After a terrific day on Pilsner two days earlier, we're back in Field to attempt Superbock, a long WI5 line on Mount Stephen. After the standard 1 ½ hour drive, we're there at 7:40AM. It is still completely dark. We put our boots on while waiting for some daylight so we can see the climb from across the Trans-Canada. We eventually see it, but it is not fully formed: the WI3 steps between the 1st pitch and the pillar are mostly rock, and the first half of the pillar itself is just a few thin icicles. Oh well. Anyway, the weather looks a bit iffy for such an exposed climb: it is snowing steadily by 8:30AM. We're a bit demotivated now.
We drive around to check out the other lines in the area but none looks anywhere near as exciting as Carlsberg or Pilsner, which we have already climbed. After much hesitation, we finally decide to give Guiness Gully a go, since it is supposed to be a good one, and is certainly very popular. Surprisingly, we still make it to the pullout before anyone else! The approach is typical of the "Beer Climbs": short but steep. We get to the base kind of late but still first in line.
When we're almost ready, another party of Canmorites shows up. The first pitch looks a bit thin and very hacked out, but actually turns out to be pretty fun. We fire up it in no time; it's actually quite fun to climb on staircase ice again (à la SW Colorado)! A short snow slog above is the second pitch: a very short (20 meters or so) WI4 step of good ice to a tree belay on the left. We fire up that and it's another snow slope (120 meters or so) to the last pitch: a long stepped slab (WI3+) of good looking ice for a full 55 meters to a tree or a single bolt anchor with chain. Lucie leads this one. She sets up the belay at the single bolt (a pretty new one, but could use a backup) and Eric follows. Above this, we thought there was another pitch but all there is a short (6 meters) wet step of WI1 or 2. Not worth the trouble.
We end up rapping from the bolt back to the snow slope where the other party is waiting. Down the snow and two more raps bring us back to the packs. We have to wait for nearly 45 minutes as another party occupies the rap anchor while climbing the first pitch.
While we are packing the gear, we get hit twice by small (but scary enough) avalanches from above the first pitch (likely triggered by the 2 Canmorites coming down). We do not wait for a third one, but instead glissade down the set track back to the road and our car (very quick). There's still a good bit of daylight left (~3PM), so we go take a few pictures of the climbs from a distance (including Pilsner since we did not get a chance to do that two days ago).
We drive back to Canmore with a quick stop at Monod, in Banff, where Eric was hoping to take a good look at a pair of DMM Terminators. He's been wondering if it's not time to replace his old Grade 8's with a more rigid, asymmetric crampon. Monod does not have them, maybe he'll find a pair in Calgary.
Note: we eventually did find a pair of Terminators at MEC; they are terrific crampons! Great design on the front points (similar to the Grivel Rambo Comp, including secondary and tertiary points), simple, clean construction, and they include very effective antibottes! Highly recommended.
Guiness Gully, Field, BC
|The "Beer Climbs" on Mount Dennis, by Field, BC.|
|Lucie, very motivated for the climb... (click to hear her eagerness...)|
|The heavily picked, but fun first pitch.|
|Short but steep second pitch.|
|Views of the Trans-Canada from the climb.|
|The long third pitch (climber unknown).|
|Lucie starting up the third pitch...|
|...and placing her first screw.|
|Near the end of the long third pitch.|