Vampire Spire, The Coffin and The Dark Side. On July 17 Pat Goodman and I began what seems to have become our annual journey to the Vampire region of Canada’s Northwest Territories. A blown alternator left us stranded in Fort St. John, B.C., for three days, stretching the 70-hour drive into five days. This delay worked out to our advantage, allowing us to rendezvous with Doug La Farge, Rich Ludwig, and John Sedelmeyer at Warren LaFave’s Inconnu Fishing Lodge and share the cost of the flight into the climbing area.
When we arrived, the weather was shaping up to be a repeat of the previous year. But after a week it cleared, allowing us to go climbing. Doug, Rich, and John began work on an aid route up the south face of Vampire Spire [Nosferatu, see above] that Pat and I had attempted last season. The following day Pat and I completed our new route, The Coffin (V 5.11 Cl), which follows a striking large crack feature splitting the southwest face of the Vamp. To our dismay this route didn’t go free, due to an eternally seeping roof.
Earlier, while circumnavigating the Spire, we saw what we believed could be a free route up the northwest face. On August 17 we completed a wandering climb on the northwest face following splitter dihedrals, overhanging fist cracks, and several moderate pitches, to establish The Dark Side (IV 5.11). We believe that ascent to be the first free and only one-day ascent of the formation.