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Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 7, 2014 - 12:38am PT
All Known Ascents (Subject to potential change)

1st: Jim Logan and Mugs Stump: July, 1978.

2nd: Dave Cheesmond and Tony Dick: August 1981.

3rd: Barry Blanchard, Philippe Pellet and Eric Dumerac:
(Infinite Patience) September 2002.

Repeated by
Jon Walsh and Josh Wharton: May 2012 (1st 1 day ascent of Face)
Raphael Slawinski and Jay Mills: September 2012.

4th: Steve House and Colin Haley: May 2007.

5th: Jon Walsh and Jason Kruk: June 2010.

Right Hand Red line: Jon Walsh and Jason Kruk
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 7, 2014 - 03:59am PT
Jim Kanzler on the Emperor Face.


Thanks to Ed.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 7, 2014 - 05:03pm PT
Mount Robson’s Emperor Face
James Logan
THE real key to climbing the Emperor Face was making a firm decision to try, regardless of the obstacles that nature and our imagination might place in our path. Once we were on the climb and especially when high on the face, the climbing was in one sense easy—because it was within the realm of our capabilities and level of determination, and in another sense as difficult as any climbing we had ever done. For me, while climbing on a hard climb, like the Emperor or the first free ascent of the Diamond, my mind moves into a very special niche that is normally most difficult for me to reach. Instead of feeling that I am pursuing a craft or exercising a particular technique, it becomes possible for me, sometimes, in some very special places to transcend my ego, my learned skills, my hopes, fears and expectations, and simply climb. It is nothing more than “sleeping when tired; eating when hungry.” (Ma-Tsu, died 788) At such times I am able to climb much better than usual, and fortunately can most often muster this frame of mind on serious climbs where it is most needed. For me, the Emperor Face of Mount Robson was such a place.
When I first saw the face, I was totally awed by it. It was the biggest face I had ever seen, much larger than the Eiger and unbelievably, still unclimbed, fully 40 years after the first ascent of the Eiger.
I made several unsuccessful attempts to climb the face in 1976 and 1977 and felt determined to give it a good try in the summer of 1978. After an unsuccessful attempt on Mount Logan’s Hummingbird Ridge, Terry Stump (more commonly known as Mugs) and I decided to spend all summer if need be in the attempt. Desires were only whetted by our recent failure and the two weeks of rainy weather spent under the face. Finally a day dawned with broken clouds and the promise of clearing weather, and we moved up to a high bivouac on the lower snow slopes of the face. We had already climbed over 3000 feet of easy snow and rock, and had what we guessed was 5000 feet to go. Because the only feasible routes through the lower rock bands are in drainages that immediately start avalanching in any storm, it is essential to move quickly through this section. But it is also necessary to carry a full nailing rack for the increasingly steeper and difficult climbing above. We had 25 pitons for the upper section and eight days’ food to give us the time to deal with whatever difficulties we might find.
At first light the next day, we started third-classing diagonally up and left across several thousand feet of 45° water ice and soon reached the first rock band where we roped and moved up and back right towards the centre of the face. The climbing alternated between excellent 60° ice and thin ice running down over steps of rock, mostly vertical and 60 to 100 feet high. The climbing on these sections was the most difficult ice climbing I have ever done, and the protection was limited to an occasional poor knifeblade or tied-off screw. The first day on the face we were able to reach a good bivouac site on a snow rib almost exactly in the centre of the face. Besides being a luxurious lying-down bivouac, it was also the high point that Pat Callis and Jim Kanzler had reached in their attempt some years ago. They had reached this point, higher than anyone else, in three days and then retreated off to the side in an epic adventure. The next day every other pitch was extremely difficult. I led a number of pitches of vertical thin ice mixed with an occasional rock move, and Mugs had the opportunity to climb through an overhanging headwall on loose blocks. We were prepared to start the nailing whenever necessary, but ice runnels kept leading us up the centre of the face until we were under the final overhanging headwall, looking for a bivy site in a world of vertical rock and high-angle ice. We chopped two small seats out of a patch of 70° ice, and as we settled down for the night, it started to snow. Within minutes the first powder-snow avalanche poured down over us. It was quite frightening at first, but once I realized that they weren’t going to push me off as long as I stayed awake, it all became better, just one more in a long series of “bad bivouacs.” The next morning Mugs led up the steep ice to the final headwall, and I set off on a very slow and complex nailing pitch. A row of tied pins, a little vertical ice climbing and then back onto another tied-off knifeblade. Halfway out I lowered off and cleaned the pitch, and once again started on my slow way, cleaning off ice and snow, looking for one more placement. Nuts were useless, and I was thankful for the thousands of pitons I had pounded in the past, making this nailing almost comfortable. At the top of the pitch I ran out of ice and good rock, and set off free climbing for thirty feet of vertical, loose, snow-covered rock with no protection. As I neared the top, one of my crampons slipped off a hold and I quickly mantled onto an axe placed in mush—that caught on something and stayed in long enough to get me to a belay stance. From that point on our minds were mush, as we knew we had done the climb and we grumpily moved up the snow-covered slabs of the North Face. A tunnel in the cornice let us through onto the ridge where we spent the night. The next morning we debated whether or not to go up the ridge to the summit, but as this would have meant crossing over the mountain and spending several more days, we decided to descend the south face back to our camp, which we reached that day.
What had been vital was to climb the face, and going to the summit was no longer important, probably in part because I had already stood on that summit. What did seem important were the heights to which we had already pushed ourselves and the freedom we had found there. But this freedom is a transitory thing, and for this reason there is always a next climb, for each one is only a stepping-stone along the path.
“If he is irresistibly driven towards this goal, he must set out on his way again, take the road to the artless art. He must dare to leap into the Origin, so as to live by the Truth and in the Truth, like one whom
has become one with it. He must become a pupil again, a beginner; conquer the last and steepest stretch of the way, undergo new transformations. If he survives its perils, then is his destiny fulfilled: face
to face he beholds the unbroken Truth, the Truth beyond all truths, the formless Origin of origins, the Void which is the All; is absorbed into it and from it emerges reborn.”
—Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery
Summary of Statistics:
Area: Mount Robson, Canadian Rockies.
New Route: Emperor Face (James Logan, Terry Stump) , third week of
July, 1978.

American Alpine Journal 1979
Dick Erb

climber
June Lake, CA
Dec 7, 2014 - 05:24pm PT
Wow it is wonderful to be able to read that wonderful write up by Jim Logan, about an amazing breakthrough climb, well done.
feynman

Trad climber
chossberta
Dec 7, 2014 - 07:08pm PT
Nice to hear about Kanzler's contribution: he did a lot down in my neck of the woods, and getting some perspective is nice.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 7, 2014 - 07:20pm PT

"The Emperor Face," Mount Robson, Canada,
Climbing 52.


