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Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 27, 2014 - 06:56pm PT
1st Ascent: Peter Arbic, Barry Blanchard and Ward Robinson. (VI,5.9,A3,W4) 1987.

2nd Ascent: Joe Josephson, Sean Dougerty and Grant Statham. April 1992.

3rd Ascent: Rob Owens and Mike Verwey. February, 2005.

4th Ascent: Jon Simms and Jon Walsh. November 2008: (1st Free Ascent)

5th Ascent: Dana Ruddy, Eamonn Walsh and Raphael Slawinski. February 2009. Completed in a 29 hour continuous push. (Direct Start)

6th Ascent: Josh Wharton and Chris Alstrin. May 2012. (1st one day ascent: climbed free)

7th Ascent: Joshua Lavigne and Marc-Andre Leclerc. November 2014.

MarkWestman

Trad climber
Talkeetna, Alaska
Dec 27, 2014 - 08:39pm PT
Should read "Josh" Lavigne on #8.

Got halfway up this rig in 2010. Then it started snowing and we ran away. The lower half isn't very hard but is like being inside the barrel of a loaded cannon and felt pretty spooky. I might like to try it again but for now I'm just honored to have been able to set foot on it.

nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 27, 2014 - 09:45pm PT
another note to add: the ruddy/slawinski/e. walsh ascent was via a new direct start...
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 28, 2014 - 07:24pm PT
The Wild Thing: Peter Arbic, Ward Robinson and Barry Blanchard.

It was a line that caught my eye in 1980, long before I had done any alpine climbing or had any idea of what was possible in the mountains.
Its realization was particularly satisfying to me not because it was a technical challenge, but rather as a result of waiting for perfect conditions, a feeling for the mountain as opposed to an exercise of ego, if that makes any sense.
I had no idea it had been tried before but on the way home from the weeping wall the weekend before, I had stopped on the highway and it more or less spoke to me. When Ward called looking to do something I knew exactly what that would be. (VI,5.9,A3,W4)

Thanks to Peter Arbic




The Wild Thing

By Barry Blanchard and Peter Arbic

Blanchard

She is beautiful. Her face is smooth and white. She watches me climb through pale gray eyes. Her expression never changes; it is tranquil, powerful and compassionate, but mostly it is calm: detached and calm. The white mist hangs from her body like silk and the sweep of her limbs is all grace and balance. The white lady can draw me up and fulfill me or she can be deathís mistress.

I lock my elbows and stare in to the mirror. Then years of climbing have reaped their tool on my body and soul. A patch of scar tissue marks the fragmented bone in the bridge of my nose; a souvenir from the north face Les Droites in 1980.

There was a full moon illuminating the Aregentiere basin that September night so Kevin and I climbed without headlamps. The next morning, 100 meters from the top, Kevin sheared out a Frisbee-sized piece of ice with his left crampon. He didnít sense it, and therefore didnít call it. It fell 50 meters gaining speed and rotation. I looked up and took it in the face. I saw black and then blood: red blood splashed across blue nylon. Nauseated, I hacked and staggered my way up to Kevin. ďIt looks bad,Ē was all he could say. I waded through the rest of the climb wondering if I would be scarred, ugly.

My fingers are stroking the bridge of my nose; it didnít scar too badly. I watch as my hand moves down over the drag of two day stubble, across the nakedness of my chest to the three-inch ridge of scar below my left nipple. My knife wound from Joshua Tree, 1981. A blade was clenched in a greasy fist that slashed upwards from the asphalt and dust. I should have had stitches, but I couldnít afford them and so I kept climbing. The cut healed up from the constant stretching.

The latest addition is still fresh: six months fresh. I look at it now. It's part of my left hand. A 125-metre slide down a 40-degree slope left two people dead and me with a thumb that doesnít bend much and has two pieces of wire holding it together. It is my new companion now. My old thumb doesnít exist anymore, just this new one and how it came to be.

Donít think about that Blanch. It will only wreck another day. Have there been two consecutive days that you havenít relived it? Suffer machine. Thank Christ for Jill. Those were her arms that held you, healed you after your white lady gave you a flick of her dagger instead of caress.

