American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, British Columbia, Canadian Rockies, Mt. Quadra, Gimme Shelter

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Mt. Quadra, Gimme Shelter. In March, Alain Massin and Steve Pratt managed the second ascent of Gimme Shelter on Mt. Quadra. First climbed over two days in 1983 by Kevin Doyle and Tim Friesen with exceptionally thin ice for seven pitches, it was easily the hardest ice climb in the world at the time. The last few seasons, it has been forming as a fat pillar of straight-forward water ice. Despite the WI 5+/6 conditions, the seracs at the top of the route have become very unstable, with several close calls keeping most suitors away. The significance of this long-awaited second ascent is somewhat diminished due to the relatively easy conditions of the route and the fact that repeating the route is now simply a matter of being willing to brave the obscene serac hazard.

One of greatest and most sought-after alpine water ice routes in the world, Slipstream, in the Columbia Icefields, also has a disintegrating serac barrier. Until recently, the serac atop this 3,000-foot route has been relatively mild, but a large blue hole has appeared directly over the route and is now regularly discharging down the climb.

Other hanging glaciers in the Rockies are in various states of disrepair. Numerous alpine routes are now decidedly unsafe. The North Glacier of Deltaform, Photofinish on Andromeda, the Hourglass Route on the north face of Athabasca, the Elzinga/Miller on the north face of Cromwell and, most disturbingly, the glacier atop the Lowe Route on the north face of Mt. Alberta have become or are quickly becoming a toss of the dice.

Joe Josephson, Calgary Mountain Club

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