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Mount Dag in B.C. 5.11d Big Wall Repeated

Mount Dag has a nearly 1,000-metre north face with at least three big routes. One of those routes is the all-free 950-metre Riding Skinfaxi at 5.11d.

B.C. climbers Jasmin Caton and Cam Shute just made an ascent of the big grade VI wall. There’s no way to know how many ascents the route has had since the first ascent in 2002, but it’s not many. The pair climbed it at 5.11c C1.

A photo of Mt. Dag has lived on my desktop for two years, ever since I watched the sunset light up its north face from Mulvey Basin while on a climbing trip with my Dad. This 1000m face is hidden from view from most of the common vantage points into the Valhallas, just a quick glimpse of its dark and imposing upper reaches is possible as you drive between Winlaw and Slocan. • Over 3 days @camshute and I repeated "Riding Skinfaxi" VI 5.11, a masterpiece of a route put up by David Lussier and Alan Jones in 2002. We were very likely the second ascent of that route and one of a handful of parties who have climbed the face. It was a dream realized, and one of the most physically and mentally difficult climbs I have ever done. • The challenge of climbing this route was as much due to the logistics as the actual rock climbing. Access to its base is via steep, bushy and precipitous terrain, access to water is only possible very low on the route making for painfully thirsty conditions, and the climbing is both difficult with a heavy pack on and difficult to haul. • The route had sections of absolute brilliance. There was a significant amount of cleaning required to protect some of the climbing and we freed what we could and aided some too. • I'm still digesting the fact that I've completed this long standing goal. I'm marvelling in the raw beauty and climbing challenge that exists a mere stones throw from my home, and feeling gratitude for a solid climbing partner, good weather and a safe return from this wild adventure.

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Mount Dag is a rocky peak in the Valhalla range in B.C.’s interior. The mountain has a number of sub-peaks, including Little Dag and Batwing. The traverse of Mount Nott, Batwing, Little Dag and Dag is a Kootenay classic.

The first ascent of Riding Skinfaxi was by David Lussier and Alan Jones in August 15 years ago. Lussier noted in his 2003 article in the Canadian Alpine Journal that there were no pin scars or gear on the route when they tried it, but that John Roskelly recalled a possible attempt back in the day.

Lussier noted in his article that, “It’s a sheer, aesthetic alpine big wall. As the saying goes, the rock here is gneiss, but don’t take it for granite.”

And that the wall is divided into three parts, with an easier start that led to a broken mid-section and ended in 12 pitches of steep climbing on splitter rock.

The other two routes on the north face of Dag are Ankles As Far As the Eye Can See VI 5.11 A1 and Ankles Me Boy VI 5.9 A2, both climbed in 2000.

Approximate line of Riding Skinfaxi VI 5.11d

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