The beautiful white lady with the red dagger. Sheís given you the few moments of euphoria that youíve known, but no love. Only a real women can give you love. I look into my own brown eyes reflected in the mirror. The lady is calling me again, and I know Iíll go. But Iím going to follow her hands with a sober eye. Iíll watch for the dagger.

Starting

The northeast face of Mount Chephren rises for 1,500 meters above the Mistaya River. Itís a wedding cake draped over with black satin. Long ridges and gullies slice through horizontal bands of snow and rock. The face is similar to other big wall in the Rockies and the Alps but, like a human face, the union of all its parts creates a distinct pattern. There are no duplicates, it is an individual.

Arbic

Staring at Chephren that day got me fired. It looked to be in shape, if such a thing was possible, with a little left to the imagination. A week later, Ward is on the phone with a promise from lying Ralph (the weatherman): cold and clear for four days. Ward has the same itch I do. The plan is set. When Barry agrees to come everything seems to click into full party mode.

Day one

I canít recall having fallen off while mountaineering before. Nevertheless, I got sailing and a few loose holds continue on over Wardís head. A little higher I fix the ropes, scoping the next two pitches. Then down the lines to our snow cave. God damn, those next two look ugly. Hey Bubba, deluxe digs man.

Blanchard

The gas stove hums along producing a steady blue flame. I chip pieces of snow from the sidewalls of the snow cave and stuff them into the covered aluminum pot. Snow turns into water and the water is converted to food and brews.

Do this well I tell myself. It is important. Divide out the hot chocolate, but get more snow on before you drink. Only boil what you need. Keep checking. Make sure the water always has snow in it. Donít waste fuel, you may need it.

Peter and I are shoulder to shoulder at one end of the cave with Wardís feet wedged between us. We need the least amount of space this way and will sleep the warmest. Our insolite pads overlap to form a large mat which covers the whole floor. The walls and ceiling are glazed from the heat of our bodies and the stove. Small grains of snow no longer sprinkle down on us with every movement. The musky smell of hashish oozes around us like incense burned with a lover in a sanctuary of a bedroom.

Sheís here now. She hovers. She doesnít need our technology to sustain her, but she does need us. We are important to her, her lovers. I close my eyes and a stroke of white silk caresses my face.

Itís my turn on the Walkman and although I canít hear Peter and Ward, I catch occasional glances from vibrant eyes as they putter about arranging their wombs for the night. Sheís been good to us today. We climbed four fifth-class pitches and 600 metres of third-class ground. Iím excited and content. This is how humans were meant to be.

Day Two

Somewhere high in the atmosphere, air is converging and descending: high pressure. A stable, cold air-mass creates a cloudless sky over the Rockies. In the human zone it is calm and crisp. The air is like cold water. Clear and refreshing, you can taste it on your teeth when you breathe.

Arbic

Ward is out there trying to be delicate across a slab on front points. His tool searches for something to hook across into the corner. Three metres up the corner a piece pulls. Barry and I giggle as Ward swings. Scary business eh. Ten metres up and Ward comes slamming down to the base of the corner in a flurry of pin popping. His axe goes winging off in the general direction of the truck. A very real moment.

Blanchard

The motion stops and Ward screams, ďF*#k, f*#k, f*#k, how did I pull so many pieces?Ē We donít answer. Ward pulls it together and starts back up the pitch. I turn to Peter: ďGod, Iím shaking, man. I think Iím more scared than Ward is.Ē ďI donít think so,Ē Peter replies. Over the valley, I see the ladyís dagger slicing away.

Arbic

I swing around in my harness to get my face out of the way. Barry scrapes around for something to stem. He gets scrunched up under the roof of our little alcove. Working for some gear to move out on. A couple of tie offs, a couple more maybe, and heís gone. I turn up The Clash, strum a few bars and grin at Ward. You gotta love it, this kind of situation.

