As the year comes to an end, it’s a tradition here at Gripped to look back over the past 12 months at some of the new routes and epic sends.
From new moderate bouldering problems to mega alpine lines, there’s been a lot of memorable climbs from coast to coast to coast.
There were dozens of high-quality alpine routes climbed across Canada this year, below are four that made headlines.
Eye of the Storm
Over the past decade, Castle Mountain has become a popular early season peak for mixed rock and ice routes. The newest route is the 700-metre Eye of the Storm IV M6 WI5 by Ethan Berman and Maarten van Haeren.
Eye of the Storm was van Haeren’s second new route on the northern aspect of Storm. In 2015, he, Ian Welsted and Jay Mills made the first ascent of Canoeing to Cuba on the northeast face at IV M4 WI5. In the same year, Yamada Toshiyuki and Takeshi Tani made the first ascent of Kogarashi IV WI4 5.6.
Canmore Swingers Party
Canmore Swingers Party is a new 300-metre M6+R that climbs the north face of Mount Lawrence Grassi above Canmore. The wall has a number of routes, but Canmore Swingers Party follows one of the more striking up a buttress feature. The first winter route up the wall was in 2014 by David Lussier, Jay Mills and Ian Welsted up The Hole M6. Niall Hamill and Ryan Richardson made the first ascent of May 3, a few months after Hamill’s earlier attempt that ended with a 100-foot whipper and a broken scapula in Hamill’s back.
Canmore Swingers Party starts at the base of the wall on a M7 WI5 pitch that climbs into Tainted Love WI3 M9, which was first climbed by Juan Henriquez, Colin Simon and Raphael Slawinski in 2015. The first attempt up this part of the wall was 15 years ago by Sean Isaac and Rob Owens.
“It steers west away from the bolts into an attractive weakness,” said Hamill about the line he and Richardson followed. “A chimney/wide crack that splits the upper buttress and goes on all natural gear. The climbing is fairly sustained in the M6 to M6+ range, and in a few places, not easily protectable.
There are some fixed pins and a couple of wires left in-situ, all anchors are fixed for rappel. We rappelled the route but you can scramble and walk off of the backside, or into miners’ gully.”
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"Canmore Swingers Party" Lawrence Grassi North Face May 3, 2019 Niall Hamill, Ryan Richardson 300m M6+R At a Canmore swingers party you are sure to find cracks of all shapes and sizes. You are also likely to find swingers. When there is little ice to swing into, the swingers may gravitate towards limestone of varying quality. This is a variation to "Tainted Love" on the North Face of Lawrence Grassi, and shares the first two and a half pitches with this route. It then steers west away from the bolts into an attractive weakness, a chimney/wide crack that splits the upper buttress and goes on all natural gear. The climbing is fairly sustained in the M6 to 6+ range, and in a few places, not easily protectable. There are some fixed pins and a couple of wires left in-situ, all anchors are fixed for rappel. We rappelled the route but you can scramble and walk off of the backside, or into miners' gully. There is a direct start dagger that has been climbed at M7 Wi5. (4 bolts) Thank you to @canadianalpinetools for the bomber iron!
North Twin Traverse
The Peuterey Integral is the longest route in the alps with over 4,500 metres of climbing to the summit of Mont Blanc. For decades, climbers have looked at the rising traverse from the Athabasca River to the summit of the North Twin on the Columbia Icefield and wondered if it would be the Peuterey Integral of the Canadian Rockies.
Ian Welsted and Alik Berg spent five days making the first ascent of the route, which Welsted has called the Peuterey Integral of Choss. “After 700 ascents it will be as good as the Peuterey Ridge,” said local climber and historian Urs Kallen. The rock quality leaves much to be desired, but the position and location can’t be beat.
In his blog here, Welsted wrote about one col they traversed through between Twins Tower and Son of a Twin, “It truly is not that friendly a place to hang out, though now there is a nice bivi wall for the next party at the col. It is, after all, the Standhart col of the Rockies, as Alik pointed out we were camped next to the Cerro Torre of our range.”
Sound of Silence
The East Face of Mount Fay was first climbed in 1987 by Barry Blanchard, Dave Cheesmond and Carl Tobin, and until this spring had gone without a repeat. Brette Harrington, Ines Papert and Luka Lindic not only repeated the original line up the lower face, but added a wild and often-talked-about direct finish through the upper headwall.
They called their new route The Sound of Silence VI M8 WI5 in memory of Marc-Andre Leclerc, who Lindic first dreamed of climbing the wall with back in 2016. The East Face of Mount Fay rises above Consolation Lakes near Moraine Lake and the Valley of the 10 Peaks and The Sound of Silence is the only free route up the 1,100-metre face. The team brought only a single rack.
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Pretty rar to get such a step pitch on a huge face. Doing a first ascent is always a gift but also free climbing it, is the cream on top if the cookie. Great work @lindicluka putting the puzzle together on Mt. Fay East face. We named the Route ‘The sound of silence’ in memory to our late friend Marc Andre Leclerc. Link in bio . @arcteryx @blackdiamond @lowa.outdoor @julbo_eyewear @lyofood @edelweissropes_usa #celebratewild