Thanks to steelmnkey
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 7, 2014 - 10:58pm PT
Mount Robson, Emperor Face: 1981

Tony Dick and I climbed a new line in the Emperor Face in August 1981. We went left of the Stumps-Logan line. There was much hard ice climbing, much rockfall and rock climbing up to 5.9, A3.

David Cheesmond, Alpine Club of Canada
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 8, 2014 - 05:40pm PT
Thanks Avery - very nice.
Is the Scurlock photo from the 2008 AAJ?
Thanks for the typo fix.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 8, 2014 - 07:46pm PT
Avery: what's the source for that last image on the second post with the colored lines of ascension drawn in? that's the most comprehensive and explicit topo i've seen for those lines... very nice.

also anybody know about a french ascent that made it to the top of the face but didn't top out robson itself? or is that something i made up... haha. iirc, i thought that happened in the latish 90s sometime...

edit:
vvvvv thanks Avery.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 8, 2014 - 08:03pm PT
Hey nah000,

Here's the link:

http://www.iborderline.net/intotherocks/2010/07/una-scalata-imperiale/
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 9, 2014 - 04:51pm PT
Mt Robson, Infinite Patience.

In mid-morning on October 23 Eric Dumerac (Canmore, Alberta), Philippe Pellet (Briançon, France), and I (Canmore) stepped from the warm interior of a Jet Ranger helicopter and into the early winter environs of Berg Lake, below the Emperor Face. For an hour we hiked and scrambled up onto the side of the Mist Glacier. We toiled for the next four hours overcoming the first steep band, via an M5, WI4+ system that could probably be avoided by going farther right. This was by far the hardest pitch of the route. These pitches gave access to the large couloir that is the prominent feature on the right side of the Emperor Face. Moderate snow climbing brought us to a ledge at about 8,500', where we shoveled a bivy site. The night was calm and the Northern Lights phenomenal.

Day two began with five ropelengths of class 4 up the big gully. A traverse and two ropelengths on 5.7ish mixed ground brought us into the upper ice strip. After three more ropelengths of 4th class on ice, we belayed an M4 ice chimney. Above lay another five rope¬ lengths of 5th class climbing, each containing cruxes in the M3–M5 range. The last of these pitches merged us with the Emperor Ridge-North Face option and its more substantial gully. That night on the ridge at about 10,800', we bivied in brisk winds and bitter wind chills,

Day three (October 25) started with one ropelength up the substantial, gully, then a fine ice strip up a chimney (finest pitch of the route, absolute classic), followed by a half ropelength of dry and fine rock on the ridge proper. Much 4th-classing and bypassing small and sometimes hard (5.9) cruxes brought us to an ice ledge at about 12,000', where we chose to avoid the infamous gargoyles of the Emperor Ridge by traversing an ice ledge for a kilometre. A true test of one’s frontpointing and calf-muscle endurance! We finished the route via the gully atop the Wishbone Arête in three pitches at midnight. We bivied east of the summit, in a large, bridged crevasse: It provided some protection from an awful wind-chill. The day clocked in at 20 hours.

On October 26 we descended the Schwarz Ledges route to the Forster Hut, where at 4 p.m. the good people at Yellowhead Helicopters agreed to come get us and whisk us off to the trailhead.

Overall an absolute classic route on mostly ice and snow, as good as any on the globe, that gains an impressive 7,500'. The mountain was in perfect condition, and it was a grand adventure in the company of good men.

Barry Blanchard,
Canada


American Alpine Journal 2003
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 10, 2014 - 04:49pm PT
Infinite Patience: Jon Walsh and Josh Wharton
(1st one day ascent of the Emperor Face)

A few weeks ago now, on May 12th, I finally had the opportunity to tie in with Josh Wharton. I first met Josh in Patagonia in 2005, and over three consecutive seasons, watched him and his mates raise the bar, time after time. I observed, got inspired and tried to copy, and a string of my own successes ensued. More recently, he’s been making regular trips to my main stomping grounds - the Canadian Rockies, and getting amongst the big mixed routes they’re renowned for. We were totally psyched on the same types of adventures and frequently exchanged conditions updates and beta. We often talked about climbing together, but our schedules had never quite meshed until now.

As the weekend of May 12th and 13th approached, the cosmos seemed to fall into alignment. Not only did I have an ideal partner for a big alpine outing, but four days of sunshine were forecasted, with perfect temperatures, and excellent snow conditions all at the same time. I suggested we go to Robson, and we agreed on a hiring a helicopter to save us the half-day approach to its north side. This would hopefully allow us to be quick enough to climb the Emperor Face and have me back to work for 7 a.m. Monday morning, not to mention keeping our legs fresh for the excursion ahead.

So on Friday afternoon, I ducked out of work two hours early, drove directly from my job in Calgary to Canmore (all my food and gear was prepacked), met up with Josh, and we were on the road by 3. Four hours / 400 kilometers later, we repacked in the Mt. Robson provincial park parking lot, agreeing to bring only enough food for a big day, mostly in the form of gels and bars (Vega of course in my case) and waited for Yellowhead Helicopters to show up and whisk us away to the other side. By 9 p.m., we were at Mist Lake, gawking at the Emperor face, which towered 2000 meters above us! Conditions were generally looking a bit snowy, so the route Infinite Patience seemed to be the most logical option. I had looked down it a couple of years ago while descending the Emperor Ridge, after climbing another line just to its left. Incoming weather had forced my partner Jason Kruk and I to descend the ridge instead of continuing to the summit after topping out above the face. What I had seen was a perfect strip of silver ice dropping for a long ways, and I knew at that moment that I would be back to climb it someday. Since Barry Blanchard, Eric Dumerac and Philippe Pellet had opened the route in October of 2002, it had remained unrepeated.

We made a small fire from the dry shrubbery around the lake to hang out by for a bit, and after a few hours of “sort-of” sleeping under a light tarp without sleeping bags, the alarm went off at 3. A quick bit of coffee and we were off, cramponing right from the lake on a well-frozen snowpack. A couple hours later, it got light at the first steep rock band, which is the hardest climbing on the route. I liked the look of a corner 20 meters right were the FA party had climbed, although soon I was battling up 80-degree snow, steep rock and run-out M6 for two pitches, wishing I had taken the original line. “We’ve climbed the crux” Josh said, “I guess we can go home now”. A lot of simul-climbing ensued across a snowfield, followed by some delightfully fun / moderate ice climbing, that weaved around huge snow mushrooms, to connect different couloirs and gullies. One of the more memorable moments for me was a fun overhang past frightfully detached, belay-threatening snow mushroom, that required persevering a relentless spindrift wave. I hesitated for a moment to ponder the 13cm ice-screw / ice-tool belay that Josh was hanging from 20 feet below, and the absence of any gear between us. Waiting for the spindrift to stop seemed futile so a quick wipe of gloves, and a couple of lock-offs later had me into the upper ice runnel. This continued for about six magical rope-lengths, and we began pitching it out.