Blanchard

Performance time Blanchard. So the last two years have been tough. So what? Everybody suffers. Maybe youíre not as good as you were four years ago, but youíre here now. Do what you can do. Itís no oneís fault but your own that youíre not climbing as well as you used to. Yeah, no one but injury, failure and death.

Cut the shit; youíre hesitating. No asking Peter or Ward to take the pitch. Wardís shattered. Shattered like you were in 83. Same fall, same fear, same burn. We all have only so much to give. Do what Kevin did for you then: grab the rack, jump in and fire.

I bridge out my left foot and hook my front points onto a small ledge. Snow falls and Peter shifts his face away from it. I reach for her hands and step into the dance. Be nice darling, be kind.

Two hours later, she leaves me. Itís been intense. Iíve trembled and reached and hauled. She drew me on through my fear. Those gray eyes; that long and perfect body. I wanted her. Sheís gone now and Iím standing on the small horizontal island a thousand metres up. The ground falls away before me. Behind, Iím anchored to a system of pitons around me. Iím immersed in silver water.

Where is she? Why has she left me? I risked for her. Ward arrives, then Peter. Ward pulls up onto the snow ledge. He runs the rope to an anchor at the base of a steep chimney. Peter goes at the chimney and I rap down to dig the cave. I hack out squares of frozen snow and think of her.

Arbic

Somewhere below, I must be beaning somebody. Barry has wisely retreated to dig a cave. Ward is stuck at the base of the corner holding me. The spindrift separates us and makes it easier to chuck off the loose holds. Waves pound over for the longest time. I imagined what various sizes of rocks will feel like. I finish the pitch howling at the stars. Ward cackles back.

Day Three

The last pitches were magic. I marveled, jugging the lines and cleaning. Up into Wardís niche, another screw in and clip. Barry comes up and I stem out over the stance as he tries to jam himself out of harmís way. A polished tongue of clear ice hangs above. I can hardly believe how good it is. At the top a long blade rings into the sound rock. Somebody laughs again, it seems to ring a little longer here.

Sh#t, it took a long time to get this anchor. Half-a-dozen pins shift as Barry starts to jug. I add my weight behind them. Iím a bit freaked, with 20 minutes of light left and maybe one pitch to true love. I pin my heart on my sleeve, hand over the rack and shoo him off. By the time Ward arrives, I am beginning to suffer a little. Barry calls down that he doesnít think it will go. We poke around for a bivy, but prospects are gloomy. Look Bubba, get up that thing right f*#king now. As he works we suffer a little harder.

Blanchard

This is hard. Itís dark now and Iím alone. My hip is cramping and my calves have turned to stone. I know Iím tearing muscle tissue. Where are you? Iím afraid. Iím going to fall. If I fall I will die.

The cold, sterile blade of the dagger is pressing against my flesh. The flat of the blade is searing into me from breast to groin. The edges are hungry. One more pulsation and they will bite. My strength is being devoured. My heat is being conducted from me. I want out. Please. I want to wait for the sun. I want to be with you. I need you.

Ward and Peter shout to me from the darkness below. We must finish tonight. I canít quit. I press my fingers into the shafts of my ice tools, my forearms vibrate and I strive upwards.

The ice vein is thin now. Iím bridged between snow and rock trying to hook my right tool above the choc-stone. Dust falls into my face and I am blind.

The pick holds and I pull into the final alcove. A number three Friend bites securely behind a frozen block. One more hard press and I step out on the south slopes of the summit of Mount Chephren.

Sheís out there waiting for me. Wind pulls the white dress tight to her body. I strain against the ropes of my mortality. I enter her embrace. She is power and benevolence. She has let me in and the dagger is sheathed for now.

Thanks to Brandon Pullan
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Dec 28, 2014 - 11:06pm PT
Avery - a couple of distant shots of Mt. Chephren:



Also, a nice pic taken by Pierre Darbellay included in the AAJ's "The Alpine Briefs" and marked to show The Wild Thing with its direct and original starts and the Dogleg Couloir:
https://alpinebriefs.wordpress.com/near-2/near-3/darbellay-twt-001-rls/

Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 28, 2014 - 11:45pm PT
Thanks a lot BMcC, I've been desperate for pics like this!
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 29, 2014 - 03:17pm PT
Mt Chephren, The Wild Thing: Sean Dougherty, Joe Josephson and Grant Statham.


