Canmore-based climbers Alik Berg and Quentin Roberts have made the first ascent of the big east face of Mount Forbes (3,612 m). Forbes is the seventh tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies and the tallest within Banff National Park.
It was named by James Hector in 1859 after Edward Forbes, Hector’s natural history professor at the University of Edinburgh during the mid-nineteenth century.
The east face had stood as one of the few unclimbed, and never attempted, faces of its grandeur in the Rockies. Berg and Roberts spent three days climbing a direct line up the wall.
Berg, one of Canada’s top alpine climbers, climbed a new route on Mount Outram with Maarten van Haeren in 2019 and scoped possible lines on Forbes.
During the same week, Uisdean Hawthorn and Ethan Berman made the first ascent of Running in the Shadows VI AI5 M6 on the Emperor Face on Mount Robson; and Jim Elzinga and Dylan Cunningham made the first ascent of The Anna Smith Memorial Route IV AI3 M4 on Cirrus Mountain.
In 1997, Jon Walsh and Ptor Sprinceniecks made the first ski descent of Forbes; Berg and Roberts used the same nine-hour-long 27-kilometre approach to below the north glacier.
“Less and less of those unclimbed faces around,” said Roberts, who once soloed the Grand Central Couloir V AI4 M6 on Mount Kitchener.
The two climbed in warmer-than-expected conditions with frozen features melting beneath them. The sustained climbing offered a system of simul-climb sections between sheltered belays.
A few days after climbing their new route, they repeated the classic Supercouloir on Mount Deltaform.