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Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 13, 2014 - 11:27pm PT
The Cold - Dance Review
Winter Ice Climbing and its Techniques on Kitchener
Jeff Lowe
“To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free…”
— Bob Dylan
Part I — Winter Waltzes
THE dance really started during the winters of 1971 and 1972. Up to that time winter ice climbing in the United States had been a timid affair at best, with climbs such as McCarthy’s ascent of Pinnacle Gully on Mount Washington, without chopping steps, marking the limit of adventure. People were aware of the potential for climbing even vertical ice with the new, curved “cheating sticks,” yet no one had had the audacity necessary to complete the ascent of a big, steep winter icefall. In March of 1971, however, my brother Greg capped days of practice bouldering on vertical ice with the climb of an obscure but important route on Mahlen’s Peak waterfall in northern Utah. Belayed by a partner who seconded on Jümars, he led the 350-foot climb in four pitches. The first pitch is 130 feet of 70° to 90° ice, andthe second pitch is about 75 feet of 50° climbing. But it was on the third lead that a new standard of free-climbing difficulty on ice was established. Over 200 feet off the ground, one is faced with 60 feet of dead vertical climbing, which in turn is topped by 15 feet of gently impending ice; the ice forms an overhanging bulge as it flows over the lip of a large ledge in the underlying rock.
In the 1971 issue of Ascent, Yvon Chouinard wrote about the “Black Gully, Cannon Mountain. A black, filthy, horrendous icicle, 600 feet high, unclimbed.” In the winter of 1972, John Bouchard started up using a self-belay. However, since the ice was rapidly melting, he soon stopped belaying and continued the climb unprotected. Several hours later he climbed the last of the bulges to arrive at the top of this climb that had so impressed one of America’s best mountaineers.
That same winter Pat Callis and Jim Kanzler and others in Montana were learning the two-step-and-thunk on the Blue and Green Gullies in Hyalite Canyon. In Colorado, too, people were learning the brittle dance, while out in the Valley fugitives from the rock races began shuffling around, crampon shod and with ice axes in hand. Where previously an overgrown cloud of caution had filled the skies of American ice climbing, a new adventurous attitude was blowing in on the winds of a personal understanding of what is possible. Many of those who had tried the colddance were extremely jazzed about the possibility of making great crystal climbs heretofore scarcely dreamed of.
The next winter was a time of maturation of techniques and consolidation of the gains already made. The small ranks of active ice climbers began to swell, but no new climbs were made that surpassed the Black Gully or Mahlen’s Peak waterfall in overall boldness, beauty, or difficulty of technical performance required. Mike Weis and I had both been introduced to the possibilities of steep waterfall climbing by my brother in 1972, and by December of 1973 we felt ready to try something really big. Our first inclination was to make an attempt on the Widow’s Tears, a 900-foot waterfall in Yosemite Valley with an average angle of about 75°, but calls to the Valley informed us that there was no ice. However, we knew of a fall closer to our home stomping grounds. Bridalveil Fall, in Telluride, Colorado, is only half the height of the Tears, but much steeper. On completion of the climb on January 2, 1974, we had to admit that it had been a good introduction to a new sort of ice climb. Mike and I knew from experience that the brittle ice produced by weeks of sub-zero temperatures would not allow tube screws to be placed, or wart hogs to be driven, without completely cracking up. So we made some pitons out of tubular chromemoly stock and bevelled the tips to the inside. These we found worked very well, fracturing the ice only slightly as they were driven in and freezing solidly in place. Their only drawback was the necessity for chopping them out. With these for protection we pushed the free climbing to our limits and managed to free-climb the entire icefall, only taking rests from pitons in a couple of places. Mike led the crux, which was a three-foot roof with giant icicles drooping from the lip. For 20 feet he climbed the slightly overhanging wall below the roof and then knocked a hole in the curtain of icicles. Next he delicately bridged between the base of icicles on either side of the hole, got the pick of his axe in above the overhang and muscled his way up. Following, it seemed equivalent to 5.10 rock climbing. We were both laughing and amazed at our success when we reached the top; we now knew we would never have to consider any ice climb in terms of aid.
At this point let’s break away from a chronological recitation of American events, and look in on the dance they’re doing up north in the Canadian Rockies, where the music of commitment does not play so loudly. The technique used for climbing steep ice in Canada is best described by its originator, Bugs McKeith: “ faced by pillars of brittle, vertical ice, and lacking the guts to front-point up them, I had attached aid-slings to the shafts of both Terrodactyls and had found that, even on vertical ice, I could relax and spend as much time as I wished clearing rotten ice and placing each axe alternately to my complete satisfaction.” * All the big Canadian climbs have utilized this technique, as well as fixed ropes and what is much worse, bolts on some belays. The aid techniques and fixed ropes don’t bother me much; they’re simply slow and unenjoyably, like climbing in leg irons and trailing a rope that’s anchored in fear. But they cause no damage to the mountain, and are therefore a matter of personal choice. The bolts, however, are a different matter. After the pioneer ascent, bolts on an ice climb are not always available for subsequent use, as they are on rock. This is because most icefalls form differently from season to season and even from week to week in the same season. Thus the bolt may be buried under thick ice, unseen and unreachable, during heavy icing, or unreachable and in the wrong place when there is less ice than that encountered on the first ascent. Is each new party to place a new set of bolts, then? That’s absurd, of course, and destructive and degrading to the climb. If a climb can’t be done without resorting to such tactics, then I don’t think it should be made. The big climbs in the Rockies all await first free ascents, and many await first clean ascents, i.e., without the use of bolts.
It’s heartening to know that no bolts have been placed on important American ice routes, so that a strong tradition of adventure is developing. Take for example this year’s best ice climb: Kevin Worral’s and Mark Chapman’s first ascent of Widow’s Tears. After numerous attempts they finally found climbable conditions and in three days of free climbing with two bivouacs on the climb, they completed America’s most beautiful ice climb. They carried no bolts, and this was only the second or third ice climb for either of them! This was the first first-ascent of a Scottish grade 6 accomplished in one continuous push. Another climb made in this style was the Keystone Green Steps, near Valdez, Alaska. John Weilund and I started this 600-foot climb, which consists of six pitches of 75° to 90° ice,on the last day of 1975, and made one bivouac. So the cold-dance is in full swing. From Frankenstein Cliff to June Lake, from Colorado to Alaska, climbers are waltzing on front points in greater and greater numbers.
And the name of the tune they’re dancing to is: DON’T FALL OFF THE FLOOR.
Part 11— the Alpine Ballroom