Conditions were absolutely perfect. Where there was snow, there was just enough for secure bucket steps that had mercy on our calf muscles, yet not enough to cause us any concern for avalanches. Temperatures were very comfortable, and just warm / cold enough for optimal snow stability. The ice was generally soft and our ice tools bit securely into it with light one-stick swings ninety percent of the time. In other words, we were making quick and efficient work of the face, and having a good time doing it. The one drawback of the soft ice was that it didn’t protect very easily with ice screws, but between that and the lack of too much rock gear, there wasn’t much to slow us down.

After about 11 hours and 1700 meters of elevation gain, we were off the face and onto the Emperor Ridge. The wind was screaming up the 3000-meter SW face which made using our Jetboil to melt snow into drinking water an impossible task. An 800-meter sideways traverse was ahead, as well as another 500 meters of elevation to gain to reach the 3954 summit – the highest in the Canadian Rockies. The plan was to go over the summit and down the South Face route to the car. If we were lucky, we might even get to the Ralph Forster hut, which is halfway down and have a luxurious bivi. So we trudged on getting thirstier by the step. Going sideways for that far is tedious and monotonous but fortunately the snow was good and a few interesting moves around some snow, ice and rock features presented themselves from time to time. We simul-climbing all the way to the summit, switching off the trail breaking whenever the leader needed a break.

As we got closer to the top, the “gargoyles” which are the massive rime formations that tend to wildly overhang the ridges near the summit on all sides, got bigger and bigger. We climbed a dead-end gully right into the heart of them, but a straightforward way through didn’t present itself. Instead, more sideways climbing over steep Patagonian-like rime features and down their other sides repeated itself several times before we finally found passage to the top. The wind was nuking! Snow crystals stung our faces and after a quick hi-five and a couple of photos, we began the long descent. It was 8:45 and it had taken us 17 hours from the lake, making it the first one-day ascent of Mt. Robson via the Emperor Face.

The descent wasn’t easy and we were surprised at the amount of down climbing we had to do. The terrain was steep all the way to the valley, and very little of it was free of objective dangers. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time exposed to potential serac fall! Shortly after midnight we stopped in a sheltered spot for a short brew, as we were beyond dehydrated at this point. A little while later, we had made it to the yellow bands, but were lost in the dark and losing hope of finding the hut. It was now 2:30 and we needed daylight to find our way through the cliffs below. We laid out the packs and rope, and crawled under the tarp for a quick power nap. By 5 a.m., it was getting light and we were tired of shivering. The rest of the descent remained tedious, but went smoothly and by noon we were back in the parking lot, with 10 000 feet of descending behind us, and stoked to have had such a fine first adventure together. Although it wasn’t nearly the most technically difficult route either of us had done, it made up in pure physical burl factor, and was of extremely high quality. We would highly recommend it and I think it deserves to become a classic. Easily one of the best I’ve done in the Rockies!

Summery: the first one-day ascent of Mt. Robson via the Emperor face and the route Infinite Patience (2200m M5-6 WI4) JW / JW, May 12th and 13th 2012

32 hours from Berg Lake to the parking lot; 50 hours Canmore –Canmore return.

Jon Walsh

The North Face and the Emperor face of Mt. Robson from the helicopter. Our line is marked in red.
Josh hanging by the fire and scoping the face. There were about six hours to kill between the helicopter drop and wake up and go time.
Josh heading towards the some sweet ice and mixed climbing about halfway up
Josh, swapping leads and scoping. A snow covered Berg Lake below.
Josh following a pitch in the upper reaches of Infinite Patience, a little below the ridge. There were at lease 6 consecutive pitches of this nature in a row here.
Josh in cruise control mode during the six hour traverse accross the upper west face, eyes on the summit.
Looking back at our track accross the west face. Can you see it?
Josh, about to head more upwards than sideways at last.
Entering gargoyle country.
Hopefully these crazy rime features aren't ready to succomb to gravity.
Climbing through these things reminded us of Patagonia.
Thumbs up on the summit! The strong winds driving rime crystals into our faces and preventing us to melt snow for water kept out summit time to about a minute. Only 10 000 feet of tedious descending to go...

Special thanks to Jon Walsh
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 10, 2014 - 05:28pm PT
Pretty cool - thanks, Avery.
goatboy smellz

climber
लघिमा
Dec 10, 2014 - 05:47pm PT
Not sure about the west but the north face is one of the 50 classic ski descents.

[Click to View YouTube Video]
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 10, 2014 - 07:28pm PT
so i made half of it up. it was slovenians in 2002, not french in the late 90's, who climbed to the top of the emperor face, but didn't continue on up the ridge to the summit herself...

the following is copy pasta'd from a post by Dru on cascadeclimbers:

That August team was two Slovenians. Here's the beta from Raphael Slawinski:

Two Slovenian alpinists, Matej Mosnik and Jure Prezelj, climbed what they originally thought was a new line on the Emperor Face in August. This is the obvious big gully on the far right side of the face which leads to the base of the steep step on the Emperor Ridge. They reached the ridge, bivied, and descended back to Berg Lake. However, this line had in fact been attempted several times before by Blanchard, House and Josephson, who reached the same high point as the Slovenians. So although any activity on the Emperor Face is noteworthy, the Slovenians did not in fact climb a new route. As to whether the route in question is in fact complete depends on whether you consider a new route finished when it joins an existing line, or only when the summit is reached.

Below I have pasted in a portion of an email from Matej Mosnik in which he describes their effort. Pretty impressive! And to further put the depth of climbing talent in Slovenia in perspective, neither is well known back home.

"I and Jure climbed in 16.august. We start at 3 am from our tent. After we crossed a river we start to move up trough moraine to the snow. We climbed up inline with big couloar and reached first short rock section (4+,UIAA). After that we came to the snow field and moved up to the rock at right at the bottom of the big couloar. We got roped then. The next was a five or six pitches of snow and ice climbing. It was an intresting climbing because of a big, 3 meters deep gully in the middle of the couloar. We have to traverse it several times. It gave us some fun. And we were lucky, because there wasn't any rockfall at all. In next two pitches we have to climb a rock section (5, UIAA) to the upper couloar. We just start to climbed a rock when the snowfall began. So, in upper part of the routh we were attacked by avalanches all the time. Upper we climbed the bigger avalanches came down. After a steep ice chimney we were in the bottom of the last couloar which leads to the Emperor Ridge. But we were forced to move to the right. The avalanches in last couloar were too often and too big. In next two pitches of mix climbing we reached the Emperor Ridge. The weather were still bad, and we decided to go down. At 11pm we were in the bottom of Emperor Ridge. We climbed about 13 hours to reach the ridge and next 5 hours to the point where we take a bivouac. The next morning we moved back to our little tent."


so depending on how much of a stickler a person wants to be, either another ascent of the emperor face or at least [most of?] the emperor face portion of what became infinite patience...

and at 13 hrs [or 15, as the total time doesn't add up to their climbing time] from camp to ridge, bloody fast as well.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 10, 2014 - 08:31pm PT
Thanks nah000,

I had no idea about this fine effort.

