There are a number of strong climbers currently based in the Canadian Rockies awaiting for good conditions to head up steep alpine routes.

Last week, Tom Livingstone, Jon Walsh, Pete Hoang and Quentin Roberts made the only ascent in 2019 of Gimme Shelter VI WI6 on Mount Quadra. At the same time, Luka Lindic and Ines Papert were attempting routes in the Valley of the 10 Peaks near Moraine Lake close to Lake Louise.

Papert and Lindic tried a new route but found little ice, a lot of snow and quartzite rock that they said would be better for rock climbing than mixed climbing. They also attempted Quentin Roberts and Alik Berg’s route on Mount Tuzo called Hiding in Plain Sight M5 AI5, but found slopey ledges covered in powdery snow.

One of the most talked about routes this year is the East Face of Mount Fay, which rises above Consolation Lakes the same area where Gimme Shelter is found. The route was first climbed by Barry Blanchard, David Cheesmond and Carl Tobin in 1987 and has never been repeated.

The most recent trio to head into the Rockies alpine is Brette Harrington, Luka Lindic and Ines Papert. The strong trio’s chances will rely on good snow and ice conditions and weather. Time will tell if the stars align for another big ascent this season.

Read Blanchard’s story about Mount Fay in the Canadian Alpine Journal here.

Mount Fay by Carl Tobin in the American Alpine Journal: After gaining height quickly, at the top of the first snowfield we met a nearly vertical pitch of very thin ice. Barry did a fine job. I started the next pitch, mostly a vertical to overhanging pillar of water-ice. After flaming out, I belayed Barry past me and he finished the pitch in the dark. We coasted a way up the next snowfield and made a cave. Although the morning dawned clear, clouds were moving in. When we had got up the snowfield, we climbed more pitches of moderately difficult ice. It began to snow very heavily. While on a vertical pitch, an avalanche, possibly from a cornice high above, roared over us.

It missed me but struck Barry on the shoulder, which caused him great pain for the rest of the day. Not wanting to stay in such a place, we climbed fast to the top of the next snowfield. Here, we went up a chimney that offered difficult (5.8) mixed climbing. Barry dug a cave at the base of the chimney while Dave and I fixed rope in it. We were low on food and fuel. After our second night on the face, breakfast was simply a hot drink. We looked for a quick way to finish the face. Directly up was a headwall with lots of slow aid. We decided to traverse right, gain a large snowfield and try to exit out of its upper right side.

It was still snowing heavily. To reach the snowfield, we had to climb many pitches of delicate mixed traversing. Barry had to resort to aid for 80 feet at one point. It was starting to get dark as we reached the far edge of the snowfield. Barry did a superb job in the dark on the next pitch, but we still had at least one more difficult pitch before we could top out. Once more, we dug in. We used no fuel that night, saving it for a cup of hot water in the morning. Our only food was a two-ounce bag of Smarties. The next day we hurried to the top of Barry’s pitch and Dave led the final, mixed pitch to the top of the face. We were met by very high winds on the other side. We forgot all about going to the summit and began the long descent down, around and back to Lake Louise.

Barry Blanchard seconds on East Face of Fay Photo Dave Cheesmond

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