Climbing frozen waterfalls offers the ice climber the same sort of opportunity to sharpen his technique as crag climbing offers the rock climber. But to the alpinist the skills and strength gained on the waterfall are primarily important in their application to major new routes in the high mountains. Actually, normal alpine ice climbing becomes easier for one who has trained on winter icefalls. The proof of this is the first solo ascent of the Black Ice Couloir on the Grand Teton, made by my brother Greg the summer following his ascent of Mahlen’s Peak waterfall. And John Bouchard used his experience on the Black Gully to good advantage this summer on his solo climb on the north face of the Grands Charmoz, and on his new solo route this summer on the north face of the Grand Pilier dAngle, on Mont Blanc, one of Europe’s most impressive ice walls. Yvon Chouinard and Mike Covington used their winter experience to advantage on the first direct ascent of the Diamond Couloir on Mount Kenya, which has several pitches of nearly vertical ice. In fact Americans experienced in winter ice climbing had one of the best seasons ever in the Alps.
At the same time in the Canadian Rockies, Mike Weis and I were aided by the confidence acquired on Bridalveil Falls and other winter ice climbs in the ascent of a hard new route on the north face of Mount Kitchener. The account of this climb may serve to illustrate that blend of objective hazard, subjective trauma, and technical difficulty that must be overcome in the ascent of a modern alpine ice route. The story of the first ascent of the 3500-foot north face of Mount Kitchener has already been told in the pages of this journal. (A .A .J, 1972, 18:1, pages 66-9.) For those involved, the “Ramp Route,” as I call it, was a terribly satisfying experience, and a difficult climb in its own right. But for me at least, the face held an even greater attraction—the great central couloir that falls from the broad summit of the mountain like the tail of a white comet. I doubt if anywhere else in the Rockies there is a couloir of equal size that is at once so beautiful, and steep, and singularly imposing. Perhaps I should add dangerous as well, for it is the natural path for rockfall. Indeed, on my first encounter with the slopes below the couloir, in August of 1970, with my cousin, George Lowe, the weather was warm and the couloir rumbled with the noise of traffic as heavy as Grand Central Station on Christmas Eve. Since that time I have always thought of the big gully as the Grand Central Couloir. For several years following the climb of the Ramp Route yearly attempts on the Grand Central Couloir were made. Brian Greenwood, George Homer, and Bob Beal managed to work a way up the ice and rock buttress to the left of the couloir in 1973. This was actually an attempt on the couloir, but rockfall forced them to follow a more protected line. Then in the winter of 1975 at least two determined attempts were made, doubtless in the hopes that the winter cold would reduce the rockfall. In the end the short winter days, brittle ice, and avalanches confined both attempts to the lower half of the face. Such was the state of affairs when Mike Weis and I arrived at the Ice field’s Campground in mid-August. We were back for yet another of our annual attempts. On our first try this year our now traditional bad luck held, and a snowstorm caught us before we crossed the bergschrund. Soon the avalanches were roaring and we were doing a quick-step to get down out of their range. Several days later we were back at it. This time the weather looked as if it might hold. We had also adopted new tactics. We carried minimal food, water, and bivouac gear. Starting up at six P.M., we planned to climb through the night with headlamps and finish the following day. By climbing at night we hoped to be above the zone of bad rockfall by the time the morning sun hit the top of the face. The real climbing began to the left of the lower of the two bergschrunds of the small hanging glacier at the bottom of the wall. The bergschrund itself was impassable without undue exertions. Climbing on ice and rotten snow over ice, we climbed unroped, each with his own thoughts, for four or five hundred feet to about the level of the upper “schrund.” At this point the ice got very hard. Mike cried “uncle,” so we got out the rope. I’ll have to say that I welcomed the added security, too. While the features of the huge amphitheatre at the top of the face gradually darkened to a ragged silhouette, for six or seven ropelengths we moved simultaneously but with two screws between us for safety. At the top of the right-hand rognon in the lower icefield, we had a bite to eat and drink and prepared our headlamps for the dark hours ahead. I said I thought we would bag the climb this time, but Mike cautiously reminded me that “We’ve barely gotten started.” From that point on we belayed each pitch. While the leader stomped slowly up with vision limited to the small circle of light projected by his headlamp, the belayer had time for reflection. To spur his thoughts, he could gaze into the infinite darkness of the valley or peer up at the starry sky, his headlamp turned off to save on batteries. For a while the Aurora Borealis flashed. Then, as the gully narrowed and steepened, we bumped into the lowest of two or three polypropylene lines, remnants of an attempt the previous winter. The eastern sky began to lighten. At the vertical narrowing of the upper couloir, it was six A.M. and full light. We were at the top of the fifteenth roped pitch. The next pitch looked as though it had been borrowed from a hard Scottish gully. It was my lead. Initially it was almost a chimney. I could bridge with the left crampon on rock and the other on ice, while using the axe to whatever advantage it could be put. This moderate going came to an end all too soon. The couloir widened and forced me to climb the thin face of ice and snow directly. With only knifeblades between frozen blocks for protection, the climbing was extremely nerve-wracking. Seldom would the tools penetrate more than half an inch before meeting rock. The crux was climbing out from under an ice mushroom, crammed into the couloir like a huge marshmallow. It took a couple of hours before I had a hanging belay from wart hogs in the rock at the side of the couloir. We had no jümars or hauling rope. Even with his 30-pound pack, after a couple of pendulums from underneath the ice mushroom, Mike pulled himself over the bulge by amazing brute strength. The angle eased now, to a “mere” 65°. The ice was thick and held our points well; we made quicker progress for several pitches. Then we came against the final section of the upper couloir, which had looked well-iced from below but turned out to be steep compact rock, thinly veneered with snow. Luck was with us; we found a narrow ice gully leading out to the right onto the rib that borders the couloir. Several hard leads of mixed snow and ice with one or two short but hard rock steps brought us out onto the summit ice cap, just 200 feet short of our goal. In our thirsty and fatigued condition, time had moved faster than we. Our thirst was greater than our fatigue. With the air scratching at our throats, we climbed the last pitches. The first pitch was ice at a moderate angle, and the other a vertical path on rotten snow through the summit cornice. The last few feet had been as difficult as any and were an exhausting capper to 26 hours of intense climbing. It was eight P.M. when Mike and I stood side by side in the sun’s horizontal rays on top.
Then we turned, and with the sun a shimmering red disc at our backs we wobbled through deep snow toward the East Ridge, which was our descent route. We still had several hours to go before we could rest and drink much needed water that trickled from a snowfield in the saddle below the small peak known as K2.
The best dances are sometimes marathons.

