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Rarely Climbed Stanley Headwall Route Repeated

The Stanley Headwall was the focus of winter mixed new routing during the late-90s and many of the original Sean Isaac, Shawn Huisman and Dave Thomson routes see rare repeats because of their “old school” nature.

Alik Berg heading up some thin ice before the crux.  Photo Michelle Kadatz
Alik Berg heading up some thin ice before the crux pitch. Photo Michelle Kadatz

The Stanley Headwall in Kootenay National Park is one of the best multi-pitch ice and mixed climbing venues in the world.

In 2006, Dave Thomson and Sean Isaac established Dawn of the Dead M8+ WI6 140 metres and Rhumnusia M8 WI6 160 metres.

Interactive Stanley Headwall Topo

“I noticed that an ice dam had formed on top of Nemesis pushing the water flow left and forming a massive blue pillar pouring from the top of the cliff,” said Isaac. “It didn’t take much effort to talk Shawn Huisman into checking out this newly formed line.

“It took three days of work to place some bolts and anchors and clean some of the pitches but the effort was worth it. On the fourth day, we climbed Rhamnusia which involved five very unique pitches”

Pitch one is the 30-metre M7 Trad Pitch that climbs a steep left facing corner. Pitch two is the Stubby Pitch that climbs 30 metres of M5 WI5 up a smear on a slab. Pitch three is the fun Tunnel Pitch, at only M3 this 35-metre pitch is more of a full body work out as you climb up an ice mushroom tunnel. Pitch four is the M8 25-metre Loose Pitch that has a number of dangerously loose holds and ends behind a pillar. The final pitch is a 35-metre WI6 pillar that ends on top of the wall.

This route has had very few repeats over the last decade, but was recently climbed by Alik Berg and Michelle Kadatz.

Alik Berg on the final pillar after climbing the Loose Pitch M8 on Rhumnusia.  Photo Michelle Kadatz
Alik Berg on the final pillar after climbing the Loose Pitch M8 on Rhumnusia. Photo Michelle Kadatz

The Loose Pitch has been the stopper recently for other parties, but Berg wrote, “The rock and climbing does actually significantly improve as you get higher on this pitch. Only the first four or five bolts of climbing are really nasty.”

After the send, Isaac said, “So glad to see this one finally getting repeats. Brings back memories of good trad, thin ice, cool caves and of course, disgusting choss.”

With another month of winter in the Rockies and longer days, the Stanley Headwall will surely see more traffic.

Rhumnusia climbs the hanging dagger left of Nemisis' main flow. It continues down and left onto the smear of ice.  Photo Michelle Kadatz
Rhumnusia climbs the hanging dagger left of Nemisis’ main flow. It continues down and left onto the smear of ice. Photo Michelle Kadatz