American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Canadian Rockies, Mount Robson, Southwest Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1975

Mount Robson, Southwest Face. The southwest face, the concave face between Emperor Ridge and Wishbone Arête, begins at a huge ledge that cuts across the entire south side of the mountain at 7500 feet. It is probably possible to traverse to this ledge from the hut, but Al Spero and I climbed directly up from the north end of Kinney Lake more or less following the stream that drains the face. This approach involved some 5000 feet of class 3 and 4 climbing and took us two full days. The route-finding was intricate. We stayed right of the watercourse for 1000 feet till a cliff band forced us to climb three class 5 pitches virtually in the stream bed and then to cross to the left side. Above, the easiest route was always left of the stream, except the second to last cliff band, which we passed by following the rightmost tributary. We camped on the ledge and tried to wait out the bad weather. The most feasible route through the cliff band at the bottom of the face led up the hourglass through which most of the avalanches passed. We had to leave early and climb unroped to get high before the sun struck. We moved together for 12 pitches of front-pointing in the upper part of the face, which was straightforward (50° to 55°) except for a few rock bands and steep sections high up. A deep gap in the ice mushrooms of Emperor Ridge led almost directly to the summit. We bivouacked two pitches below the top. During the night the storm returned and it took us two days more to find our way down the Kain face.

Alan Dane Waterman

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