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North America, Canada, Interior Ranges, West Molar, South Face

West Molar, south face. For some time I had hoped there would be a classic line from the east on the main peak of Gladsheim in the Valhalla group; a shortage of information did not tell the true story—of cutoff notches and a final alpine problem. The route we took over the Labor Day weekend climbs a very complicated lower face and spur buttress, using many ramps, gullies, and one delicate moss-tree traverse to a bivouac point on a narrow crest between canyons. The spot was comfortable, even with a fire, but a dousing rain made us wonder about the wisdom of being here at all. We took a count in the dark—there were four of us: Brian Leo, Doug McCarty, George Ochinski and I. About five hard pitches, usually led with a pack (up to F8) by Doug or Brian, completed the lengthy spur. The quartzite was very sound, but gritty and spotted with small conifers. We then scrambled up long slabs, and an alp slope (very visible all up the Mulvey Creek valley). A face and strange chimney system (one dirty, hard boulder move) took us to clean and better ground. The upper chimney-canyon led up to a notch in the main divide to the north (several nice pitches en route). Here we were shocked to find Gladsheim far to the west, with jumbled knife-edges, an ice slope, and rappel problems barring the way. We just scrambled to the top of the formation—we were on West Molar— then descended the spur to make another bivouac. Grade IV.

Fred Beckey