Summary of Statistics:
Subject : Various winter ice climbs, their techniques and application to big, alpine ice ascents.

New Route : Mount Kitchener, Canadian Rockies, Grand Central Couloir on North Face, August 1975 (Jeff Lowe, Michael Weis).


http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12197632600/The-Cold-Dance-Review-Winter-Ice-Climbing-and-Its-Techniques-on-Kichener

Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 13, 2014 - 11:36pm PT
Thanks Jim, marvelous pics. I can only hope you have more.

Your right, I'll have to make it there some day.
I spent the best part of 20 years obsessed with NZ mountains. To put it bluntly, I grew tired of them: hence my interest in Kitchener, Alberta and Robson.
I can't see me making it to the Rockies in the immediate future, but you never know....
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 13, 2014 - 11:41pm PT
if someone starts a "buy Avery a flight to the canadian rockies" kickstarter, i'm in for $20.

all i want in return is a sweet tr...



and a postcard...



and maybe a t-shirt...

tell you what, get me all of the above and i'm in for a hundy...



as far as this thread goes i'm hoping someone can get joe josephson to pull up a chair...
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
Dec 14, 2014 - 07:09am PT
Bump for proper climbing content!
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 14, 2014 - 10:34am PT
I think Greenwood wrote an article about Kellogs to make sure no one ever tried to repeat it.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 14, 2014 - 01:22pm PT
been poking around a bit, and the gcc sure was the next big thing in the canadian rockies for a few years...

after the north face of mt. kitchener was first climbed via the ramp route in aug. of 1971, by chris jones, gray thompson and jeff lowe there was series of attempts on the grand central couloir by strong teams:

as Bruce mentioned brian greenwood, george homer and bob beal made a successful first ascent of a route to the left of the gcc in 1973 after they were pushed away from their original intent of the gcc by rockfall.

also from jeff lowe's ice world it appears a party including greg lowe made an attempt on the gcc in 1973.

charlie porter and adrian burgess made an attempt probably in late 1974. this was just after porter's first ascent with bugs mckeith of polar circus. [interesting side note: originally porter was calling that escapade a polish circus, and bugs changed the name to polar circus after the climb...] porter had this to say about their attempt on the gcc in an interview for rock and ice:

First a chinook came in and everything melted so we had to come back down. Later I went up with Adrian and Alan, and partway up, Alan’s ingrown toenail started bothering him, so we went down. Adrian and I made it up into the narrows of the couloir – quite a ways up – before my ice axe broke and all our ice screws started breaking because it was so cold. After enough equipment had broken, I said, “Let’s go down and get some better equipment.” Just as we were rapping out, this huge avalanche swept the whole gully with snow and rocks. We were very lucky to have come down when we did.

Aid and Al are very fit climbers who’d had a lot of experience in the Alps, more than the rest of us did at that time. They knew what it was like to be on a big face like Kitchener. It was very instructive climbing with them.

jeff lowe's book also seems to imply there was another party that made an attempt the same year that he and weis ended up making their successful first ascent...



between porter's account above, and a mention by steve shea here on supertopo [about a near avy miss while they were attempting the second ascent], and it's easy to see that the name grand central couloir wasn't [and isn't] even a little bit of an exaggeration...
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 14, 2014 - 02:16pm PT
yah, that'd be the one...

only thing i can find in print is this slightly over the top account from the bozeman daily chronicle:

One of his most memorable climbs was the Grand Central Couloir on Mt. Kitchener in the Columbia Ice Fields on the Alberta-British Columbia border - a climb he did solo.

On the way up, he climbed "The Narrows."

"You get in the upper gully and it's a great gully up there," Josephson said.

Then, only 300 feet from the summit, he fell 50 feet. Yet he managed to summit the face by securing himself to the mountain with a rope.



before i happened across the above while googling, i had always thought joe's infamous solo fall had happened on the top of super couloir on deltaform...

grand central, super... tomahto, tomayto... hahaha...



would still like to hear the rest of the story from the horse's mouth though.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Dec 14, 2014 - 03:04pm PT
Amazing pic of Mike
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Dec 14, 2014 - 04:00pm PT
Tobin Sorenson and Jack Roberts did the first einter ascent (I think). Good article in Climbing mag about that.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 14, 2014 - 04:01pm PT
The funniest part of JoJo's solo is the note that Bubba left on his windshield driving by to check in on him.

I won't even try to paraphrase it and need to get JoJo to fill that detail in.

Plenty of good tales from the Ramp Route too I suspect so it might be worth broadening the discussion.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 14, 2014 - 04:21pm PT
Tobin Sorensen

"Witlessly Bold, Heroically Dull," Feature on Mount Kitchener, Canada

Climbing 58 page 14

Tarbuster said he'd post the article when the time is right
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1856207&msg=1857811#msg1857811

actually Avery posted the article here:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2480799&msg=2481129#msg2481129

he could just put in the photo links for this thread too
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 14, 2014 - 04:25pm PT
I've contacted JoJo and he's busy for the next few weeks. But I'm confident he'll contribute something when he has the time.
I agree with Steve, lets include the Ramp Route from now on.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 14, 2014 - 04:38pm PT
Kitchener: Tobin Sorenson and Jack Roberts
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 14, 2014 - 04:46pm PT
from the 1985 Seventh Edition of The Rocky Mountains of Canada North by Robert Kruszyna and William L. Putnam.


MOUNT KITCHENER (3480m)

3.5 km N of Snow Dome.
FA July 1927, A. J. Ostheimer, H. Fuhrer. W Slopes. Approach via Athabasca Glacier. An easy ascent, but good as a ski mountaineering objective (CAJ 16-21).

Note: The FA was part of a remarkable tour de force. At 1:00 A.M., they left a camp in the E fork of the Athabasca River, climbed the Columbia N Glacier and icefall to the Icefield (11:00 A.M.); North Twin (7:00 P.M.); Stutfield Peak (9:00 P.M.); Mount Kitchener (midnight); Snow Dome (4:00 A.M.) and were headed for Mount Columbia when worsening weather caused them to return to camp (midday), 36 non-stop hours after leaving it.

