American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Canadian Rockies, Waterfall Climbs

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1993

Waterfall Climbs, Canadian Rockies. On March 22,I made what is perhaps only the second on-sight solo of the formidable Canadian Rockies’ alpine waterfall “Slipstream,” taking four hours for the Grade V ascent. Marc Twight made the first on-sight solo in the winter of 1988-9. Earlier in the season, on December 24, 1991, I made an on-sight solo of a route on the Upper Weeping Wall, referred to in the Canadian Alpine Journal, 1992 on page 80 as “Nasty Habits-Left,” attributed to “unkown climber(s), winter 1991/2.” My route followed the initial 100 meters of steep thin ice of Nasty Habits and then, after a snow bench, ascended the large ice flow 100 meters left of Nasty Habits (IV, 4+, 200m). I also made what is probably the first on-sight solo ascent of Bourgeau Lefthand, which overlooks the Sunshine Ski area (IV, 5, 185m). Barry Blanchard had soloed the route in the winter of 1990/1, but had, I believe, previously climbed the route roped up. On December 22, 1991, I made an on-sight solo of Lower Weeping Wall Right-Hand (III, 5,125m). While soloing Canadian waterfalls has become more common, these solo ascents are rarely on- sight efforts, i.e. the climber confronts the route not having climbed it roped with a partner. The rehearsal removes a psychological barrier for the soloist. Conversely, the on-sight soloist faces the unknown and must learn its characteristics while climbing alone and unroped. I feel that, given the technical edge today’s climbers have gained through ultra-modern ice gear and training, on-sight soloing of established lines conserves the elements of adventure and commitment.

Robert Cordery-Cotter

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