.
Now It is amazing to think about ice season coming! Wish I didn’t have to work all winter 😦
Updated! from Cascade climbers 9-23-17:
Nick Elson and I (Julian Stoddart) completed this traverse on August 29th, with no knowledge of Wayne and Jen having been there the day before attempting the same thing (though we did see some signs of recent travel along the way that had us wondering).
We left the truck at 4:45 in the morning and traversed to the south ridge of Labour Day Horn as per Don Searl’s report from 2006. Kept the rope in the bag with a few moves of 5th here and there until the descent from Slesse’s Third Peak. Made a few raps down to the 3rd/South Peak notch, from near the plane wreckage site.
Ascending and Descending the South Peak was our crux. We were likely “off route” on ascent and ended up simul climbing some mid 5th on quite bad rock, In retrospect we’d have been better off staying closer to the crest where the rock was cleaner (we were slightly West).
A few raps from the south peak (again would have been better to stay right on the crest) brought us to the base of the main summit. A quick traverse had us on the regular descent route, which we climbed quickly to tag Slesse proper, passing Kevin McLane and partner who were descending from the NEB.
The usual crossover descent slog was straight-forward and we made it back to the truck before dark, after a very satisfying 15 hours on the move.”
Me : Not sure if this effort is the first ascent? Who cares much anyways, Cheers to them!! So fast!!
Regular blog post from Jenn and my efforts, just days before their triumphant ascent:
Short version: Amazing lady helps old climber mans dream come true. We set off over a 3 day weekend to climb/traverse 5 of the 6 major peaks in the Slesse Range of Southern B.C Canada.
-August 26 Wayne W, and Jenn C. did approach, and climb Labor Day Buttress, aka, the NE Buttress of “Peak 6 (6,800+’)”300m, 5.4. Bivouac on summit. Ref: Beckey Casc. vol.3 pg, 177
-August 27 Rappel “Peak 6” ascend “Peak 5, aka Station D”, 180m 5.7. Rappel, then climb “Peak 4”, South Ridge , low 5th. Difficult rappels off “4”, then ascend “Peak 3”, aka “Southeast Peak 7,100” , 100m 5.7+. The site of the 1956 air disaster.
Difficult rappels off “3”, then bypass “Peak 2, aka South Peak” on the west face, then Climb SW Face Mt Slesse 200m, 5.6, Bivouac on Summit.
-August 28, Rappel Slesse, continue to Crossover descent back to car.
Long Version: I first saw it coming down from Nesakwatch spire weeks before, Why hadn’t someone done the Selesse Traverse?? I was to find out it was a rather brutal and long affair, complete with moss, loose rock and more black lichen than you can fit in your eyes. It was also a very fun and rewarding outing as you make your way across a spectacular ridge line that culminates in the mighty Mt Slesse itself.
I usually put more research into my projects. If I had, I would have found out that we were not the first to have a look at this… Don Searl tr, Slesse SE Divide-partial traverse. I also would have had an idea of the names of the different peaks. It would have been handy to have grabbed the correct beta pages my partner copied for our outing too. With all the makings of a fine epic, we left Seattle at 5am to make a 3 day run of it-> starting with the seldom visited Labor Day Buttress on Labor Day Horn( aka Peak 6). It felt like a 6 pitch 5.7. It went well in spite of the slipperiest heather I have ever been on. Jenn and I climbed the 1000′ route to the summit just as sun set. It was a most beautiful bivy as can be had in the Cascades. The next day’s goal was to get all the way across -the mile long ridgeline- over 5 more peaks (all involving rappels)-to the top of Slesse itself. It would not be an easy day
Peak 5 put up a good fight on the face just right of its south ridge (4p, 5.7). There was a particularly memorable hand crack. Several raps and a long hike to get over to peak 4. It was the least fun summit, and the way down the other side was terrifying. Think sketchy rapps on large loose blocks, chockstones and the like. Even with the first set of trauma raps behind us, the traverse gets more intense as you go.Peak 3 had difficult route finding and a summit that can hardly be touched. It quickly becomes obvious that this is where the airline crash took place. This awful site was eerie, especially when we were again struggling to find good anchors to head down on. On a memorable hanging station made of a single sling, I had to remove a toothpaste tube from the crack behind to rig that single sling. No back-up, and I am not proud of that, though it was bomber. Walking and rapping by huge chunks of metal was one thing, but there were shoes underwear, seatbelts and other personal effects. I can tell you the airplane was yellow, and it was so close to clearing the saddle, that it blew debris over to the other side of the mountain.
We were very happy to make it to the saddle before the peak 2 Aka: South Peak of Slesse), but we were so very tired from the 2 long days and concerned for our committed position of having to get to the top of Slesse itself for retreat. It was after a long soul search that we elected to go around p2 for expediency as it would have taken many more hours to get up and down that one. As it was, we got to the top of Slesse an hour before dark. We relished our new camp and its relative safety on this incredible mountaintop.
All that was left to do was again rappel and down climb forever, then get over the long, long, long Crossover descent and get back to the truck the next day. Special thanks to Bree and Russ for the use of the truck, Jenn for being a trusting and loving soul, and Drew for setting the history straight.
So this amazing project appears to still be up for grabs. Will future aspirants overcome the dangers and difficulties in fine style? I sure hope so. I can’t wait to read the report!
Weather plays such a huge role in climbing and making plans. We were rained out our alpine plan, but Squamish serves one heck of a plan B !! If you only do 7 pitches there I recommend:
8-19,20-17 Squamish 8p to 11a, w/Jenn
Rutabaga 2p 11a, Rutabaga especially is spectacular.
All but 1 are top 100 routes according to the 2012 guide, and a damn good time!
a few days later Lane and I did my second go at Hell Bent for Glory in hot conditions. I led all but the 1st pitch this time. Once again the weather was an issue turning us both into sweaty, exhausted, and satisfied people. Such an amazing route, sustained and takes much energy. Fixed lines no longer allow for quick descent, use your 70 to get down and beware of leaving gear at a belay as some pitches traverse a bit.
Last weekend sent Lane, Doug, and I to the Canada to have a go at an obscure, yet outstanding climb high in the Cascade Range of British Columbia. It was Lanes idea to explore this area that none of us had been to prior, and what fun it was doing Dairyland in what started out to be soggy conditions. We spent 5 hours Saturday going up the 4k+’ vertical approach(ugh), and enjoyed the climb on a brisk Sunday. The climb starts off great, then has a blah pitch. Once that section is over, the crux, and last pitches are quite spectacular. You and your partner WILL be doing the rock, paper, scissors thing for the $ pitch! The whole package of being up in the mountains, good climbing and great friends embody the very reasons I pursue such a strenuous and risky sport. It’s great to be so excited about it even after 40+ years of climbing. It is however strange to run low on quality routes on my (local)to-do list, but fun to explore the unheralded and seldom visited routes!
Special thanks to Doug for providing the SUV for the drive that ended on a pretty rough road. Additional beta in Blake’s new book Cascade Rock.
click photos to enlarge or else they will stay small. forever.