2. NE Face/Right.
As one approaches the Columbia Icefields from the N, along the Banff-Jasper Highway, the brooding NE face of Mount Kitchener dominates the scene, much as the N face of Mount Temple towers over the Lake Louise area. August 1971, C. Jones, J. Lowe, G. Thompson. Cross the Sunwapta River at a narrow gorge just below the upper gravel flats and go over a shoulder into the basin below the face (5 h). A rock buttress splits the 1200m face into two ice slopes, of which the right is taken. Cross the schrund on either extremity and climb easily to ice slope proper. Ice extends some 600m, then 2 rock pitches lead to rightward-trending ice ramp. Follow ramp to summit. A very serious undertaking; 2 bivouacs on FA. V, F7 (AAJ 18-66).

3. NE Face/Rock Pillars.
July 1972, B. Beale, G. Homer, B. Greenwood, R. Wood. This route lies on rock immediately to left of the left-hand ice slope. Approach as for route above. Cross schrund at E extremity and ascend snow/ice, initially, keeping just to side of rock. Once on upper ice slope, traverse-to rock on left, which is frequently steep and demanding, and of variable quality. Near summit, traverse left to avoid verglas-coated rock. V; 2 bivouacs on FA.

4. E Ridge.
July 1955, F. D. Ayres, D. G. Claunch, R. K. Irvin. From toe of Athabasca Glacier cross moraine and ascend Dome Glacier. Gain a prominent saddle on E ridge over tedious scree slopes. Continue up an elegant snow/ice ridge to an unexpected and invisible 25m gap. Descend out-shelving ledges, then cross cornice (au cheval) to opposite wall (piton). Climb steep, loose pitch to summit snow. 7 h from parking area; II, F4 (AAJ 10-123).
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 14, 2014 - 05:19pm PT
Thanks a lot, Ed.
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Dec 14, 2014 - 06:33pm PT
John Lauchlan and Jim Elzinga(?) did the first winter ascent via the ramp route. Could have been 1978. Tobin and Jack's trip was later but truly amazing -35C
Hopefully JoJo will tell us some stories.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Dec 14, 2014 - 09:04pm PT
Great article by Tobin Sorensen on his ascent with Jack Roberts. Thanks, Avery. BTW, Adrian Burgess' twin brother is named Alan. Not sure if Alan or Phil Burgess, no relation, was on the first aborted winter attempt of the GCC.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Dec 15, 2014 - 02:46pm PT
a synopsis of what's known... so far:

[All?] Routes on and Early Ascents of the N. Face of Mt. Kitchener:
1. Ramp Route: C. Jones, J. Lowe, + G. Thompson [Aug. 1971]
..... FWA: J. Elzinga + J. Lauchlan [1977]
..... M. Chapman + R. Kauk [Sep. 1977]
2. Rock Pillars Route: B. Beale, B. Greenwood, G. Homer + R. Wood [Jul. 1972]
3. Grand Central Couloir: J. Lowe + M. Weis [Aug. 1975]
..... FWA: J. Roberts + T. Sorenson [Jan. 1978]
..... J. Dockery + D. Jenkins [Summer 1979]
..... B. Blanchard + K. Doyle [24 hr. push in 1981]
..... SWA: C. Buhler + G. Cronn [Jan. 1983]
4. Rights of Passage: E. Dumerac + P. Pellet [Oct. 2002]
..... SA: B. Firth, G. Thaczuk + E. Walsh [Jul. 2003]

Published Solos of Grand Central Couloir:
Frank Jourdan [July 1994]
Joe Josephson [1994]
Chris Brazeau: bivy to bivy in 6 hrs! [early 00's?]

Some Early Attempts of Grand Central Couloir:
George Lowe + J. Lowe [1970]
C. Jones + G. Thompson [1971]
Greg Lowe + party [summer 1973]
Adrian Burgess + C. Porter [end of 1974 or beginning of 1975]
L. Bruce + S. Shea [Aug. 1978]
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 15, 2014 - 03:43pm PT
Excellent stuff, nah000,
Don't know what I'd do without your help.
steve shea

climber
Dec 16, 2014 - 07:27am PT
Ya, Larry and I tried it August. All of our prior summer Rockies trips had good alpine conditions and we had hoped this would be no different.

We did the approach and bivied on a giant erratic near the base. We did the usual alpine start and were climbing by 1 or 2am. We were using a 90m nine mil and belayed some and moved together with running belays at other times.

I remember not feeling right after just a few hundred feet. Too warm. But we pushed on hoping it was colder up high. We moved slowly, not really sure we should go on. But neither one of us said anything. We got near the headwall and the traverse right. By this time it was clearly melting and very dangerous. Water was dripping off the headwall, we could hear water percolating under the ice we were climbing on. It was just way warm for an alpine climb. So we stopped and with little discussion started to rappel off.

We had an uneventful descent. Once the decision was made we could not wait to get off. We finished our last rappel over the little bergschrund and beat it back to our bivy site. I remember it was just about dawn so we tried to sleep. Just 30 minutes later the entire lower ice/snow field let go. Some of the deposition ran right up to our boulder. The surface we had just spent the last few hours on was now at our feet. What was neve and grey water ice was now black ice all the way to the headwall.

We left with no regrets except for the lousy warm season in the Canadian Rockies. We went to Jasper and tried to empty several bars of Kokanee. We congratulated ourselves on a decision well made based on prior alpine experience. For surely we'd be under that debris. I have never been back to the Rockies for summer alpine climbing. It used to be so good. We used to call it "the poor man's alps". It was much cheaper than going to Europe and the mixed and ice was as good or better with huge mountains and big north walls. The rock not so good. But if it was cold it was as good as it gets.
steve shea

climber
Dec 16, 2014 - 08:06am PT
Bruce, I agree. At the time we were young and on top of our game and certainly pushed it at times. Once we realized we had stepped into it on the GCC, our experience kicked in, and like you should not be here. I can only thank my attention to the isotherme learned in France, where the freezing level can go up and down like a yo yo. Because the conditions were sinker soft, it would have been easy to go on.

Your post up thread about gutter routes capped with cornices is so true. Thinking back on it, our GCC experience did slow me down.

I did have some great times in the Rockies. Anyone wanting alpine experience, it is a great and rewarding place to climb.
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Dec 16, 2014 - 08:13am PT

loved that Sorenson article, thanks for posting that!
steve shea

climber
Dec 16, 2014 - 08:38am PT
The only photo is in my mind's eye. The image most etched into my head is that thousands of feet of dark, ugly black ice. The day before it looked so enticing.

