Mount Colonel Foster is on Vancouver Island, B.C., At 2,135 metres it is the fourth highest peak on the island. 

In Jan. 1978, Joe Bajan and Ross Nichol made the first winter ascent of Foster’s 1,000-metre east face while making the first ascent of Direttissima, V, AI5. There have been many ascents of the route.

In February 2014, Vancouver Island alpinists Hunter Lee and Mike Shives climbed Direttissima for its first, and potentially, only ascent of the year.

In a recent correspondence with Gripped, Lee said, “With a flawless weather forecast for most of the Island, the weather window and underlying conditions to climb Vancouver Island’s crown jewel, Mt. Colonel Foster, couldn’t have been better. Initially Mike Shives and I were going to climb a new route on the back side of the mountain, or attempt a full summit traverse. Upon seeing the condition of the Colonel’s classic winter route, Direttissima, our climbing plans were set in motion. The first day of climbing lasted 18 hours, with difficulties reaching WI4. At 1 a.m. we found ourselves a tiny bivy cave 15 meters from the summit ridge, and settled in for a brew and rest. The next day we were greeted with stellar conditions once again, unlimited visibility and virtually no wind. After navigating a tricky mixed section above our bivy site the remaining climb to the summit presented itself, and soon afterwards we found ourselves standing upon Colonel Foster’s summit.”

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Direttissima is the highlighted route Photo Hunter Lee

"Mike leading the way to the first crux section of the route, we roped up at the lake but opted to run it out till we found difficulties." Photo Hunter Lee

“Mike leading the way to the first crux section of the route, we roped up at the lake but opted to run it out till we found difficulties.” Photo Hunter Lee

"After cruising up the lower snow field we slowed down and belayed 3 pitches of ice that felt like WI3+/WI4...here's Mike leading the second pitch."  Photo Hunter Lee

“After cruising up the lower snow field we slowed down and belayed 3 pitches of ice that felt like WI3+/WI4…here’s Mike leading the second pitch.” Photo Hunter Lee

"After dealing with the first crux section we transitioned to simul-climbing and found ourselves climbing a lot of WI2 ice and steep neve snow." Photo Hunter Lee

“After dealing with the first crux section we transitioned to simul-climbing and found ourselves climbing a lot of WI2 ice and steep neve snow.” Photo Hunter Lee

"The upper crux section of the route required 10+ pitches of climbing. I think we would have simul-climbed a few of them if we: weren't feeling the effects of such a long climb, and had visibility, as a significant portion was climbed at night." Photo Hunter Lee

“The upper crux section of the route required 10+ pitches of climbing. I think we would have simul-climbed a few of them if we: weren’t feeling the effects of such a long climb, and had visibility, as a significant portion was climbed at night.” Photo Hunter Lee

"This is what we felt was the crux of the climb, it's just beneath the ridge that leads to the summit. Our bivy rock cave was right beneath me here...Mike was lucky to land this pitch (as it would have taken me a long time to figure it out)-we swung leads the whole route, I think the next time I climb a long route like this I'll strongly suggest leading in blocks." Photo Hunter Lee

“This is what we felt was the crux of the climb, it’s just beneath the ridge that leads to the summit. Our bivy rock cave was right beneath me here…Mike was lucky to land this pitch (as it would have taken me a long time to figure it out)-we swung leads the whole route, I think the next time I climb a long route like this I’ll strongly suggest leading in blocks.” Photo Hunter Lee

"The view from atop Mt. Colonel Foster, Feb 8 2014." Photo Hunter Lee

“The view from atop Mt. Colonel Foster, Feb 8 2014.” Photo Hunter Lee

Source: Hunter Lee, Vancouver Island Climbing & Mountaineering, Wild Isle Guidebook

For more Vancouver Island alpine climbs this, 2014, season:

New route on Big Den

New route on Mount Rugged

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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1 Comment

  • King_Gimli says:

    Scott, child, and woods did not climb Direttissima.

    In jan 1985 they did the first winter ascent of Grand Central Couloir, the gully to the climbers left. I believe woods has climbed both lines again at a later date. There has been very few ascent of colonel foster in the winter. The long approach and very fussy conditions make it a difficult mtn in the winter