Brette Harrington Adds to List of Bow Range Alpine Solos
And five memorabe free-solos from the mountains around Moriane Lake
The Bow Range runs west of the Bow River along the continental divide between Banff and Lake Louise and includes mountains like Temple, Victoria, Babel and Haddo.
Top alpinist Brette Harrington recently soloed the Northeast Face of Haddo Peak, a big alpine wall that goes at IV 5.8, in a day. While the climbing isn’t technically difficult, the rock quality ranges from chossy to a nearly solid and requires extremely careful climbing.
Harrington is no stranger to bold free-solos, back in February 2015, she made the first free-solo of Chiaro di Luna V 5.11a on Aguja Saint Exupery, Patagonia. Fellow free-soloist, the late Austin Howell said of the climb: “This is hands down one of the coolest free-solos ever, and is notable because it’s one of the few free-solos that has been done on big mountains in Patagonia.”
In the Rockies, Harrington has established a number of hard routes in the past few years, such as Aurorophobia 5.13+ in the Wiaparous River Valley with Marc-André Leclerc, Life Compass IV 5.10 M4+ on Mount Blane with Rose Pearson, The Sound of Silence VI M8 WI5 on Mount Fay with Ines Papert and Luka Lindic, and The Hammer and the Dance VI 5.11X on Neptuak with Tony McLane.
Going up any big alpine route in the Rockies is best left to the pros because having many years and countless ascents of dangerous routes is necessary to navigate the complicated bands of ancient quartzite and limestone.
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I first went to solo the NE glacier of Haddo peak this Spring but turned around after I realized I had forgotten my sunglasses. I returned to Haddo yesterday for a different type of solo— this time on rock. I chose to climb the NE Face, at 5.8, 475m. I carried along a very simple hikers pack with food, water, and my rock shoes of course. On the approach I passed through the golden larch forests and stopped to snap some scenic photos and chat with a few early morning hikers on their way up to fairview mountain. I encountered very choosy quartzite on the lower wall that required exceptional care so as not to pull off any lose blocks. Tiered roofs of limestone and corners were the highlight of the climb as the exposure dropped below me. I decended down to Paradise valley and hiked all the way back to Lake Louise. The weather here in the Rockies is getting cool now, so hopefully my next mountain mission will be one with snow again 🙂 @thenorthface @thenorthface_climb @mammutna @trailbutter @lasportivana @julboeyewearna #lakelouise #alpineclimbing #climbing
Five Noteworthy Bow Range Solos
The Greenwood/Locke V 5.10 on Temple: First free-solo by Tim Pochay in 1989
The Greenwood/Jones V 5.10 on Temple: Sub-five-hour free-solo car to summit by Jonny Simms
The Sphinx Face V 5.9 on Temple: Free-solo by Cian Brinker in running shoes in 2014
Flying Buttress IV 5.8 on Deltaform: Free-solo by Marc-Andre Leclerc in 2017
Gimme Shelter VI WI6 on Quadra: Free-solo by Ryan Richardson in 2019
There have been countless free-solos up the big walls of the Bow Range, many of which will never be known. These five are just a select few of the known free-solos up the dangerous and storied walls of this range.