The Columbia Icefields is the only place I have been where my Thommens measured high pressure and it would be snowing. What a place!

Ya, use the tale!
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Dec 16, 2014 - 12:29pm PT
Just how much writing did Tobin do? I don't recall seeing that article before. Pretty powerfull.
Gregg Cronn

Mountain climber
Bellingham
Dec 16, 2014 - 03:52pm PT
"Tobin Sorenson and Jack Roberts stopped in Seattle and did a hugely attended slide show at the UW's Kane Hall on their way back from Canada. Jack Roberts was in a wheel chair, and must have been on a little pain medication because there was a little slurring and some confusing dialogue. Can't fault him though, he couldn't walk because of the pain."

Carlos (Buhler) and I did the second winter ascent in Jan. of '83. What is funny about the above quote is that I wanted to do the climb in a day and Carlos had a pretty good response: "No way I am going without my sleeping bag, I saw Robert's in a wheelchair in Seattle after his attempt in a day." There is a reason Carlos climbed so many peaks and is still around to talk about it.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 17, 2014 - 04:18pm PT
The North Face of Mount Kitchener

CHRISTOPHER A. G. JONES

“IT looks bad … it’s a steep mother”. “Yeah, you won’t catch this baby up there”.

Chouinard, Faint and I scratched ourselves, shook our heads knowingly, got back in the old Chevy and headed up to the Columbia Ice-fields.

“What peak is it anyway?”

“I think it’s the Snow Dome, but I’m not sure”.

In 1970, three years later, I was in Canada again. Once more we stopped at the Tangle Creek turn-out and gazed at the gruesome wall. It still looked bad, but now we knew its name: Mount Kitchener. I was definitely interested in a closer look, but had other climbing plans for that year. On my return to the States I heard that George Lowe and his cousin Jeff had been on the face but were turned back by rockfall. The face was becoming known; we had to move soon.

In 1971 Gray Thompson and I made another trip to Canada and now Kitchener stood out as our obvious first choice. Not only was it, perhaps, the last of the major unclimbed faces along the Banff-Jasper highway, it was quite possibly the finest of them all: “the greatest of the roadside crags” as we dubbed it.

During early July the rain and snow fell pitilessly, but an optimistic weather report soon had us camped on the moraine beneath Kitchener. The face was so plastered in snow that we decided to allow a day for the worst of it to slough off. In the early afternoon an avalanche swept the center of our route, which, we reasoned, now made it safe. The route appeared to have three sections — a lower-angled area to the top schrund, a long ice slope, and the fearful ice gully at the top. By going very light and without bivouac gear and by relying on front pointing, we hoped to climb the face in a day and bivouac on the descent. Due to the rockfall problem we chose the left of the two ice couloirs and set the alarm for midnight.

For me there is an almost magical atmosphere in early alpine starts. I cannot help feeling a common bond between all the other climbers who are also setting out in the cold morning with us. Perhaps in Peru, Alaska, the Tetons or the Sierra Nevada. We are all part of this strange mystique, just as surely as it is part of us.

The early sun reached us as we began climbing in earnest. We realized later that we had crossed the top schrund too far to the left and were having to climb steep ice instead of the lower-angled central part of the face. On the rock powder snow had to be cleared off all the holds and the protection was less than bad. Finally we reached the main ice slope and found incredibly hard black ice. Swinging the ice axe from one hand and an ice hammer from the other we clawed our way up. This was so mentally and physically exhausting that we edged towards the rock buttress splitting the two ice slopes. Our proposed ice gully gave no signs of leaning back, but rather looked worse and worse and, to add to its horrors, the most significant rockfalls came spitting and whirring out of its icy guts. In contrast we were now at the foot of the rock buttress, which would at least be safe from rockfall from above. We had noticed snow on the buttress, and so decided that it was fairly low-angled; little did we know. Route-finding by the “lesser of two evils” approach, we chose the buttress and were immediately slowed down as we struggled with a mixture of steep rock, ice, rotten rock covered by snow, snow mushrooms, general difficulty and poor protection. I believe they call it “mixed climbing”. Time dissolved and a bivouac was inevitable. All the ledges were piled with spring snow, but here Gray had a master stroke — instead of clearing a ledge we would dig a snow hole. This not only kept us busy-until 11 o’clock, it also conserved much of our meager heat supply. We shivered a large part of the night, rubbed each others feet the rest. It was pretty grim, yet without our hole it would have been a lot grimmer. A night to remember!

Ahead I kept believing the next step would see us over the worst, but it never did. The buttress consisted of vertical pillars interspersed with ledges, the whole often loose and plastered with snow and ice. Some rock pillars had no cracks, forcing us to traverse, while the ice was often too thin to take pitons. This was some of the most demanding climbing we had ever come up against. To add to our problems our original supply of rock pins had dwindled to half and now stood at three. In the mid-afternoon I led up an ice chimney, continued on steep ice and finally placed my last rock pin in shattered rock, leading thirty feet to a smooth, crackless wall. My plan was to use a snow cornice that lay against the wall and chimney up between wall and cornice. Happily the total lack of protection and shaky nature of the enterprise caused me to go back, belay, and wait for Gray and the other two pitons. Gray climbed to my high point, tried the moves, and then gave me a resigned look, “Chris, there’s no way we can make this lead — it just won‘’t go”.

We were beaten by sheer difficulty. It was impossible to go on. Well, let us say impossible for us. Now Cesar would probably have hung in there, would have gained strength with each successive bolt and piton. But not old Gray and I — we were just two likely lads with a handful of pitons, two candy bars and an ice axe. Old timers. Alpine Club types. It was home for us: if we could make it.

By now it was four o’clock and retreat to our ice cave too complex to consider. The only way down was to rappel into the right-hand ice slope and hope we had both enough pins to make it down and enough daylight to avoid a bivouac on the ice slope. Making full 150-foot rappels from rope loops, rock pins and all our ice pins it was touch and go all the way. I was ready to sacrifice Gray’s axe to the cause had we needed it, but, as in all the stories, we cleared the schrund with our final rappel. We staggered into camp about midnight.

Knowing that we had given midnight as our check-in time we left camp early the following morning. At the road-head we met an anxious Hans Fuhrer, Park Warden at the Columbia Ice-fields. Hans was dressed in climbing gear and ready with a rescue team to fly in and look for us. It was embarrassing to have caused so much trouble, yet it was really reassuring to know that Hans had been keeping a watchful eye on us.

