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New Route on Emperor Face is Running in the Shadows

Ethan Berman and Uisdean Hawthorn reported great conditions on the north side of Mount Robson

Photo by: Ethan Berman of Uisdean Hawthorn

Ethan Berman and Uisdean Hawthorn have climbed a new route on the famous Emperor Face on Mount Robson in B.C. At 3,954 metres, it’s the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

Their new 2,000-metre route is called Running in the Shadows and goes at VI AI5 M6.

“We climbed the whole face in 19 hours from the lake,” said Berman. “We bived on the rirdge and then continued to summit, bivied again on summit and then decended. It was really wild and the conditions were amazing.”

Alpinists Berman and Hawthorn are no strangers to the Rockies and have been at the cutting-edge of hard Canadian mountain ascents over the past few years.

“On a cool historical note, we followed the original 1974 attempt line through the Jaws, which was subsequently followed by Walsh and Kruk, before heading up and right into a new gully system 14-ish pitches to the Emperor Ridge.”

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A truly satisfying experience last week climbing a new route on the Emperor Face of Mount Robson with Ethan Burman.  It rained on the walk into Berg lake and stayed cloudy the evening before we started climbing. We climbed the face to the ridge in a long 19 hour day, by the time we made a bivi platform and cooked food we had been awake for 23 hours.  The next day to the summit was harder than expected as the visibility was so poor. We pulled onto the summit after 12 hours of climbing, amazingly the top 10m of the mountain above the cloud and we got to see the last glimpse of red in the west. We bivied on the summit and descended the next day. This was my first visit to Mount Robson and I got my first full view of the Mountain as we drove away. The Chain by Fleetwood Mac playing full blast in the truck as I stuck my head out of the window to look back skywards at the mountain towering above the road. I turned back around as the speakers blasted "Chain keep us together, running in the shadow" Ethan and I danced and sang like crazy in our seats as the mountain drifted away in the mirror.  Running in the Shadow VI AI5 M6 2000m  If anyone wants to read a great piece of writing about Mount Robson they should read Marc Andre Leclerc article on @alpinistmag called A Visit with The Emperor We have both re-read it since and feel lucky to have had a very similar experience, this quote below sums it up well.  "I'm happy to say that my visit with the Emperor was a truly special experience. At first I was intimidated by his strong aura, but in the end we became friends and the King generously shared his wealth, leaving me a much richer person."  @mountainequipment @scarpa_uk @tisoonline @edelweiss_connection

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In 1974, Pat Callis and Jim Kanzler made the first significant attempt at the then-unclimbed Emperor Face, climbing high on the face through a feature they called the “Jaws.”

Callis recalled their attempt in the American Alpine Journal, “It was a significant mountaineering experience at the time, involving four bivies, but we did not write it up because we did not go to the summit. We were escaping, having misjudged the nature of the upper wall as being ice. The lower part was great ice, and we did half the face in one and a half days but did not take enough rock gear and food for the rest of it.

“Ours was the first serious attempt, and it was in was in 1974, following two earlier explorations by me with Hank Abrons in ‘72 and Kanzler in ‘73. Also, we invited Jeff Lowe and Mike Weiss to go on another try in ‘75, but after hanging out at the base waiting for weather, we had to give it up.

“Kanzler deserves recognition for realizing the feasibility of the line through the Jaws in ‘74 and talking me into doing it. Although it was the line Abrons and I picked in ‘72, by ‘74 I was thinking of a more conservative route that went left up the snow ramp at the bottom before going directly up.”

Uisdean Hawthorn on the Emperor Face Photo Ethan Berman

Emperor Face Climbed

In 1978, Jamie Logan and Mugs Stump made the first ascent of the Emperor Face. The second ascent of the face was up a new route by Dave Cheesmond and Tony Dick in 1981. It wasn’t climbed again until 2002 by Barry Blanchard, Philippe Pellet and Eric Dumerac via their new route Infinite Patience.

Steve House and Colin Haley climbed a variation to the Logan/Stump line in May 2007. Jon Walsh and Jason Kruk climbed new ground in June 2010. Jon Walsh returned with Josh Wharton in May 2012 and made the first one day ascent of the face via Infinite Patience.

Then Raphael Slawinski and Jay Mills climbed it in September 2012 via Infinite Patience. In April 2016, Marc-Andre Leclerc made the first solo ascent of the Emperor Face up Infinite Patience. The last known ascent of the face before this year was by Maarten Van Haeren and Jas Fauteux via Infinite Patience in September 2018.

There has been many other attempts over the years.

Uisdean Hawthorn on Running in the Shadows Photo Ethan Berman


Lead photo: Ethan Berman of Uisdean Hawthorn