Home > News

Western Neve M5 WI5R is New Bold Alpine Climb in B.C.

It's one of the most difficult big mixed routes to be established in Canada this winter

Photo by: Ian Welsted

Rocky Mountain climbers Alik Berg and Ian Welsted have made the first ascent of an 800-metre ice climb on the northwest face of Mount Vaux. The new Western Neve climbs pitch-after-pitch of near-perfect névé at M5 WI5R.

“Craig McGee told me they had flown by it and described it as a WI5 pillar pouring right off the top of the ridge,” said Welsted, an alpine guide based out of Golden. “Fortunately it wasn’t that steep at the top, and only vertical for a few short stints, as there was a distinct lack of good screws to be had. What it did have was the best neve climbing I have ever experienced in the Rockies. Maybe because it is further west than most of the Rockies, we found single swing sticks in both thin ice (often between five and 10 centimetres) and neve.”

Welsted noted that the approach is difficult, but that the persistent will be rewarded with many pitches of engaging ice climbing. The upper 250 metres of the route is visible from the Finn Creek pull out on the Trans-Canada Highway. Approach up Finn Creek. for around four hours to idyllic bivy sites at treeline below the route. For gear, they brought a single set cams to #2, nuts, good selection of pins, 12 screws including 10 cm or shorter and 70-metre ropes.

The pitches go at M4, WI3+, M5 WI4+, WI3+, M3 WI3, WI5R for 180 metres, WI4 for 100 metres to the top. The descent takes 12 70-metre raps. Both Berg and Welsted are going on alpine expeditions this year to two of the world’s most famous peaks. Details later.

Lead photo: Ian Welsted