Cheers!
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Dec 10, 2014 - 08:35pm PT
Speaking of the west face, anyone heard the tale of a bunch of bone heads from whistler "skiing" it back in the late 70's?

I remember that Bruce. What a circus. Did Chrzanowski fly to the summit? I heard tales of him attempting to rap onto the face from 2x4 "pickets" using hardware store polypro rope.

I thought the N Face has been skied successfully just once. By Ptor Spriceniks and Troy Jungen in September, 1995. They spent some time waiting for conditions and nailed it. Big scary descent!
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 10, 2014 - 08:42pm PT
regarding the slovenian ascent, the ironic part is that they weren't well known back in slovenia...

which as the quoted post mentions, just goes to show the relative depth of slovenian alpinism...

i think house mentions how some of the slovenian newspapers include a section on alpinist ascents in the sports section...

but i might be making half of that up too... haha.
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Dec 10, 2014 - 08:50pm PT
^^ At his AAC talk the other night, Steve House described how excited he was when he was 19 years old and received an "invite" to take part in a Slovenian Nanga Parbat expedition. At the time, he didn't realize this "invitation" went out to all 2 million+ members of the Slovenian Alpine Club, roughly 10% of the population of Yugoslavia.

So I'm not surprised that Slovenian newspapers have alpine climbing in the sports section.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 10, 2014 - 09:11pm PT
^^^^

ha! that's funny.



yah. chrzanowski tried a few times, with at least a couple of those via helicopters. he did succeed, [i believe sans chopper?] in summiting and then skiing the kain face.

a few years back, i found and watched the movie that documented his first attempt, and it was pretty funny. basically everything got hyped and the cbc and other media were creating a big circus due to being drawn in by chrzanowki's hype man. then, when it was go time chrz and his partner got super snaileyed. i think you're right that they were trying to rap into the west face on polypro ropes as the north face wasn't even plausible to them at the time...

and yah, spricenieks and jungen are the only [known] ones to have skiied the n. face... that descent is the epitome of soul skiing... they timed the weather, new snow and full moon, bombed in there under their own power and ripped that mother.

this is an old writeup:

Ptor Spricenieks and Troy Jungen summited the 3,954-metre peak in the pre-dawn moonlight last Saturday after a gruelling four-and-a-half day ascent and skied down the entire mountain in a day-and-a-half. "This is the greatest adventure so far in my life," says Spricenieks, 27, a global ski tourer and cosmic consciousness raiser. According to Spricenieks, cosmic couch surfer Jungen had been carefully monitoring the snow conditions on Robson all summer and a combination of summer storms and the full moon prompted the pair to attempt the descent. They were also motivated by their daring chauffeur, Whistler's Robin Allen, who plied the boys with energy and positive prompting. A number of ski descents have been attempted on Mount Robson, but all have failed. Spricenieks and Jungen are what he calls "natural partners" and are both in the process of writing their PhD thesis on Ski Shamanism and the Robson adventure should be worth at least a chapter. "Since way back Troy and I have been spending years getting scared together," laughs Spricenieks. The two made the ascent over the upper Mist Glacier under the full moon and had to free climb the last pitch of 70 degree ice to the summit at 3 a.m. Saturday. They had climbed most of the route they skied down, but opted for the ice climb to the summit because the chute they were going to descend was full of "like, totally winter powdies," says Spricenieks. After a power lunch on the summit, Jungen and Spricenieks jumped into the 70 degree chute. "We dropped in right off the summit and it was really, really, really, really steep and really, really big and we were way scared… it was great," recalls Spricenieks, adding snow conditions ranged from winter powder at the top to slushy, isothermic snow over top of ice near the lower elevations — but there was snow all the way down. "We had to blow like 20 feet of air to get to safer exposures on the glacier because of all the crevasses," he says. Spricenieks and Jungen dedicated their effort to Peter Chrzanowski, the Canadian extreme skiing pioneer who attempted to descend Robson four times, and Jerry Garcia who motivated the boys to higher heights. "It's a real gnarly place and if the weather came in it would be almost impossible to get off the mountain," Spricenieks says. "The cosmic forces were definitely with us." He says their success can also be attributed to the fact that they called the mountain by its original Indian name — Yuh-hai-has-hun — and did their adventure during the Indian Summer. "It's really important to remember the original Indian name," he says. "That's what these mountains should be called, not under some name of some Hudson's Bay dude who walked into the area to make cash off the natural resources."
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 10, 2014 - 09:29pm PT
OK, so Mosnik and Prezelj did much of Infinite Patience in August 2002,
then traversing 2 pitches to Emperor Ridge and bypassing the final 9 pitches on the face (plus the steep pitches on the ridge).
While Blanchard, Josephson and House had done the same thing earlier.
Then Blanchard, Pellet and Dumerac finished the full Infinite Patience in October 2002.

[Edit to add:] The "final 9 pitches" is a guess based on their climb description. They said they did a chimney to the base of the final couloir. If this couloir was Blanchard's "final ice strip", there were 3 4th class pitches to go up this ice strip, one M4/M5 pitch in an ice chimney, and then 5 rock pitches to the ridge. However, the Mosnik and Prezelj description mentions an ice chimney at their high point. If this was the M4/M5 "Love Chimney" in Dumerac's Alpinist description, then 5 pitches remained to the ridge.
The chimney could be pitch 20 or 27 in the gravsports link.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 10, 2014 - 10:08pm PT
^^^^

that about sums it up... although i'm not sure where you are getting an additional nine bypassed pitches on the face from?

based on both a gravsports description and an alpinist article it seems that there are only a couple more pitches to the ridge proper from the slovenians [and blanchard et als previous] highpoint. but maybe you have a better source?

but for sure there is lots more climbing [and traversing!] above to reach the summit...

still i find it interesting how the slovenian ascent basically gets written off, when imesho it should be acknowledged, if for nothing else, for the speed with which they climbed. and it was on sight as they weren't aware of blanchard et als attempts...
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 10, 2014 - 10:23pm PT
slovenians were in aug 2002, just a couple months before blanchard, pellet and dumerac's succesful oct 2002 ascent...

so prob in the 2003 caj.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 11, 2014 - 11:18am PT
Yet another fantastic thread Avery!

For a little more early history just around the corner on the Wishbone Arete check out this thread.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1350049/The-Wishbone-At-Last-Mt-Robson-Don-Claunch-CAJ-1956
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 11, 2014 - 02:00pm PT
Interesting stuff, Steve, particularly for a Kiwi outsider. Love the early pics.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Dec 11, 2014 - 05:58pm PT
Awesome thread. Avery you are on a roll. That is one kick ass looking mountain. Made it to Jasper once and have always regretted not going up to take a look.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 11, 2014 - 07:52pm PT
^^^^

haha.



oh i could tell you tales about that guy

no time like the present to take a small stroll on a tangential trajectory!
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Dec 12, 2014 - 09:53am PT
I'm nominating Avery for something good. Sick post.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 12, 2014 - 03:44pm PT
^^^^

considering what you wrote above, i'm not sure that telling stories about a guy who has made movies that don't shy away from the ridiculousness of some of his exploits, can hurt much more...

that said, fair enough.

speaking, as someone who has their own reasons for staying relatively anon here, online forum gossiping that a person wouldn't do to the gossipee's face is usually pretty lame anyway...

so apologies for egging you on... haha.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 12, 2014 - 03:51pm PT
here's a shot of house, blanchard and joshephson during their emperor face attempt of april 1996 to hopefully help things get back on track...

Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 12, 2014 - 04:30pm PT
Thanks nah000, nice pic.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 12, 2014 - 10:01pm PT
Mt Robson, Emperor Face: Jason Kruk and Jon Walsh (FA)

On Friday June 18, after deejaying the Test of Metal block party in Squamish, I hopped in my truck and drove ten hours through the night to meet JR in the Robson parking lot. Earlier in the year I’d pulled a tendon pulley in my middle finger, and so ice tools were the first things I could reasonably grab. And so if alpine climbing was the only thing in condition for me, there was one guy I knew I needed to contact: Jon Walsh, a.k.a. Jonny Red (JR). He is my total hero. He has climbed the kinds of routes around the globe that people dream of climbing, and usually in an uncompromising, bold style—single push, fast, and free. His response was immediate and positive. At the top of his hit list was a face I had dreamt about since I was a kid: the storied Emperor Face of Mt. Robson. We didn’t have to talk tactics for very long to realize we were on the same page. If we climbed fast with small packs, we would only need a couple of good days of weather. JR was adamant Rockies could be climbed in a weekend. “I’ve realized I can climb continuously for 48 hours before I need to sleep,” he said. We hiked in quickly and established a camp below the face. It was the third time that spring we’d done the long hike (25km one way) in hopes of climbing the face, and the summer solstice seemed a ridiculous time to try to climb a “winter” route. But with a plump snow pack and a mild spring, conditions looked good. Early morning on June 20, we started climbing, and, despite the continuous, cerebral (read: scary) terrain, it was a pure pleasure to climb such entertaining and sustained mixed ground for so long. We climbed quickly, swinging leads the entire way up the face, the climbing never any easier than M5 or M6 and, often, stretching pitches up to 100m with simul-climbing. With a straight face I can call the hardest pitch I led M7. We hit the top of the face at midnight as lightning struck to the north, clouds enveloped around us, and light snow started to fall. At the time the decision to go down the Emperor Ridge, and not continue to the summit, seemed pretty easy. Now I can’t help but wonder “what if?” It always seemed a little silly to argue over the very definitions we climbers make up ourselves. Summit or not, it definitely felt like a new route. In correspondence with a long time Rockies climber, another hero of mine, his point was clear: “We're not arguing black or white here, rather, different shades of ugly.”

Jason Kruk, Canada


Thanks to Jason Kruk
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 13, 2014 - 01:39pm PT

Looking down the Emperor Face.


Thanks to Colin Haley
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 14, 2014 - 06:19pm PT
from the 1985 Seventh Edition of The Rocky Mountains of Canada North by Robert Kruszyna and William L. Putnam.


MOUNT ROBSON (3954m)

The Monarch of the Canadian Rockies, aptly known to the Indians as "The Mountain of the Spiral Road" (Yuh-hai-haskun) on account of its distinctive horizontal banding. Mount Robson has captured the imagination of generations of climbers. By reason of its position, its challenge and its history, it is not only one of the great peaks of North America, but one of the great peaks of the world.

FA July 1913, W. W. Foster, A. H. MacCarthy, C. Kain. Kain (NE) Face/SE Ridge. One of the classic routes of North America and a fitting memorial to the Austrian guide, Conrad Kain. The initial slopes are subject to avalanche. Follow the Robson Glacier from Robson Pass, passing the Extinguisher to gain the part of the glacier where it steepens toward the col (2920m) at its head. From here make a rising traverse right (W) (some icefall danger) to pass over the snow slopes above the Dome (incorrectly marked on 83E3). Most parties make a high camp here; one day from Robson Pass. Access to the SE ridge proper is by the predominantly icy NE slope (Kain Face) that rises above and to the right of the Dome. Climb up between the ice bulges on the right and the exposed rock on the left, working left to avoid danger from the ice bulges (conditions often make this section treacherous to descend late in the dry). Once on the ridge, it is worth studying the route up the final ice slope ("The Roof”), as the ice formations vary from year to year. The line taken is usually straight up the SE ridge. A final difficulty is posed by the summit "mushroom." 7-10 h from Dome, 5-7 h on descent; IV, F5 (CAJ 6-11, 19).

Variant.
Parties have passed right (NW) underneath the ice bulges to gain the SE ridge near the shoulder (CAJ 48-109).

Winter Ascent.
March 1965, A. Bertulis, F. Beckey, L. Patterson, T. Stewart.


2. SSW Ridge (normal route).
The rock ridge on which the Robson Hut sits bounds the lower of the two icefalls which descend S from the summit area. July 1924, M. D. Geddes, T. B. Moffat, M. Pollard, C. Kain. From the hut make for the top of the rock ridge ("Little-Robson") where the final section of the route may be studied. Ascend the connecting ridge from Little Robson to the area under the ice cliffs of the upper icefall (danger from falling ice). From here work left above the right branch of the "Great Couloir" and up on the “Schwarz Ledges" to outflank the ice cliffs on the left (W). Once above the ice cliffs, one must negotiate the seracs of the "Roof," the best line varying from year to year. On occasion, it is best to traverse right (E) completely across the Roof to finish by the Kain Route. III, 5-9 h, hut to summit, 4h down (CAJ 19-6, 45-11).

Variant A
The cliffs of the upper icefield were first climbed on the right (E) by the "Hourglass," where the ice cliffs butt against the rock walls which funnel the upper icefall on the right (E). From the hut gain the lower glacier and cross in a rising traverse to right (avalanche danger) under the upper icefall in order to reach the Hourglass, a snow/ice chute to the left of the rock wall. Climb the Hourglass and join the Kain Route at the Shoulder. This variant may be preferred if the Schwarz Ledges are snow covered. It was by this route that the 1913 FA party descended (CAJ 37-72).

Variant B.
August 1936, H. S. Hall, Jr., H. Fuhrer. The rock walls to the right (E) have also been climbed. Take Variant A and pass the Hourglass in favor of the rocks. This variant is suitable only when the rocks are free of snow, but in those conditions it is probably the safest way to go (AAJ 2-418; CAJ 24-123).

