No one knows the ridges, faces and features on Mount Slesse more than Marc-Andre Leclerc and over the past few weeks, he has climbed a number of long and aesthetic alpine routes in the Slesse area. With Luka Lindic, they found Scottish-ish conditions in the area and did a “link-up” of the third and fourth peaks.
More recently, Leclerc soloed a potential new integral up the Southeast Couloir of Slesse and summited the South Summit. “Great moderate alpine route in quite good shape,” said Leclerc. “The first pitch is the crux with some scraping through thin crud, but easy (M4) After that, perfect snow and even some stoinker neve. The couloir is generally quite easy angled (50 degrees) but in a quite ambient setting. The upper crux, on the south face of the summit tower had some 5.8 rock where a few moves were made barehanded.”
Who can guess where this was taken? Looks Scottish, but it's on the 4th peak of Slesse. Conditions were interesting to say the least, and we were rapidly thwarted by a maelstrom of spindrift on the first objective. The 3rd and 4th peaks made for quick objectives after unsettled weather. The north cascades are really a unique and special place to climb in during winter. #arcteryx #lyofood #sharechilliwack
After Leclerc posted his climb on Facebook, legendary climber Don Serl commented that Leclerc might have done the first winter ascent of the South Summit. “When Fips Broda and John Dudra did the first winter ascent of Slesse (in 1955! think about THAT!), they climbed the big gully on the SW side of the South Summit, then followed the gully/ledge system that leads up and left across the western base of the South Summit towards the main peak,” wrote Serl. “They’d have passed by within a couple pitches of the top of the South Summit, but of course, that was not their objective.”
Serl continued and talked about his and Paul Piro’s second winter ascent of Slesse in January 1977 up the normal route. “We bivied just above ‘the knoll’ on the regular route,” wrote Serl. “Conditions were ideal and Kevin McLane and John Howard were bivied higher up the basin. Early the next morning, they started directly up the open gully towards the left end of the second ledge on the standard route, but John took a pretty long fall about a pitch up, and they came down.
“Paul and I followed pretty much the standard route, and arrived on top about sunset. Descending in the dark with the terrible headlamps which we had in those days seemed foolish, so we put on all out clothing, pulled our packs up over our lower bodies, and sat down in little snow pits on the east side of the actual summit to wait it out. the cold was intense (I recall -17C in Chilliwack that night), and we had to get up about every 20 to 30 minutes and stamp and flap around till we warmed up again a bit, then repeat. (Click to play the clip below)
Another great day in the North Cascades! I had a one day window to do something, and made a good call deciding to try to finish the previously incomplete SE couloir to the south summit of Slesse. Conditions were great and the views were splendid. Going car to car on Slesse in winter makes for a good leg burner too! #sharechilliwack #arcteryx #proclineboot
“Morning finally came, we warmed in the sun, and we rapped off and hiked out and at the bottom of the trail, there was Greg Yavorsky and Jim Sinclair, sitting under a tree, Jim with a smoke in his hand, waiting to see if we were gonna get down or if they should call out mountain rescue. True friends!”
Leclerc went on to note, “It’s worth mentioning that it’s not really a ‘new’ line. Just a newly complete winter line. This has been my standard downclimb off the peak now for the last couple years in summer, so I already knew the topography quite well. I descended the route with a half dozen 30-metre raps and mucho down climbing.” With winter settling back in on Canada, there might still be a number of big winter ascents in the mountains.