Cayoosh Range, Various New Routes

Canada, British Columbia, Coast Mountains
Author: Paul McSorley. Climb Year: 2022. Publication Year: 2023.

image_2image_3With a sidelining injury plaguing my A and B plans for the summer, I decided to poke around close to home. For a warm-up and to test my tweaky shoulder on easier ground, I headed up to the Place Glacier with Natalie Afonina to check out a small dome that I’d scoped during a previous trip to climbing the amazing Bruce Kay route Mighty Mouse on the Mouse’s Tooth formation in the North Joffre Creek area.

The south face of Cayoosh Dome, across North Joffre Creek from the Mouse’s Tooth, offered a few pitches of crack and knob climbing up to 5.9. Like so many coastal routes just above treeline, this formation had a bit of everything: lichen, brush, and some immaculate stone, with a run-out knob pitch as the highlight. There’s lots of “mini-putt” new routing to do on this formation for lovers of fun in the alpine sun.

My good friend Matt “Hoop” Pennington was in town and hankering for adventure, so we quested up to an unnamed lake below the southeast flanks of Mt. Oleg (2,587m). The broad wall above the lake, which I’d glimpsed on a previous mission, was a stunner: only 200m–250m high but with heaps of potential. Beautiful cracks, roofs, and some broken slabs provided the entertainment, with a dihedral-to-roof traverse delivering exciting crux climbing. We named the route You Can’t Blame the Youth (200m, 5.11a) and called the wall Xwexwsélkn, the Coast Salish name for mountain goats, because of the numerous tracks we crossed.

Later, I recruited Chad Sayers to join me on a north-northeast-facing formation I’d been eyeing for years, just left of the Mouse’s Tooth above North Joffre Creek. After a gully scramble and some vegetated 5th class, the climbing and stone improved as we gained height. The eighth pitch was the blockbuster: delicate climbing up a large flake with a technical arête that got both of our hearts pounding. A classic ridge led through some gendarmes that, from the valley, resemble the head of an owl. After a short, steep step guarding the summit slopes, we scrambled to the tippy-top. We named our route Owl Arête (300m, 5.11a).

My friend Kieran Brownie says that when you climb a “new” summit on the coast, it likely was soloed millennia ago by daring goat hunters. So, in deference to our mountain brethren who wandered these hills long ago, Chad and I decided to call this formation Hunter’s Spire (1,900m).

— Paul McSorley, Canada

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