3. Wishbone Arete.
This W ridge is well seen from the Robson viewpoint on the Yellowhead Highway, the two branches joining some 500m below the summit. The right-hand branch, which gives the climbing route, lies to the left of the "Great Couloir" descending from the summit. August 1958, D. Claunch, H. Firestone, M. Sherrick. Continue on the Berg Lake Trail past the turnoff to the normal route, then strike directly up the rocky buttress that forms the lower continuation of the ridge. Alternatively, traverse (W) from the Robson Hut at the 2400m level on the "Yellow Bands." The lower section of the ridge is straightforward and parties usually bivouac near 2700m on the first day, after hiking up from Kinney Lake. In dry years there is seldom water on the arete or the direct approach to it. The principal rock climbing difficulties occur below the prominent notch, just before the junction of the Wishbone, while after the junction the angle eases. Should this upper section be icy, it constitutes the crux, otherwise rock scrambling. Underneath the summit the distinctive ice gargoyles are encountered; the ice cap is generally gained by a leftward diagonal traverse. 1- 1 1/2 days from high bivouac to top, with descent to Robson Hut; V, F6 (AAJ 10- 1, CAJ 39-92).

This notable climb was the scene of several attempts, the boldest that in 1913 by B. S. Darling, H. H. Prouty, W. Schauffelberger, who turned back in storm some 100m from the summit (CAJ 6-29).

4. Emperor Ridge.
This magnificent NW ridge rises above Emperor Falls on Robson River and was attempted many times before being climbed. The strongest early attempt was that in 1930 by L.O'Brien and R. L. M. Underhill, who turned back some 150m short of the summit (CAJ 19-73). The hard part of the ridge begins near 3700m where the pyramidal lower section (which has a right-leaning couloir roughly at its center) converges on the lower-angled summital ridge.

July 1961, R. Perla, T. M. Spencer. Robson River must be crossed, most easily in the flats just below Berg Lake, and then a choice of routes presents itself: up either the left (N) bounding the ridge of the pyramidal face (as in the FA), the face itself, or the right (W) bounding ridge (as in 1930, probably the easiest). In any case, a bivouac should be placed as high as possible (above 3000m) on the day of approach in order to have time for the difficulties to come. Once one reaches the point of convergence, the climbing involves going over, around and through the ice gargoyles of the long final ridge. The usual technique is to thread the rope between the formations to effect a running belay. Oddly, this upper section may be more reasonable under cloudy or even stormy conditions than on a warm, sunny day. V; a very long day from bivouac to Robson Hut (FA party bivouacked on summit) (CAJ 45-106).

5. N Face.
With its purity of line and directness of purpose, this elegant face may fairly claim to offer one of the finest ice routes in the Canadian Rockies. August 1963, P. Callis, D. Davis. The initial problem is to reach the Robson-Helmet col (3250m), in former times gained over the Dome from Robson Glacier. Nowadays there are two popular alternatives. 1) From NE end of Berg Lake work up scree slopes on the W side of Rearguard to gain the easy-angled N tongue of Berg Glacier between Rearguard and Waffl at about 2100m (this point can also be reached via Rearguard-Waffl col from Robson Glacier). Then pass under the N faces of Waffl and Helmet along the bench of Berg Glacier and gain the col. 2) Leave Berg Lake Trail at SE end of Lake, ford river, and round lake to S shore. Then go up scree slopes to meet the rocky buttress which lies to the right (W) of Berg Glacier and descends toward the lake. Climb the rock to the high glacier plateau and so to the col. It is advisable to camp on the W side of the col because of the usual wind at the col. The route goes up the ice slopes above, the line taken varying according to the conditions, and needs no further elaboration. In the early season, loose snow (avalanche danger) may overlay the ice; in late season blue ice is common. Approximately 800m of ice climbing at an average angle of 52º. IV, one long day,with usual descent down Kain route to camp at col (AAJ 14-64).

6. Fuhrer Ridge.
The ridge rises above Helmet Col and gives a classic route relatively free of objective danger. Recommended. July 1938, J. W. Carlson, W. R. Hainsworrh , H. Fuhrer. Reach the Robson-Helmer col as for N face and place a high camp. The initial 1/3 of the route is up snow/ice while in the upper section ice and snow covered rocks are encountered. The upper route lies in depressions between rock ribs and finally emerges into steep snow/ice on the N face just below the summit ridge. IV, F5; 20 h from Helmet col, 8 h in descent (some rappels) (CAJ 26-8; AAJ 3-287).

Variant.
July 1970, M. Bleuer party. Should the upper rocks be ice covered, a long right traverse can be made along a snow "bench" 1/3 of the way up and then the extreme left side of the N face ascended, thus joining the original route just below the summit ridge.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 14, 2014 - 06:56pm PT
Thanks a lot, Ed.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 15, 2014 - 03:59pm PT
The following pics are from a failed attempt on the Emperor Face by Doug Shepherd and Jess Roskelly


Special thanks to Doug Shepherd
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 15, 2014 - 09:31pm PT
ok. so, regarding the following three ascents of the emperor face, riddle me this:

logan + stump's 1978 ascent: summitless
kruk + walsh's 2010 ascent: summitless
mosnik + j. prezelj's 2002 ascent: summitless

vs.

l+s: one of the most respected first ascents in the history of canadian rockies alpinism.
k+w: while reported as not summiting, they received basically the same press coverage that a summiting new route would.
m+p: effectively ignored and forgotten, even though they followed what was to their knowledge a new route up the emperor face to the emperor ridge in a [for the time] blazingly fast 13 hrs.

what say you? petty regionalism? changing times? alpha dog tyrranny? something else?

or just a unique set of circumstances...



basically my question is, is the logan/stump still up for grabs?

hahahaha.

while i'm going to have to really up my game to have any hope, in case i can pull it off, i've already got my name picked out...

if i can summit via the l/s i'm going to rename it measurable annoyance...
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 16, 2014 - 03:03pm PT
EMPEROR FACE, Mt. Robson - Tony Dick (with Dave Cheesmond)

It seems absurd but our arrival at Mt. Robson represented a sort of failure. In the mid-summer storm of ’81 we South Africans had congregated in Alaska looking for the superb east spur of Mt. Deborah beneath 6ft. of snow. We were also looking for our unequaled supply of good and nutritious canned roast chickens and cashew nuts which were to be airdropped to us. In spite of strenuous efforts we never found the snacks until after the horrific hike out. They were waiting at the airstrip along with everyone else’s supplies. So we ate them in the van on the way down the Alaska Highway, and decided, next time we would bring some porters to carry our snacks.

Robson wasn’t really on our minds, only food, but the way it looms above that highway, you would have to be in worse shape than a Biafran not to leap out of the van and climb it. Try, at the very least.

We were so skinny we pretended not to see the Emperor Face, but went up the Wishbone Ridge instead, to try and get some strength up. Unfortunately while resting near the top of the hourglass on the descent, a serac fell off and knocked my pack down almost to the Ralph Forster hut. It was too warm to go after it as everything else was starting to fall down, so I spent the night up there in my shirtsleeves. During the night I noticed that it wasn’t too warm anymore!