After this effort I was about as beat up as my crampons — the front points had buckled under. Gray went back to work while I migrated to the Interior Ranges. As soon as possible we hoped to get back on Kitchener, it really appealed to us.

By good luck I now met up and climbed with Jeff Lowe, and on learning that Kitchener had been his principal objective for the summer, I suggested that he join Gray and me when conditions looked right. The Canadian summer was indecently warm, with negligible freezing at night. When we met at the Ice-fields in mid-August, the continual hot weather made us put off the climb once more; we did not want to be caught in a shooting gallery. By late August there was still no sign of a cooling trend. In desperation we decided to go and look at the wall. It was now or never for this year. We hiked in and next day sat under the face listening for stonefall. The mountain was reasonably quiet, and there was a cool wind — we were on our way for real.

Since our last attempt we were convinced that the less rock we climbed the better. We therefore chose the right of the two ice slopes, at the exit of which an ice ramp led to the top. This time we also carried a bivouac tent, sleeping bags and a stove — we wanted to cut down on the suffering if at all possible. Leaving the glacier at about two in the afternoon we soloed up the lower part of the wall, then established a supposedly protected bivouac platform in the top bergschrund.

At six in the morning we led over the schrund and onto the 2000-foot ice slope; we were back in the game. We rapidly crossed over to the side of the slope while the sun loosened all kinds of rocks from the top and tunneled them towards us. Fortunately the ice was not as hard as in July, but it was still a hammer-and-axe affair. The approach we adopted for a three-man party was to have the leader take four leads in a row, the second man to climb without removing any pins, and the third man to self-belay with a Jümar while removing both belay and protection pins. We were now climbing up where we had retreated in July but unhappily saw no sign of our $25 worth of pitons. Near the top of the ice slope the Jumar proved worthless on the icy rope, so, after some hairy slips, we substituted a prusik knot. At mid-afternoon we reached the rock and again our progress was really slowed. The day was quickly disappearing as we shouted up to Jeff “What’s it look like?”. “Looks all right, maybe a bivouac in fifty feet” came the less than convincing reply. When I joined Jeff, I could see the point — our supposed ramp was steep ice butting up to a vertical headwall, with no possibility of a ledge in sight. Night fell as Gray joined us on our sorry bivouac — thin ice over steep rock. Fifty feet above was a small rock against the headwall, so Jeff, using a headlamp, worked his way to it. We flattened the rock and placed a bunch of poor belay pitons. Gray remained below and did what he could with the ice.

I had often read about those seemingly mythical bivouacs of Hermann Buhl where he stood all night keeping himself awake for fear of putting weight on the belays. I had never imagined how bad it could be in reality. After standing for thirty minutes, I collapsed into a precarious sitting position and alternately dozed and wondered. Another night to remember!

After a chilly breakfast we led up and across a particularly steep section, having to cut some of the few steps of the climb. From the belay we could look back on the awful buttress where we had been in July and on the evil walls to either side. Vertical ice gullies and overhanging rock gave this section of Kitchener a look of total impregnability, with our ice ramp the only apparent weakness. And as a weakness it was a failure, as not only was it steep but we had to continually work at a diagonal. It never seemed to let up. By mid-afternoon we were directly under the summit icecap on precarious rock, where the belays were so bad that they came apart in my hands. Ice pitch followed rock as the top edged within reach.

At six o’clock I heaved over the cornice and joined Jeff on top. Standing in the brisk wind, drinking hot tea, joking, feeling the tension ease, I was already planning other climbs in this great range. It’s heady stuff this climbing.

Summary of Statistics:

AREA: Columbia Ice-fields, Canadian Rockies.

NEW ROUTE: Mount Kitchener, North Face. August 27-29, 1971 (Christopher Jones, Jeff Lowe, Graham Thompson). NCCSV, F7.

Thanks to Chris Jones

http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12197206600/The-North-Face-of-Mount-Kitchener
More Air

Trad climber
S.L.C.
Dec 22, 2014 - 05:42pm PT
In 1979 my Salt Lake friends Jim Dockery & Dave Jenkins climbed the Grand Central Couloir in the summer.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 22, 2014 - 05:46pm PT
In 1979 my Salt Lake friends Jim Dockery & Dave Jenkins climbed the Grand Central Couloir in the summer.

I'm not sure I would admit to that but it is still badazz. ;-)
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Dec 22, 2014 - 06:59pm PT
Ron Kauk and I made an ascent of the ramp route in late September of 1977. It was quite cold (a good thing). Conditions were similar to the photos Jim Brennan posted earlier in this thread.

My interest in the Rockies began after reading about the FAs of North Twin and Alberta's north faces by George Lowe and his partners. Many of us young Stone Masters were interested in alpine climbing having grown up reading such classics as The White Spider and Annapurna. Referring to the Rockies as the "Poor man's Alps" is quite apt as most of us were so broke a trip to the Alps was a fantasy. The Rockies were attainable however if you knew someone with a serviceable car and could scrounge up some gas money.

My first trip there was in August of 1975 with Luke Freeman and Jim Orey. Our initial objective was the North Face of Assiniboine--the Matterhorn of the Rockies. It was a successful venture as we all summited after a ropeless ascent. It was really quite low angle and much easier than we anticipated. I remember being impressed by the East face. From here we traveled to the Ice Fields where I got my first look at Kitchener's north face. Wow! It is a breathtaking sight from the highway. I was hooked.

At the Ice Field campground I was surprised to run into Jeff Lowe and Mike Weiss. They had just finished their ascent of the GCC. I had met them both just seven months ago in Yosemite on the road beneath the Widow's Tear in Yosemite. They had hoped to follow up their ascent a year earlier of Bridalviel Fall by bagging the FA ascent of the Tear. Conditions didn't favor them however and that honor would fall to Kevin Worrall and myself.
Such a small world. Our 1975 trip ended with a dud as bad weather drove us away. A follow up trip in 1976 with Luke was also depressingly unsuccessful as again bad weather prevailed.

In the summer of 1977 I broke my wrist on the approach to the West Face of Mount Conness in the Yosemite high country. This shut me down for two months until I finally had the cast removed in September. It was too painful still to do even a pull up so I busied myself with hiking and running. Two months with out climbing was driving me nuts. I was still haunted by Kitchener and perhaps it wasn't too late for this year. My previous two years experience with miserable summer weather in the Rockies had me thinking that the fall was the time to be there. I told Ron about how amazing Kitchener was and he was game. Soon we were off to Canada.

