American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Canadian Rockies, The Watch Tower

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1933

The Watch Tower (Canadian Rockics)

First ascent by R. S. Whitney, J. A. Corry, and B. B. Gilman on August 3rd and 4th, 1932. This rock pinnacle rises sharply above Cataract Brook on the east side of the valley leading from Hector, B.C., in to Lake O’Hara. It is really the western tip of a mountain ridge running westerly from Mt. Collier, but is cut off from the rest of the rather level ridge by a deep chasm. It can be reached in about two hours and a half from either Wapta or Lake O’Hara bungalow camp. After leaving the Cataract Brook bridle path, about three-fourths of an hour’s struggle through fallen burned timber leads the climber to the valley on the north side of the Watch Tower.

The ascent was made from the saddle on the east of the Watch Tower over a shoulder which leans against the main peak and terminates in a platform a little more than half way up. Just below this, the party had to traverse into a chimney between the shoulder and the tower and work upwards for twenty feet by the back-and-knee method. Above the platform they encountered a twenty-foot overhang. Here an hour was occupied in lassoing a projecting rock spike, after which a rain storm forced a retreat to Lake O’Hara. The next day the assault was continued and the summit reached after some strenuous and spectacular rock climbing. Whitney worked out the route and led the difficult pitches with great skill.

Our times on the two days which the climb took were about as follows: August 3rd: left Lake O’Hara 9:30, arrived saddle (base of rocks) one o’clock. Roped and left saddle two o’clock, arrived platform below overhang, three o’clock. Top of overhang 4:30, then down in light rain, reaching saddle 5 :30 and back to Lake O’Hara 7 :45. On August 4th we left Lake O’Hara at 8:55. Left the Cataract Brook trail at 10:10. Reached the saddle at 11:45. Left it and started climbing at 12:30, reaching the platform at one o’clock. Above the overhang at 1:25. On the summit at 2:15. We were back to the saddle at five o’clock, on the Cataract Brook trail at 5 :50 and at O’Hara at seven.

Bradley B. Gilman.

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