Thanks to Mark Kroese



Hi Avery

I climbed The Wild Thing in April 1992 with Joe Josephson and Sean Dougherty. As far as we knew it was the second ascent. We spent two nights on the face, and then one more stumbling over the summit in the dark and down the backside. The route was excellent but quite hard and I recall we dodged a lot of large spindrift avalanches in the lower gullies. Our first bivi was a snow-cave below the crux rock-band, and the next day it took us all day to get through that rock-band and dig another cave in the ledge above. The crux pitch was hard and took Joe Joe about 4 hours to lead it. It starts with a totally smooth slab, traverse across to an overhanging slot with a giant snow mushroom in the back. A hard pitch, and Joe took a good whipper in the middle of it. Into the final gullies we expected ice runnels but it must have been a dry year as we climbed a bunch of scary low angled pitches with no ice on them and distant knifeblades for gear. The final 2 pitches to the summit were maybe the best on the route - steep chimney with a 30 cm wide ice runnel in the back and good gear. I led both of these by headlamp and it was one of the coolest experiences I have had. Topped out at 1am with no anchor to be found, so lay in the scree while the other guys jugged the ropes on my waist. Damn that sucked. Anyway we were very psyched to have climbed it - it's a killer line on a huge face that towers above the road.

Thanks to Grant Statham
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 29, 2014 - 05:37pm PT
I am often amazed by how many totally bad-assed climbers there are on Supertopo. Thanks for the first-hand content and photos!

wrt MarkWestman: "inside the barrel of a loaded cannon" = very evocative.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Dec 29, 2014 - 11:12pm PT
Several more pics:


Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 29, 2014 - 11:15pm PT
Thanks a lot, BMcC
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Dec 30, 2014 - 12:55am PT
hey there say, avery... very nice thread ... wow, i really like all this...


thanks, too, to all that chipped in such neat pics!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Dec 30, 2014 - 01:01pm PT
How prominent is the face? How many other routes are on it? Looks kind of cool.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 30, 2014 - 02:28pm PT
The face is roadside, apparently. I think there are three routes on it, plus a direct start. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong. Cheers!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Dec 30, 2014 - 02:56pm PT
Ok, from route description it seems like the face is about 5,000 ft.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 30, 2014 - 03:06pm PT
yah, Avery's right about it being roadside [albeit on the other side of the river, so not without a bit of an approach]...

the face is about 1550m [~5100'] from valley floor and with about 1300m [~4300'] of that requiring climbing of some sort.

afaik, there are four routes on the east face:
[from south to north, with for all intents and purposes the first two being "summer" rock routes, and the latter two being "winter" ice routes]

1. Leftover Rib: J. Sevigny + R. Slawinski [Summer 2000: V 5.8/9]
2. Gran Route: P.A. Geiser, A. Gran + J.R. Hudson [Jul. 1965: V 5.9 A1]
..... FFA: J. Sevigny + R. Slawinski [Summer 1998: V 5.11-]
3. The Wild Thing: P. Arbic, W. Blanchard + W. Robinson [Mar. 1987: VI 5.9 A3 W4]
..... FFA: J. Simms + J. Walsh [Nov. 2008: VI M7 W5]
3.a. The Wild Thing Direct: D. Ruddy, R. Slawinski + E. Walsh [Feb. 2009: VI M7 W5]
4. The Dogleg Couloir: P. Darbellay + R. Slawinski [Mar. 2008: V/VI M7 A1]

from the above we can conclude that on his way to the icefields, slawinski can often only afford enough gas to make it to chephren... ha!
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 30, 2014 - 05:12pm PT
Thanks nah000,

Most illuminating, I had no idea there was a "Left Over Rib" Can you draw the route line on a pic for me?