Dave Cheesmond and I had one more big nosh on the way past our tent, and this time we felt we could notice the Emperor Face straight above. I had to catch a plane from Calgary in four days, so we set off in an afternoon hail storm and bivvied where the wall steepens up. It was as warm as South Africa up there so the noises kept us entertained all night.

All I remember of the next day on the wall is running for odd bits of cover. The stones were coming down everywhere, but most especially down the existing route, so we ran past it. But that evening we reached the freeze line. What a pleasure! Really an excellent bivvy, more of the Alaska snacks, and the views down to Berg Lake made it more than worthwhile.

From there on we enjoyed ourselves fully; steep ice gulleys and rock ribs, with the ice frozen up to hold the rock together nicely. Where the angle eased, the climbing got more serious, as there was little safety. We had one more bivvy on a tiny ledge we cut in the ice; happy as children. Next morning we soloed part of the way up to the gargoyles, but then roped in and out of these huge frozen waves, to reach the summit for lunch. Good meals were still one of our main concerns!

Then it was a stroll down to the hut were we spent the night, before an early morning rush to get to the airport in time. Even though I only spent that one week at Robson, its as large as life in my mind; right up there with my best memories of Dave.

Tony Dick


Special thanks to Tony Dick

Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 16, 2014 - 11:41pm PT
One thing at a time, Bruce
aguacaliente

climber
Dec 17, 2014 - 01:19am PT
Wow, brilliant, thanks Avery.

Never seen the mountain but wish to someday.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 17, 2014 - 02:22am PT
Way cool, Tony! Great story and photos. Thanks, Avery.
Patrik

climber
Bozeman, Montana
Dec 17, 2014 - 03:37pm PT
Early Alpine Adventure on the Emperor Face: The 1974 Callis-Kanzler Attempt
by Pat Callis.
Dedicated to Jim “Rathole” Kanzler

This has been a most enjoyable thread to read, and is an opportunity for me to describe the high quality climbing Jim Kanzler (affectionately known as “Rathole”, a nickname of humorous origin) and I enjoyed on one of our 3 trips to the Face. The main goal of the piece is to highlight Jim’s essential contributions to this attempt.

Although I must credit the late Dan Davis with boldly suggesting that we go to Robson in August 1963, it was on the trail heading back to the car that I snapped a photo of the Emperor Face, with the thought of attempting it sometime. Nine years later in late August 1972, I returned to have a go at it with Hank Abrons, who was passing through Montana, primarily to visit Gray Thompson, and was looking for a fitting adventure to add to his list of extreme alpine ascents after a 10-year hiatus while in medical school. I suggested the Emperor Face. We headed for the middle of the face, under warm, fairly dry conditions, but there was a continuous stream of rocks (about 10 per second) in the gully leading to what was to be named “The Jaws” by Jim Kanzler.

Returning in July 1973, this time with Jim, a fellow Bozemanite, close friend, and climbing partner from the day I arrived in Bozeman in 1968. Since that time, Jim had emerged as the local dominant hardman. Weather was again warm, and the Face was running wet snow this time.

The next year, serendipity rewarded us, as it does sometimes when you do something that makes no sense because of circumstances. Having only a 2-week time window, we headed to Berg Lake, along with Jim’s wife Lindalee, despite knowing that there had already been two weeks of cold rain, and it was still coming down. We arrived to see numerous avalanches pour down the Emperor. But soon the avalanches ceased, and we perceived that all snow had slid off the ice, leaving what were most likely safe, and possibly ideal conditions.

Because this was my 3rd attempt, I had been considering a less direct line closer to the N. face, where the difficulties began higher and seemed less severe. But Jim did not like that idea, and as we peered through the mist over Berg Lake, he picked out a line in mid face that he was felt strongly would go fine under these conditions. The line happened to head up the gully where Hank and I had turned back, and ultimately would have intersected what was to become the upper part of the Logan-Stump first ascent line. We naively perceived the Face that afternoon as an ice climb that would not require lengthy sections of steep rock—obviously a serious misjudgment. What we thought were ice runnels through cliff bands were sections of soft snow blown up into severe overhangs. We took only fifteen rock pins and no aiders, but were armed to the teeth with ice protection.

We were ready for a very early start the next day, but woke to socked in conditions, and went back to sleep. It was 11 am before bright sunlight on the tent woke us. Embarrassed to be faked out by low lying fog, we spent the rest of the day racing up into the Jaws, finding nearly perfect conditions and no rockfall whatsoever. After 4 pitches of moderate ice, Jim led a vertical pitch of waterfall ice just at dark, which was hard but a standard routine around Bozeman in the winter. We bivied there just above the large first cliff band.

The next day, we traded leads on pitches of 45-55 degree ice, with an occasional moderate mixed pitch. The day ended with short, stiff overhanging rock pitch, putting us at the bottom of a 300 ft rocky bowl where we bivied. The rock above looked moderate, but Jim soon found it to be very steep, slow going due to occasional stretches of aid. The next pitch went free, but was again slow due to our meager collection of rock pins. After a short pitch of moderate ice followed by more slow rock climbing, the reality of our poor choice of gear and amount of food became clear. We were moving three times slower than the previous day’s pace; we had to get off the Face. Although we probably had enough gear to retreat downward, each day was a bit warmer than the previous, and some occasional rocks whizzed by. Our photo of the face showed that the ice ledge just below our high point appeared to extend across the entire Face—from N. Face to Emperor Ridge. We chose to traverse to the N. Face because of my familiarity with that route. Fourteen pitches of belayed traversing on 55 degree ice, including our 3rd bivouac, brought us to where the photo of Jim shown in the 2nd post of this thread was taken. On the next pitch, Jim reached a point where the ice “ledge” we were following inverted. The overhanging, bad rock blocked further traversing, and I lowered Jim on one of our two 9 mm ropes to a short ledge 40 feet below. A 5.8 upward traverse to regain the escape ledge baited Jim into attempting it with his pack on, but it was wet and slick; Jim took a long swinging fall, very fortunately slamming into a jutting wall backwards, with the pack preventing possible injuries. Leaving his pack behind, he easily made it back to where our escape ledge led onward to the haven of our fourth bivi under a rock blob on the west margin of the N. Face. The next morning, we descended perfect snow down the lower 500 ft of the N. Face and on down to wonderful, lush greenery.
Understanding the problem much better, we asked Jeff Lowe and Mike Weiss to join us the following year for a much stronger attempt. (They were going to try it anyway.) This time, good weather did not coincide with our plans. The four of us did, however, enjoy some memorable parties and hilarious story-telling in the Berg Lake campground with Jim Elzinga and other Calgary climbers.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 17, 2014 - 03:48pm PT
Wow, cool story and great photos, Patrik - thanks for sharing.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 17, 2014 - 04:01pm PT
Many thanks Patrik: wonderful piece of climbing history.
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Dec 17, 2014 - 07:26pm PT
Welcome to Supertopo, Pat Callis! Thanks so much for your account of a route and climb I've long wondered about, ever since seeing your photo of Jim Kanzler in Chouinard's, "Climbing Ice". We're very fortunate to get such a firsthand account of this history.

