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Huge 350-metre WI5+ Quebec Mixed Route Forms as Pure Ice

La Loutre was first climbed in the late 1970s over two days with a bivy behind an ice pillar

Photo by: Matt Brooks of La Loutre and La Pomme d'Or

Quebec has some big ice. Nearly every corner of the province has a classic route from one to six pitches and up to WI6+. North of Quebec City, in Hautes-gorges de la rivière Malbaie National Park is Mont De L’Equerre, famous for its nearly 400-metre ice and mixed routes.

La Pomme d’Or is a six-pitch WI5+, first climbed by Kurt Winkler and Jim Tierney in March 1980, famous for being one of Guy Lacelle’s favourite routes and bold free-solos. However, many climbers are unaware that other tall mixed lines have been established, such as La Ruée Vers l’Or by Jean-Francois Morin and Mathieu Peloquin in 2001.

To the left of La Pomme d’Or is a little-known rock climb called Redcoats Resurrection done by Paul Ross and John Porter in May 1972, that climbs the 455-metre buttress at 5.9 (rock climbing is currently not allowed in the park). Left of that is the mighty La Loutre M5+ WI5+ 350m, done by Claude Bérubé and Régis Richard with help of Jacques Lemay in 1977 over two days. They bivied behind the massive pillar near the top of the climb. It’s rarely repeated, but you can read a story about an ascent here.

This winter, La Loutre formed as a complete ice route from top to bottom, with a few rock moves near the start, and was climbed by Nathalie Fortin and Frédéric Maltais. They climbed 160 metres of new ice into the regular route and finishhed up the WI4, WI4+ and WI5+ final pitches. Fortin reported other climbers repeated it and were hoping to climb a new mixed formation up and left of La Loutre.

Nathalie Fortin on La Loutre Photo Frédéric Maltais
Lead photo: Matt Brooks of La Loutre and La Pomme d'Or