Tony McLane has made the first solo ascent of the north face of Mount Geikie in the Canadian Rockies. This is one of the boldest ascents of the year in Canada.
He followed the line of The Lowe/Hannibal up 750 metres of quartzite to 450 metres of mixed climbing to the oldest route up the face. He climbed it using a mix of free and aid climbing techniques this summer.
George Lowe and Dean Hannibal first climbed McLane’s chosen route in August 1979 at VI 5.9 A2. It was freed by Steve Holeczi and Mike Verwey in 2006 at 5.11a.
McLane’s new variation crossed from The Lowe/Hannibal and finished on the first route up the wall, which was frist climbed in 1967 by Royal Robbins and John Hudson.
McLane is the first climber to repeat the upper pitches of The Hudson/Robbins. He did not use any protection to help him move up and free climbed everything except for a tension traverse.
In a story for the American Alpine Journal here, McLane said: “The next section passed with less effort and brought an end to the real difficulties. I swapped back to boots and scrambled through a few hundred feet of sandy ledges strewn with running water and patches of snow.
“At this point, the remaining daylight looked favorable, but I had already covered 900 m and fatigue was building noticeably. I started to become concerned that I might make a weakness-induced mistake.”
The route is one of the 25 climbs in the book The Bold and Cold.
Mount Geikie is a 3,298-metre peak in the Tonquin Valley near Jasper. It’s about 30 kilometres from the closest road.
After their first ascent of the wall, Hudson wrote: “That night we camped at Moat Lake, hoping to start the climb the next day. However, after a late start, indecision over the weather and indecision over where to start the route, we spent the next night on a boulder near the base of the face.
“After much discussion we had decided to climb a prominent buttress which forms the left (east) side of the face. This route looked safer than a route directly up the center, and though perhaps a rationalization of this fact, looked more aesthetic as well.”
For a topo of all known routes on the wall see here.