What kind of ice tools and protection were you guys using? That was some hardcore climbing, especially considering the gear that was available then, compared with a decade or 3 later.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 18, 2014 - 10:58pm PT
Emperor Face, Infinite Patience. (3rd Ascent) Raphael Slawinski and Jay Mills

To read Raphael's entertaining account of the climb go to: http://raphaelslawinski.blogspot.ca/2012/10/infinite-patience.html


Special Thanks to Raphael Slawinski
Andy de klerk

Mountain climber
South Africa
Dec 19, 2014 - 11:17am PT
Great thread Avery. Thanks!
I just have to add a piece about where the South Africans were coming from -
Cheesemonds route descriptions were classically brief: "Start on the left and follow the obvious break to the top"
5000' later you wonder if you even climbed the same route!
Dave Cheesemond and Tony Dick did many stellar first ascents in South Africa in the 1970's and 1980's. Most of them have been repeated but they are all big outings on scary walls with bad rock with minimal info. Just before Cheesemond emigrated to Canada in the early 80's he wrote a "guidebook" called the "50 select climbs to the Western Cape". It's a bit of a joke, but that "guidebook" is now commonly known as the little white book of lies.
That guidebook spoke of a different era of climbing where things were not dished up on a plate for mass consumption and where climbers had to think for themselves.

What we have here is a different input generation, of guys that went into the hills in South Africa or Canada and who headed up into the unknown relying on only their skill, a little bit of luck, a lot of good judgement and a lot of balls. They just did it. Afterwards, there was no social media (other than in the pub with their mates), so they wrote up the routes as: "Start on the left and follow the obvious break to the top" because that was exactly what it was - obvious to them, and if the next guys want to repeat the route then don't expect a detailed topo. Follow your nose, use your skill like we did, and good luck!
This generation followed on directly from the Joe Brown and Don Whillans, and Hamish Mac Innes ethic of just do it, the working class British hard man notion of getting the job done no matter the adversity, and with minimal reporting afterwards.

Cheesemond, Dick, Lomax and Jameson shat off without the planned airdropped food on Mt Deborah. They had no food for 6 weeks and the hike out was epic.
They even resorted to trying to catch fish using a tent in the river so that the tiny fish would swim into the tent. They ate them raw. They survived, and they didn't tell the world about this because they didn't need to.

I had no idea that Cheesmond and Dick went on to climb the Emperor face that same summer straight after the Mt Deborah epic. Most of us would have gone home to recover. These guys are/were hardcore, forged from a generation that is rapidly disappearing, and I pay my respects because they have been seriously earned.

AdK
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 19, 2014 - 01:59pm PT
Thanks Andy, for a very thoughtful piece.

The thing that struck me most about my recent dealings with South African climbers, is there incredibly easygoing, friendly and helpful manner. I found it most refreshing and all to rare.

Along with Tobin Sorenson, Dave Cheesmond was a climber I would've loved to have met.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 19, 2014 - 02:12pm PT
Cheesmond used to include the odd error on his rock topos to keep the adventure up. A "step" left could be 20 feet or more. His memorial route "Creamed Cheese" in the Ghost River has a plaque installed at the start of the 4th pitch and was put up by his good friends Brian Gross and Choc Quinn. Dave had tried that route with Brian and Choc several times, getting part way up. Brian and Choc finished it off after it was known that Dave was not coming back.
Gillian, Dave's widow, suggested the name Creamed Cheese. The route is 1000 feet long on excellent rock with runouts of 80+ feet on solid 5.10 ground and had dicey belays. At least the 5.11 is relatively well protected. A true adventure climb.
Brian is the boldest rock climber I have ever climbed with and did stuff that would have impressed our California friends. I heard he was known as the rail machine back in Capetown. He would rather sail than climb now.
Gregg Cronn

Mountain climber
Bellingham
Dec 19, 2014 - 05:53pm PT
Thank you Tony Dick for the photos/story from the Emperor Face. .

I loved seeing Dave in his full plaid glory. He took great pride in wearing ratty looking gear. Even when he got free gear there was always a layer of wool plaid as you can see from the photo I have included. Damn I miss that guy and the pure love of climbing and adventure he possessed. It was never a boring trip with Dave. One of my favorite times was spending the day searching out Shipton's campsite from the '30's in the Shakskam River Valley on our K2 trip. We took Shipton's book with us and were able to find the campsite by comparing the pictures with the terrain. He was so excited to find artifacts/trash/tent plateforms and the fire ring from 50 years previous. That is the way it was with him. Instead of sitting around and resting at base camp, it was, "Hey man, let's piss up the valley and find Shipton's campsite."

(Apologies for the thread drift!)
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 19, 2014 - 06:53pm PT
No apologies required, Gregg. Dave Cheesmond is the very essence of Canadian Alpinism. Love that pic!
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 19, 2014 - 08:13pm PT
Dave deserves a thread of his own. He was an incredible climber but more importantly a great guy full of enthusiasm. Few people realized how much hard climbing he did in a 6 year span, all accomplished while working as an engineer.
Great photo Gregg
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 21, 2014 - 12:27am PT
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 21, 2014 - 08:40pm PT
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 21, 2014 - 10:36pm PT
This is pure guesswork, Bruce, but I think "The Jaws" has to be near my red marks.

No doubt I'll be proven wrong!

Cheers


Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 22, 2014 - 12:13am PT
You are correct, Avery.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 22, 2014 - 12:20am PT
Thanks Clint.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 22, 2014 - 02:08pm PT
So Walsh-Kruk and Callis-Kanzler both climbed into and thru the Jaws?
Yes.
Oplopanax

Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Dec 23, 2014 - 11:26am PT
Speaking of the "spiral road", the route detailed by Greg Horne (i think?) in a late-90s CAJ whereby you start at the hut on the S face and circle around the east side of the mountain to end up on the Kain Face has always seemed to warrant the moniker.
Brandon P

Mountain climber
Canmore
Dec 27, 2014 - 10:04pm PT
I have been working on a book with Urs Kallen for a decade about routes such as this. It is called the Bold and Cold and was started with Dave Cheesmond in 1985. It will be out in the summer. There are 25 routes, it is the ultimate tick list. Rock on.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Dec 28, 2014 - 05:14am PT
This is awesomeness!
Thank you Avery!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 30, 2014 - 05:43pm PT
nice aerial shot of Infinite Patience in particular, by John Scurlock
from
http://www.pbase.com/nolock/image/108188312

another interesting angle, by John Scurlock
from
http://www.pbase.com/nolock/image/97208532
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 30, 2014 - 06:32pm PT
Simply the best! Thanks Clint.
Avery

climber
NZ
Jan 7, 2015 - 05:01pm PT
Mt Robson, Emperor Face: Colin Haley and Steve House, cont...


Thanks to Colin Haley
Avery

climber
NZ
Mar 15, 2015 - 02:19pm PT
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