During one of the best weather windows in years, the alpine duo of Jon Walsh and Josh Wharton have made the second ascent of the North Pillar of the North Twin, one of the most awed, spoken about and well known routes in North America. It was first climbed in 1985 by Dave Cheesmond and Barry Blanchard. This is the fifth ascent of the face and the fourth in summer.
Walsh and Wharton spent four days car to car to complete the North Pillar. The weather was perfect, “We only saw one cloud,” said Walsh who added, “1985 5.10d is more like 2013 5.11b, we aided a thin seam on the final pitch, we free climbed the rest.” Wharton who had only climbed in the Rockies in winter (Emperor Face, Wild Thing, Greenwood/Locke) said, “I have climbed lots of routes that have a bigger bark than bite, but this route lived up to its reputation.” Wharton left a food stash in the Mount Alberta Hut in 2011, it remained intact until a few weeks ago, “Our stash was gone! We only had 5,000 calories between the two of us for the climb, barely enough.” The crux pitch was a chimney on the head wall that Wharton led. “The headwall was impressive, fourteen big pitches before the mixed climbing up the ridge,” Walsh said, “we were on the original route most of the way, Kruk and I were off route for most of the headwall on our attempt, we never found their headwall bivi from the first ascent, maybe it fell off, we found one piton about halfway up the headwall.” The evening they returned Blanchard met them for a pint and they shard stories about the climb. Dave Cheesmond passed away on Mt. Logan, on the Hummingbird Ridge, during the late 80’s, so Blanchard was the only living climber who had climbed the route.
Other ascents of the face: George Lowe and Chris Jones in 1974. Tim Friesen and Dave Cheesmond in the early 80’s (the attempted the Lowe/Jones, but it was to wet so they traversed left and up mixed ground naming it Traverse of the Chickens, few know of this route.) Barry Blanchard and Dave Cheesmond in 1985. Steve House and Marko Prezelj in 2004 via the Lowe/Jones with some mixed variations. The North Ridge was climbed in 1965 by Abrons and gang and repeated in 2012 by Ian Welsted and Brandon Pullan. There have now been seven ascents of Twins Tower via the Black Hole (the large valley beneath the North Face.)
“In one of the more remote valleys of the sub-arctic rain forest called the Canadian Rockies there is a mountain wall which acts like a strong drug on the mind of the observer. So dark, sheer, and gloomy is the North Face of North Twin, like a bad dream, I shall say very little about it.” – Henry L. Abrons AAJ 1966
“There was a clear sense that it had some meaning for a future generation, but what it was I could not say.” – Chris Jones, Ascent 1975/76
“This is still a remote mountain and possibly the most serious limestone face in North America. A decade ago the Jones/Lowe route on the face was the hardest climb in the Rockies – it still has not had a second ascent. When George and Chris walked in here they were looking for adventure. They found theirs – we were here to find ours.” -Dave Cheesmond, Ten Years After
North Twin by Barry Blanchard: http://www.barryblanchard.ca/northtwin
Jon Walsh Blog on earlier attempt: http://alpinestyle.ca/2011/09/16/twins_tower_9112011_attempt_to_climb_the_north_face
Jon Walsh on successful ascent: http://www.alpinestyle.ca/