Home > Profiles

Five Years Ago: Skiers Find Bold Line on South Goodsir

Two Rockies locals climbed and skied this big B.C. line

On April 7, 2015, we reported that Ian Button and Trevor Sexsmith ventured to the remote South Goodsir 3,562 metres and opened a new descent. They found stable spring conditions and noted a number of possibly unskied lines,

Button had opened a number of new ski lines over the years and was no stranger to the topography of the Rockies. While he never called himself a “climber,” he’d made countless ascents of dozens of Western Canada peaks, often by new winter routes and solo, before this mission.

Button and Sexsmith had been spending their 2014/15 season finding new lines and Goodsir was one of their biggest and most impressive of the year.

Just over one year after Goodsir, Sexsmith died while skiing in the “death trap” near Mount Victoria above Lake Louise. Read about Sexsmith’s skiing accomplishments here.

Button and Sexsmith approached South Goodsir in a whiteout and awoke to 20 cms of fresh powder at 2,500 metres. They skied the northwest face from 3,450 metres on a 55-degree slope after a bivy at 2,100 metres. There was about 50 centimetres of powder spines down the face.

There’s no way to say if it was a first descent because that area of the Rockies has a history of bold skiers who fly under the radar. There’s no record of a descent in the Canadian Alpine Journal or on the internet and after we published the first report, no one reported having skied the line.

Ian Button heading up the southwest face of South Goodsir. Photo Trevor Sexsmith
Ian Button heading up the northwest face of South Goodsir. Photo Trevor Sexsmith

Goodsir Climbs

The South Goodsir’s Southwest Ridge is a popular summer alpine route that was first climbed in 1903. The South Goodsir’s north side has been climbed twice.

Once by Kevin Doyle and David Cheesmond up the north face proper in 1983. They climbed alpine style without bivy gear and the remote route, which is one of the lines in The Bold and Cold, has never been repeated. It’s a bold route that was graded 5.7, but has since been re-graded by Doyle at around 5.9.

The other route was climbed by Don Vockeroth and party in the 1960s and follows and obvious ramp up left under the face and follows the northeast ridge to the summit.

The north side of the Goodsirs: A-1960s Route 5.7 IV / B-Cheesmond-Doyle 5.9 V / C-The unclimbed north face of the Middle Goodsir / D-The unclimbed north face of the North Goodir / The peaks have been traversed and it goes at 5.5 IV. The North and South Goodsir have summer routes from the south.