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Achilles Spire is a Big 5.8 Rockies Route You Should Climb

Achilles Spire was established in 2012 and is becoming a classic long Rockies route. It is one of the finer 13-pitch bolted 5.8s in Alberta.

Achilles Spire has 300 metres of relatively easy climbing. It was established by Eric Dumerac, Sid Cupido and Chad Casey on September 7, 2012. The recommended rack is a 60-metre rope, 10 draws, mountain boots or rock shoes and a headlamp. It takes between eight and 12 hours car to car.

The line climbs a dolomite tower on Mount Andromache. There is still some loose rock on ledges that could be knocked off. For the most part the rock is solid. The route is entirely bolted. The route is set up for 30-metre rappels. The summit provides excellent views of the Rockies central group.

Achilles Heel
Achilles Spire

-Park in the pull out on the west side of HWY 93 north in front of Hector Creek.  (Hector Lake 82N9 UTM: 479/172) About 20 minutes north of Lake Louise.
-Cross the road and on the right (south) side of the drainage pick up the trail for Mount Hector. Follow the easy trail through the forest, up the left side of an avalanche bowl to the top of the waterfall, about an hour.
-Cross to the other side of the creek (South side) at the top of the waterfall and make your way to the little hanging valley between Mount Andromache and Little Hector. Mount Hector seen behind Little H. Looking towards the North, spot the towers connected to Mount Andromache. Follow cairns towards the two tiered tree island, thence several cairns and goat trails will lead one up and left via a series of benches. The cairns will take you scrambling up an easy gully gaining bigger upper benches.
-Atop these upper benches, cross left (north west) across a bowl (big boulder) and follow the steps of a dry watercourse within the basin to gain the base of the towers. Follow the base of the towers until in the farthest left bowl (do not keep go around highway side).

Warning: It is easy to mistaken the right hand tower as being Achilles Spire. Achilles Spire has a small crumbly tower to its left, a prominent very pointy tower to its right and narrowing drainages/chimney on each side of it. A large black roof near the right drainage/chimney is a good landmark for Achilles start, the central tower. Make your way up the basin to the base of Achilles Spire.

Start: Below and left of the big black roof with white rock below are smaller overlapping overhangs and a one bolt station at a small scruffed out ledge, two hours from the road.

Pitch one, five bolts, 20 m 5.5: From the station trend up and left to the first bolt, seven metres. Follow bolts to a left facing corner and up over a groove/roof/ to a station on the left under a small dirt ledge.

Pitch two, five bolts, 45 m 5.4: Climb straight up, past a left facing feature to the big ledge above.  Continue past the ring-bolt rap station trending up and right to the next ledge and station.

Pitch three, seven bolts, 40 m 5.6: Climb the steep wall up and right gaining an arete. continuing up a groove. Again, pass a rappel station and up to another big ledge with a 2 bolt anchor.

Pitch four, four bolts, 20 m 5.6: Locate the first hard to see bolt up and right of the station in a black band of rock. Overcome the steep bit and keep trending up and right to a large ledge. Station is under the roof.

Pitch five, four bolts, 20 m A0 or 5.6 or 5.8: Climb up and left of the station past two bolts. At the third bolt traverse horizontally left past another bolt and climb up to a ledge and small overhang. Climb straight up for one 5.8 move, pull on the draw at A0 or risk the pendulum easily climbing off to the right of the bolt at 5.6 (recommended).  Climb up to the next ledge and continue to a station.

Pitch six, two bolts, 15 m 5.4: Climb the little rib just left of  bolt and up to a ridge and station found on the right hand side just below the ridge top.

Pitch seven, third class, 70 m: Walk the ridge to the left until the main buttress, go around it on the left to the base of a beautiful wall and bolt station facing the highway.

Pitch eight, six bolts, 28 m 5.7: Climb up and left, then straight up to an alcove atop this perfect vertical rock wall.

Pitch nine, four bolts, 20 m 5.6: Climb up the short chimney gaining a ledge and station on the right.

Pitch 10, eight bolts, 26 m 5.7/5.8: The crux of the route and one of the best pitches. Follow the groove, climbing the central wall with cracks on either side. Side step a roof by traversing left and come back right of the crack to a semi-hanging belay on the right.

Pitch 11, six bolts, 28 m 5.6: Angle up the left groove following bolts to a ledge and station.

Pitch 12, four bolts, 20 m 5.5: Leave the station and easily scramble up for 10 metres or so to another ledge at the base of the wall. Climb up great rock on the arete to a ledge and station.

Pitch 13, five bolts, 45 m  5.5: Move up and left around the arete climbing up a small slab and past ledges and a rappel station to another station on the summit. Descent: Rappel the route.