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Four Unclimbed Mountain Walls in the Canadian Rockies

Climbers have tried, but to date the tallest and steepest parts of these faces have yet to be breached

Photo by: John Scurlock

The Canadian Rockies have a lot of big walls and despite being close to the road and at a low elevation, there are still a number that are unclimbed. Many climbers know of the biggest climbed walls, such as the north face of the North Twin, the Emperor Face on Mount Robson and the north face of Mount Temple, but few know of the unclimbed faces.

Below are four of the biggest unclimbed walls in the Canadian Rockies.

The Middle Goodsir: In the 1970s, big-wall specialist Billy Davidson accumulated 200 bolts to aid up the middle of the Middle Goodsir. He wanted to spend 20 days on the wall, but could never find a partner. Since then, few climbers have showed interest in the 1,000-metre overhanging wall between the North and South Goodsir. The mountains are near Field, B.C. and the north faces are about 15 kilometres from the road. Of the three north walls, only the north face of the South Goodsir has been climbed and only once.

Middle Goodsir is second from the left. Photo Matt Brooks
Middle Goodsir is second from the left. Photo by Joe Brooks

Mount Stephen: If you have ever driven from Alberta into B.C., then you have driven below the northeast face of Mount Stephen. It’s an overhanging white wall of quartzitic rock on the east aspect of the peak, often referred to as the “Great Wall of China.” Over a decade ago, Dave Edgar and Dave Marra attempted the wall. Edgar was aiding on RURPs when one of failed and he fell. He injured his leg and was rescued by Parks Canada. Chris Brazeau and Jonny Simms later established The Accomplice VI 5.11, which climbs the right side of the wall to the upper ridge and avoids the steep central wall. Sonnie Trotter and Tommy Caldwell approached and started up the centre of the wall, but never returned.

The “Great Wall of China” on Mount Stephen. Photo by Jonny Simms

Whitehorn Mountain East Face: Whitehorn Mountain is 3,395 metres and is in northeastern B.C. near Mount Robson. While many of its moderate lines have been climbed, including the North Ridge and Northeast Glacier, the big east face has no route up it. A few climbers have attempted it in the past, but never made it to the upper headwall. This looks like a classic Rockies mixed wall that will surely be climbed one day.

East face of Whitehorn Mountain. Photo John Scurlock
East face of Whitehorn Mountain. Photo John by Scurlock

Mount Lyell North Face: The Lyell mountains are well-known for skiing and general mountaineering in the summer. There is a popular hut where climbers heading up one of the long ridges stay between ascents. Few people know that the north face of Mount Lyell is an unclimbed and esthetic alpine wall. In the 1980s, Dave Cheesmond went in for a look and made it to halfway, but never returned. Since then, no recorded attempts have been made.

North face of Mount Lyell. Photo John Scurlock
North face of Mount Lyell. Photo by John Scurlock
Lead photo: John Scurlock