Three Squamish-based senders have climbed a new big route on the Rockies’ Mount Louis.
Mount Louis is an iconic peak near the town of Banff and is part of the Sawback Range. The first ascent was nearly 100 years ago and despite what some might think, it is hardly climbed out.
On July 19 and 20, Paul McSorley, Tony McLane and Jason Ammerlaan climbed a new 600-metre route they called Bucking Horse Rider 5.11 A0.
McSorley and team brought a double set of cams from micro to number fours and nuts. They approached the route on the 19th and climbed the lower half before bivying below the headwall. “The next morning we managed three more pitches before getting hit by a gripping thunderstorm which we weathered under a tarp,” said McSorley.
“The next few pitches took us a while with two more pauses for rain. McLane led the crux pitch (his birthday gift) and had to hang a couple times at the top to manage the pump.
“We connected to the Medieval Alleyway [on Homage to the Spider] a few pitches later via a squeeze chimney that will be challenging for the rotund and those wearing backpacks.
“From the link with Homage we took it to the summit and descended the standard raps. We left one pin in situ at the start of the runout on pitch four.”
The route climbs an obvious corner that makes up the opposite side of the large “flake” where the famous 1980’s route Homage to the Spider 5.10 goes up. The “flake” is a bedding plane, as the Sawback Range’s peaks are ancient horizontal seabed layers that are now vertical. Where the bedding planes separate are cracks and chimneys and the most obvious are along “Homage to the Spider” plane.
From the start of Homage to the Spider, Mount Louis drops into the Fifi Valley north of the peak, where an extra large cliff band is exposed.
Bucking Horse Rider climbs the left slabs of the large cliff bands up moderate ground to the base of the bedding plane’s north dihedral system.
The large overhanging face right of Bucking Horse Rider resembles the famous route in Spain called Orbayu 5.14. Above the steep wall are more potential routes.
The hardest route on Mount Louis, currently The Shining 5.13c, might yet be discovered on its north side. Not to mention the moderate routes that can be accessed from the start of Bucking Horse Rider.
Bucking Horse Rider 5.11 600 metres
Pitch one: 30 m 5.8 Climb an easy right slanting ramp then go straight up a groove to a stance below a short step to a double corner.
Pitch two: 50 m 5.7 Climb the short step and short double corner above to easy ground, scramble higher to find anchorage. Scramble up to a small cave then left to a bivi at the base of the headwall (ca. 100 m)
Pitch three: 40 m 5.7 Begin 25 m right of the bivi. Start up slabs into a watercourse and turn the steep bit on the right. Move up left to a good belay ledge.
Pitch four: 30 m 5.8R Climb up easy ground to a pin just left of the wet corners/overlaps. Tack up good face climbing and step back right where the difficulties ease. Up right then back left to belay at the start of the corner.
Pitch five: 60 m 5.9 Up the corner and place two number four cams.
Pitch six: 30 m 5.9 Up the corner.
Pitch seven: 30 m 5.10a More corner work.
Pitch eigth: 35 m 5.11 AO Continuous corner, lots of fingers. Climbed clean this will be sustained at 5.11.
Pitch nine: 25 m 5.11a More good corner action.
Pitch 10: 40 m 5.8 Climb just left of the corner (to avoid loose blocks) then traverse back to it and squeeze/tunnel to gain a more comfortable stance in the center of the Medieval Alleyway. Continue as for Homage to the Spider
Nearly 100 years after the first ascent of Mount Louis, big new routes continue to be climbed. If you’re looking for a new-routing adventure, look no farther than the north face of this famous mountain.