We settled in at the Ice Field camp ground and had it all to ourselves. The weather though refused to cooperate. One day while we were eyeing the route from a pull out on the highway a ranger type fellow pulled up. He inquired about our plans and seemed somewhat dismissive after we told him. His reply was,"You would really have to have a hair up your a*# to want to climb that". We paid him no mind. The days frittered by. We were getting financially desperate. If the weather didn't break soon we would have to leave. Finally, we decided to do the approach and bivy at the base. If we awoke to good weather we would go, if not so be it--another wasted trip to the Rockies. Tossing and turning in our tiny Salewa bivy tent I went out in the middle of the night to pee. To my shock I was greeted by a crystal clear night of blazing stars and ice cold temperatures. Excited, I awoke Ron. We brewed up some hot chocolate with protein powder, melted a quart of water and set off. We were going light. We took sleeping bags but no stove or ensolite pads. We were woefully short on gear but managed to "borrow" a Stubai ice hammer from a climbing shop on the drive up giving us four ice tools. Ron had the only set of wool gloves between us. I had only a pair of fingerless Miller Mitts. Absurd really.

We soloed up the left side of the bergschrund in the glow of our headlamps. Gradually the solo climbing gave way to simul climbing with gear between us. We were in the left of the two lower ice slopes. As dawn arrived we could look up at the GCC. It was in perfect conditions. Far better than when Jeff and Mike climbed it. It was tempting to go for the second ascent. Under the circumstances that was just too nuts. It was crazy enough to be up here at all as my first climb back from a broken wrist. We crossed through the notch to the right hand gully and eventually started using conventional belays. At the top of the ice gully Ron led a hard pitch on rock that brought us to a small sloping ice covered ledge. We hacked at the ice for a good while until we had a place to sit and settled in for the night. Our water was frozen solid as were our meager rations of two small green apples, a piece of cheese and two peanut butter honey sandwiches. I can't remember a whole lot about our second day. I do remember one rock pitch climbed with crampons and ice axes. Dry tooling they call it now. The holds were all covered with powder snow. The pro was typically poor. I wasn't sure if I was going the right way. My efforts uncovered a few fixed pins at the steepest point. I found this trace of previous climbers comforting on such a vast face. We eventually found ourselves below the summit ice cap. It was immense, vertical to overhanging and un-climbable. What were we going to do now? We started traversing right on ice looking for a weakness. After several pitches of this I set up a belay on a snow blob at the base of a possible weakness. Either way this had to be it. There was no where else to climb to and daylight was fading. Still, how were we going to climb the vertical cornice? We came up with plan. Ron would use our three axes. By driving their shafts into the cornice ice he could use them for aid. He would pull the bottom one out and leap frog it. By leap frogging in such a method he could self belay himself. If any thing went wrong the 16 inch shaft of the ice hammer stuck in the snow blob (our only anchor) wasn't worth sh#t. I remember looking down from this precarious perch as the light faded, Ron laboring above, at our bivy tent barely visible below. Home and comfort seemed far far away. When Ron reached the top the stars were bright and the northern lights were doing their thing. The next problem was how was I going to get up this pitch? I had Ron tie loops into our 9 mil trail line and lower it down to me. I managed to yard myself up the vertical pitch on these. We spent the night shivering on the summit ice cap. Dawn found us with one last obstacle. A rather ugly looking notch we had to rappel into and climb out of. I got this one last chore as Ron had led the cornice. With this behind us we gradually made our way off the mountain leaving the snow and ice behind. Reaching the rocks below we found frozen puddles of water which we hacked through to reach the liquid within. Once back to our car Ron set out for the base to retrieve our tent and stove. My toes were numb and would remain so for a week. The tips of the two middle fingers of my right hand were black and blue and had no skin as it was torn off by freezing to the cold steel of our pitons. Now its just scar tissue. While Ron was gone I sorted our gear and packed the car. Our ranger buddy dropped by for a visit. He now seemed like our best friend. Apparently he was watching our ascent. I remembering thinking every body loves a winner. Ron returned a few hours later and we headed back to sunny California as a snow storm moved in. We had timed it just perfectly.

bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Dec 22, 2014 - 07:29pm PT
Mark, great story! Keep 'em coming!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 22, 2014 - 07:38pm PT
Epic, Mark. Thanks for sharing the story.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 22, 2014 - 08:14pm PT
Outstanding account, Mark. Just the sought of narration this kind of thread thrives on.
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Dec 23, 2014 - 07:30am PT
Jim,
The Stubai I "borrowed" had the same pick and head as the one you pictured but the shaft, rather than being blunt and rubber coated, was pointy and very sharp. I punctured myself in a place most guys really don't want to mess with during the borrowing process. I may still have this tool buried under my house in Yosemite. I will look for it in the next few weeks and see. I should really return it to its rightful owners.
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Dec 23, 2014 - 09:42am PT
My little Kitchener souvenir.
More Air

Trad climber
S.L.C.
Dec 27, 2014 - 10:28am PT
"In 1979 my Salt Lake friends Jim Dockery & Dave Jenkins climbed the Grand Central Couloir in the summer.

I'm not sure I would admit to that but it is still badazz. ;-) "

According to Jim, they had good conditions elsewhere in the Rockies. From below, the Grand Central Couloir looked good. When they arrived at the first steep crux section, Dave got a questionable screw in down low. Higher, the ice was hollow and unprotectable. The climbing was difficult and when he arrived at the 2 wart hog hanging belay, he had no protection in but that first screw.

At the second crux higher up, Jim had similar problems with protection. At a roof he paused for a long time, not being able to get in any protection. He couldn't down climb, so he just went for it risking a long ground fall into the gully. Higher, after sunset they aided over the summit cornice (similar to what Chappy described) to the top. Hallucinating on the descent, they decided it safer to suffer a cold bivy than to risk descending the steep terrain in the dark.
Avery

climber
NZ
Dec 31, 2014 - 05:38am PT


Thanks to Dana Ruddy
Bad Climber

climber
Dec 31, 2014 - 06:52am PT
Hey, Avery, thanks for getting these Rockies threads started. I've climbed in the range a bunch when I was younger and am totally fascinated by these climbs, which were always too much for me--although I had dreams. I did get up a number of the classic moderates. What a great range! Those photos of the group of four on the route--wow!

BAd
Jim Dockery

Trad climber
WA
Jan 5, 2015 - 02:53pm PT
Brian told me about this thread, then Avery wrote asking for my input, so I joined ST to put my 2C in.

