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North America, Canada, Canadian Rockies, Mount Redoubt, East Face, Ramparts

Mount Redoubt, East Face, Ramparts. The great Rampart walls of Oubliette, Dungeon and Redoubt rise some 3000 feet above Amethyst Lake, one of the grandest sights in the mountains of Canada. The magnificent buttress on the east face of Redoubt seemed to call to us. Mists of the previous evening had settled, and the morning of August 7 dawned hopeful. Jerry Fuller and I were packed the night before and had an employé of Brewster’s Camp row us across the neck of the lake to save time. The sun had barely hit when we were searching for a way onto the lowest portion of the great rock wall. After a false start, we miraculously found a tunnel of ice to squeeze into and climb down some 35 vertical feet to a jumble of séracs. Here we clambered over the schrund and onto the rock. Shortly after we left the ice, rocks whirred down onto it. To save time and get out of danger, we climbed unroped to the great rock band one-third of the way up the face. Though one would ordinarily use the rope here, speed was even more essential. Once on the band, the exposure was frightening, and we could not make the traverse we had planned in our previous binocular studies. The rock was so poor that it seemed unwise even to try to belay; a slip would have been disastrous. The only alternative was to climb directly upward on a vertical crest of the buttress. Jerry led out to the right, out of sight, and the occasional ringing of pitons told me he was getting good protection. The route looked impossible to do free, but it went, primarily because of the excellence of the quartzite. I continued up the crest on the next lead, working in and out among gigantic steps. The pitch involved about six little overhangs, but somehow always went free. Luckily I could place pitons in most of the key places, although one sector was quite unprotected. This was vertical rock climbing at its very best. Packs swung free to prove this as we hauled up the gear. Another half-pitch of this delightful exposure and difficulty, and we were back into more reasonable going. Here we climbed with packs, fifth class, for about 600 vertical feet, using an intricate system of steps, ledges, and traverses back-and-forth that we had carefully mapped out with binoculars, earlier. Several times the sun above loosened rock fragments and sent them hurtling down over our heads; the wall was steep enough so most of these unwelcome rock showers went far outside of us. Our plan was to stay on the rounded portion of the slight buttress in the center of the east face, for classic reasons as well as safety. So far this seemed to be working out to plan, and the higher we climbed, the more optimistic we became. Leading out of a notch, Jerry had just managed a hard fifth-class wall when what sounded like a crashing airplane rushed by. A whole cascade of rocks — blocks, stones, and fragments — plunged for an eternity. We both shouted, but could not hear each other; most fortunately, Jerry was able to plaster himself against a wall, and my belay spot was safe. Luckily the rope was not hit directly. On the next three pitches we climbed rather frantically, moving as fast as possible to safe walls that protected us, and stopping to place pitons only when it seemed safe from rockfall. We were able to work out a route slightly left of the fall-pattern, which came from a large ice patch beneath the summit ridge. When we came abreast of it, we knew we were safe and took a second lunch break. The three final pitches of the summit wall were well broken and the anticipated technical difficulties did not materialize. We placed a few protection pitons and had a share of difficult moves on this section, but the route went well and was generally difficult fifth-class climbing. We stepped into the sunlight of the summit ridge just a few feet from the seldom visited cairn.

Fred Beckey