Southern Coast Mountains and Canadian Cascades

North America, Canada, British Columbia, Coast Mountains
Author: Drew Brayshaw, Canada, AAC. Climb Year: 2011. Publication Year: 2012.

The number of new routes reported in southwestern British Columbia has been declining since surging around 2002-2004. There are probably a number of reasons for this general decline, including the time since the last comprehensive guidebook was published, and the Internet, which guides people toward already visited places. Shifts in the forest industry have resulted in old logging roads becoming impassable while opening access to new areas. The nadir of this trend was probably 2010, when apparently only one new alpine route was put up in all southwestern B.C. There was something of a resurgence in 2011, with three notable routes.

All four routes established in 2010 and 2011 are long rock routes. In 2010, Cam Robertson, Mike Shannon, and Jeff Sherstobit off, three motivated climbers from Kelowna, added a long, easy route at the extreme left margin of Yak Peak’s southwest face. Seven One-Move Wonders of the World (III 5.7) is 15 pitches long, with several isolated moves in the 5.7 range. Much of the route consists of 4th and low 5th class slab scrambling, with bolted belays. It begins just left of Speedway, crosses the Southwest Gully around pitch nine, and possibly shares terrain with the nebulous 1987 Beckey-de Jong-Svensson. Despite its shortcomings the new route has proven popular, bridging the gap between scrambling and climbing. There was one repeat in 2010 and at least three in 2011.

In summer 2011 Justin Barnes, Jeremy Frimer, and Kat Siepmann climbed a new variation on the east face of Mt. Parkes, the subsidiary northern bump of the Mt. Slesse group. This face was already home to the 2001 route Bamboozled Buttress, which was infamously climbed in the fog by Karsten Duncan and Dan Hughes while grievously off-route attempting the more prominent Northeast Buttress of Mt. Slesse. The new route, Beached Az (III 5.9), climbs terrain near Bamboozled in the lower half (though with clearer weather allowing the choice of a less-vegetated line) but continues straight up the face where Bamboozled moves left. The climbing was said to feature lots of grassy cracks and not be particularly aesthetic.

In the Squamish area Conny Amelunxen, Jamie Chong, and Marshal German established something of a double route on the narrow south face of Mt. Dione. Both the variants of Dehydrated on Dalwhinnie are 10 pitches long, the gear variant being 5.10- and the sport variant 5.11b. The climbers established the route ground-up using trad gear and then made bolted variations to a few of the pitches, creating what was touted as a fully equipped sport line. About eight pitches are common to both, with the trad line bypassing the 5.11b crux. The sport line still has sections of loose rock and scrambling. The route seems to have been established with guiding in mind, given its visibility from and proximity to the Jim Haberl Hut.

Finally Bruce Kay with a variety of partners, but primarily Jim Martinello, spent the summer of 2011 on the east face of the Mouse’s Tooth (a subsidiary rock buttress in North Joffre Creek near Pemberton, home to his winter routes Rhapsody in Floyd and Free Tibet). The result was an 11-pitch 5.11-. The rock is good overall, especially after several repeats, and Bruce went back in late summer and established higher-quality bolted variations to the first two pitches, which were said to be junky and vegetated.

These routes illustrate trends in the alpine environment of southwestern B.C.: more bolts and power drilling, more attention paid to quality, more willingness to squeeze in variations close to existing climbs, and quick repeats courtesy of the Internet. I expect these trends will become more prevalent, but the southern Coast Mountains are wild enough that the purest adventure climbing will survive well into the future.

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