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Just a Nibble is Hard New 500-metre Rockies Alpine Climb

Brette Harrington and Dylan Cunningham's Just a Nibble M6R 5.10 WI5 climbs the northeast face of Mount Niblock

The Canadian Rockies alpine have hundreds of classic alpine climbs, but there are still ranges, walls and peaks that are relatively unexplored and hold hard new climbs.

This week, Brette Harrington and Dylan Cunningham made the first ascent of a steep line on the previously unclimbed northeast face of Mount Niblock near Lake Louise. Their new 14-pitch alpine climb is called Just a NIbble M6R 5.10 WI5 500m.

Harrington said it has, “Challenging ice and mixed pitches lead to even more psychological rock and mixed pitches through the upper headwalls.” Cunningham, a ski guide who bagged the third descent of the north face of Mount Robson a few years ago, took on one of the harder pitches. “Dylan lead one of the most impressive mixed pitches I have ever belayed— finding incipient gear placements while climbing overhanging bouldery terrain,” said Harringtons.

Their route ends at the east ridge and does not continue to the summit. In the Rockies, an alpine climb is considered complete at the end of the technical difficulties. The Kruk/Walsh on the Emperor Face ended at the Emperor Ridge, as did The Stump/Logan, which was the first route up the famous Mount Robson face.

The mountain was named in 1904 after John Niblock, a superintendent with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Niblock was an early promoter of tourism in the Rockies and influenced the naming of some of the CPR stops in Western Canada. There’s  a popular scramble to the summit in the summer.

Harrington is no stranger to bold alpine climbs, back in February 2015 she made the first free-solo of Chiaro di Luna V 5.11a on Aguja Saint Exupery, 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. This winter, she made the first ski descents of a handfull of commiting lines, including the first of Gold Card Couloir M4+ WI4 C0 60° 800m.