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North America, Canada, British Columbia, Purcell Mountains, Block Tower, Trout Fishing in America

Block Tower, Trout Fishing in America. Guy Edwards and I spent seven days in early September in the remote and practically untouched Leaning Tower group, west of the town of Kimberly and south of the popular Bugaboos. Our first day was spent reconnoitering the impressive east face of Block and Wall towers and climbing the South Ridge (Enagonio-Mank, 1988) of Block Tower via a direct line through the overhanging headwall instead of traversing around the difficulties as the original route does. Our South Ridge Direct (III 5.10d) was the third ascent of the spire. The next two days were spent fixing the first three pitches on the unclimbed east face of Block Tower. We found a discontinuous crack system that yielded to thin nailing, beaking and hooking with the odd rivet move producing challenging aid; both Guy and I took short yet powerful falls. After a rest day (during which Guy soloed the northwest ridge of Wall Tower, a IV 5.7) we jugged our fixed ropes, committed to completing the route. Three more deceptively difficult aid pitches deposited us at the base of the final rope length as the darkening clouds released their contents just in time for Guy to lead the 5.10+ crack (the only free pitch on the route). Two wet and tired climbers popped out onto the summit of Block Tower in near darkness for the second time that week. We named our mini-alpine big wall Trout Fishing in America (V 5.10+ A3) after the bizarre yet entertaining Richard Brautigan book we had with us. Our route was the first ascent of the east face of Block Tower.

Sean Isaac*, unaffiliated

*The members were recipients of The Canadian Himalayan Foundation Grant