Southwest British Columbia (southern Coast Mountains and Canadian Cascades). 2006 was a relatively slow year in southwest British Columbia, with few new routes to report compared to previous years. In part this reflects the ending of the spurt of interest shown after the publication of the Alpine Select guidebook in 2001. A renewed interest in destinations farther afield, whether the Waddington Range, South America, or the Karakoram, has also reduced the number of local climbers putting up routes in the local mountains.
In April, shortly after the end of calendar winter, Tyler Linn and Nick Elson skied into Wedge mount Lake in Garibaldi Park and dispatched a prominent couloir on the north side of Lesser Wedge Mountain, which gave six pitches of climbing (III WI3 M4). This may have been the only new alpine route of the spring.
The summer saw several high-standard lines climbed and one very notable repeat. In the Anderson River Range, Craig McGee was active on Les Cornes. First, with Colin Moorhead, he climbed a direct start to the classic Barley-Cheesemond-Lacey-Lomax Springbok Arête (IV 5.10c) that avoids the rotten lower ramp pitches of that route. The new direct climb gives six full-length pitches of steep, solid climbing before continuing up the crux upper pitches of the original route, for a good IV 5.11. Craig later returned with Brad White and Jason Kruk to climb a route up the east face, between Springbok and the Lumberjack Wall. A 13-pitch 5.11 was the result, which the climbers, in the Darryl Hatten tradition, named Sprung Cocks Erect. SCE crosses the Springbok ramp low, then climbs straight up. Meanwhile, on the adjacent Steinbok Peak, Sonnie Trotter, Jon Walsh, and Will Stanhope made the first known repeat of the Edwards-Spagnut (V, sandbag 5.10+, 1 point of aid) in the same style as the original ascent, using one rest point. Sonnie was also in the news for his successful free ascent of Cobra Crack on Squamish, a “last great problem” and contender for “World’s Hardest Trad Route”; it goes at 5.14-something, depending on one’s finger size.
In the Chilliwack Valley area, Shaun Neufeld and Drew Brayshaw climbed a steep pillar on the south side of the false summit of Mount Rexford on their second attempt, to give a six-pitch grade III 5.11+. The second pitch crux, a 30m long, immaculate finger crack, is probably the standout on this route. In the adjacent Cheam Range, a party of four from Chilliwack (Lorne, Allan, and Vivian Bleakney, with Dan Sluess) ventured onto the north face of Mt. Cheam in August, to climb a new route, the prominent northwest ridge. Cheam’s north face, which rises over 2,000m above the Fraser River, is a mixture of steep West Coast jungle and loose metamorphic rubble that is somewhat repulsive in summer but attractive under winter conditions. The climb was completed in one long day, at a low technical standard but a high commitment level (AD IV low-5th class); a winter ascent remains as a challenge.
Only one new route was reported from the fall, as dry conditions resulted in temporary travel bans on some logging roads, limiting backcountry access. In mid-September Jesse Mason and Drew Brayshaw established a fine route on Old Settler’s southwest face, between the established routes Contact Zone and Duck a l’Orange. The new climb begins up the latter route, before moving right partway up the first pitch to gain a slender buttress. Black September goes at IV 5.10- and was named on the night descent, as Jesse had forgotten his headlamp.
Drew Brayshaw, Canada, AAC