In the 70s I became obsessed with this route after seeing it from the road on previous trips. In the end it was one of my hardest climbs that pushed me past my limits and made me question the sanity of hard alpinism.

I'm pretty sure Dave & I didn't do the 3rd ascent since I know that the late Alex Lowe got up it the summer before. He and I had talked about teaming up, but our timing didn't match, so he did it another partner in Sept. I think (after I had to be back at work teaching). I never investigated any other history of the route, so don't know if there were other prior ascents

As far as summer being crazy, that was the only time I could reasonably get off, and back then we often found reasonable north face conditions in summer. Like More Air says it looked good (filled in) from the Hwy - in fact we thought it would be a romp. As most climbers know though looks can be deceiving . . .

On a quick warm up romp up Athabasca we found perfect ice so Dave and I headed up to Kitchener.

We shouldn't have even started our first attempt due to warm temps, but we were too hyped up and hoped it would cool as we climbed. We got around the shrund then ran up the first ice field to just below a rock wall when rock and ice fall commenced and sent us scurrying back down. To avoid exposure we made our descent hugging the wall, often down climbing in the moat.

When we got down we figured conditions looked good if it cooled in the next couple days, so a game of rock paper scissors sent Dave back to the car for more food while I hung out and observed the face.

On our final climb we third classed the first half of the face until entering the couloir proper.

Like More Air said we still thought the crux pitch might be reasonable, but what looked like ice turned out to be a thin shell over sugar snow. By the time Dave realized how bad it was he didn't think he could down climb, couldn't find any reliable pro, and so struggled up the hardest pitch either of us had ever done. He was physically and mentally wasted after that so I led the rest of the climb.

The next section in the upper gully went fast, but the exit was another crux. The steep rock was coated with snice that provided no purchase for my tools which ended up dangling from my wrists for the most part (long before dry tooling was a thing) as I pulled up on plates of wet shale praying for protection that never materialized. I finally found myself scrunched under an overhang of ruble and almost cried at the prospect of pulling over on the loose holds I wasn't sure of. With no other options I finally figured I might as well go out fighting and went for it, a bit surprised to make it.

When we finally reached the cornice it was close to midnight (our alarm had gone off 24 hr. earlier) and we couldn't see a way other than straight up 30 ft. of overhanging snow. Dave jammed himself into a moat/slot as a live man anchor and I headed up with all the tools. I was much too wasted to free climb up the overhang so I ended up pounding in the shafts of the tools, then aiding up on them until I could finally pull over onto the flat summit. The first time I tried to do so though my pick slid through the soft snow and the axe jerked back and hit me in the mouth splitting my lip, which bled like hell for a few minutes. I don't really remember how Dave got up, but I'm assuming he prusiked.

We wandered around in the dark looking for the rap anchor to descend into the little notch, but I was hallucinating so much I demanded we sit it out since there were only a few hours until light. We sat on our packs and shivered continuously, teeth chattering, as we watched the northern lights glow on the horizon.

In the end this climb drew a line in the snow for me that I didn't want to cross again. We both felt like we were gambling with our lives on those crux pitches and we made it up with as much luck as pluck. I was in the best shape of my life and was climbing well, so I felt like I'd finally found my limit, and didn't want to go that close to the edge again. After that I was content to back off a bit and do hard, but not extreme, routes where I could work as much on my photography as pure climbing.
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Jan 5, 2015 - 04:21pm PT

you sure that's not one of them less-hair sasquatches?

thanks for sharing your story and photos...

mighty fine... mighty fine.
Avery

climber
NZ
Jan 5, 2015 - 04:25pm PT
Many thanks Jim. This is wonderful stuff. One of the real joys of supertopo is coming across a post like this.

Cheers!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 6, 2015 - 12:39am PT
Great story and photos, Jim! Thanks for sharing.
steve shea

climber
Jan 6, 2015 - 07:41am PT
Great story on the GCC Jim. The introspection and "line in the snow" comments speak to the nature of the climb. You guys did it. Really good tale!
chappy

Social climber
ventura
Jan 6, 2015 - 09:07am PT
Love these stories! Such a wild place. Some awesome pictures.
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Jan 6, 2015 - 10:28am PT
Great story and photos, Jim. Thanks a bunch.

Being an ex Teton dink, I remember a picture of a Dave Jenkins 3rd classin' the steep pitch on the Run-Don't-Walk Couloir on Mt. Owen in the Jenny Lake ranger station. I can only assume it's the same guy (??)
Castiella

Trad climber
Donostia, spain
Jan 12, 2015 - 08:01am PT
Mountain 60 (p.14): "joe Kaelin and Bill Pilling made the third ascent of the right-hand route (ramp route?) on mt. Kitchener's north face. The ascent was hampered by the fact that Pilling broke his ice axe just above the bergschrund, so the two days' climbing time was spread over three". 1977.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jan 31, 2015 - 08:46pm PT
hey there say, ... wow, i just found a great chappy story... thanks mark!

will read this now... :)
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jan 31, 2015 - 08:47pm PT
hey there say... wow, great photos from jim, up posts, there... and from avery... very nice shares... :)
Bushman

Social climber
Elk Grove, California
Feb 22, 2015 - 11:32am PT
Hi Avery,

I just recently scanned these old slides from Tobin and Jack Roberts' ascent. Don't know the exact date but I think it was the winter of 1978-79.


The avalanche was in the morning before doing the route. They were camped near the bottom of a snow field below the face. Tobin said they heard a cracking as the summit cornices broke and he shot a picture as the ice roared down the face towards them, then they dived into the tent as if it would do any good. As they cowered in what they thought would be their tomb, there was a loud 'Foomf' sound as the avalanche hit the tent. They climbed out to find a foot deep of ice crystal snow had harmlessly swept over and deposited onto them. Agreement was made then and there to start the climb before another avalanche scoured the route.


Any other info regarding this ascent would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

-Tim

Here's the link to the the seperate thread on this ascent

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/2584071/Sorenson-Roberts-Grand-Central-Couloir-Mt-Kitchener
Avery

climber
NZ
Feb 22, 2015 - 01:14pm PT
Thanks for your generosity Bushman. These pics are a genuine slice of climbing history.
cheesenuts

Trad climber
Burnaby, BC
Feb 22, 2015 - 03:21pm PT
I see a lot of references to 'reasonably cold alpine conditions in the summer back then' in many posts. Can someone elaborate on the 'back then' part of this?
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