Raphael is going to send me some stuff about his Wild Thing experience in the new year. Perhaps we should rename the peak Mt Slawinski!

I'm beginning to think there's only been seven successful ascents of the Wild Thing. (I can't come up with any more names) Maybe you can?

Cheers
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 30, 2014 - 05:59pm PT

Mt. Chephren, Leftover Rib, New Route. The east face of Mt. Chephren, a graceful pyramid with a multitude of rock ribs sweeping down from the summit, towers nearly a vertical mile above the Icefields Parkway. It received its first ascent in the summer of 1965, when a crew of Vulgarians led by Art Gran climbed the central rib. Then, in the winter of 1987, Barry Blanchard, Ward Robinson, and Peter Arbic pioneered The Wild Thing up a steep mixed gully to the right of the Gran Route. But that left a lot of unexplored ground.

I got my first taste of the east face in 1998 when Jim Sevigny and I climbed the Gran Route. A few years earlier, Jim and Ken Wylie had attempted a new line on the east face, but Jim and I were going alpine climbing together for the first time and thought it better to stick to an established route. Last August found us once again glassing the face from across Waterfowl Lake. Our objective was the line Jim and Ken had attempted earlier: an obvious rib left of the Gran Route.

A pitch or two of scruffy comers got us to the base of a large ramp. We unroped and scrambled upward, Jim stopping only to retrieve the anchors he left while retreating in a snowstorm from the previous attempt. We put the rope back on for an easy but loose gully; above, we continued simulclimbing up more pleasant ground. A traverse back right and it looked like some ďrealĒ climbing was in order. We changed into rock shoes and started pitching it out. A few ropelengths of 5.8 (made more interesting by packs full of all the toys we thought we would need), and we arrived at the large ledge below the upper face. The direct line looked too hard to climb with packs and we donít like hauling, so we did the typical Rockies traverse. Once around the corner we spied a chimney capped by a chockstone that looked like it might go. It went a lot more easily than expected and soon we were back in boots and simulclimbing until we bumped up against the final steep wall.

I changed back into rock shoes and wandered up for a look. At the top of a teetering pinnacle, I managed to get a pin into the compact rock above, and set out on some excellent if somewhat runout climbing. Another pitch and we were off the face. A cold wind was blowing and we had only an hour of daylight remaining, so we didnít linger. We knew where to go from our Gran Route ascent and, after some high-speed glissading, were back at Chephren Lake at dark. We ate the rest of our food, hoisted packs full of aid and bivy gear we never needed, and set off on the few hours of wretched hiking still separating us from the comforts of Jimís Eurovan.

Raphael Slawinski, Canada

from AAJ 2001
http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200124902/North-America-Canada-Canadian-Rockies-Mt-Chephren-Leftover-Rib-New-Route
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 30, 2014 - 06:19pm PT
Mt Chephren, The Wild Thing: Rob Owens and Mike Verwey

Rob Owens and Mike Verwey made the third ascent of The Wild Thing (VI 5.9 A3 WI40) on the northeast face of Mt. Chephren. The two spent two nights and three full days on the route, finding that even with the full arsenal of new mixed techniques the route remained a serious challenge. In an eerie re-enactment of Ward Robinsonís misadventure on the first ascent, Owens took a long fall while leading the crux A3 chimney, losing one of his tools.

American Alpine Journal, 2005.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 30, 2014 - 07:04pm PT
here ya go Avery.

the photo was taken out of and routes 2 + 3 were traced from dougherty's book o' lies. so blame him if those are wrong. haha. 3a + 4 should be effectively correct as they follow pretty straight forward features. 1 is an educated guess as i've never seen anybody draw a line on a photo for that one and all i really have to go by is that it follows the rib to the south of the gran route. but it's somewhere over there, so if there aren't too many traversing shenanigans what i've drawn should be pretty close as it follows what appears in the photo to be the only major rib on that side of the gran...

Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 30, 2014 - 07:17pm PT
Many thanks, nah000, that's just what I've been looking for.

Do you have any objections if I post this pic at the start of the thread?

Cheers!
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