MT. ROBSON, INFINITE PATIENCE

Posted on: March 1, 2003


1 Fuhrer Ridge (IV 5.4, 2500m, Carlson-Hainsworth-Fuhrer, 1938) 2 North Face (IV, 2500m, Callis-Davis, 1963) 3 Emperor Face, Cheesmond-Dick (VI 5.9 A2, 2500m, Cheesmond-Dick, 1981) 4 Emperor Face, Stump-Logan (VI 5.9 A2, 2500m, Logan-Stump, 1978) 5 Infinite Patience (upper section hidden) (VI 5.9 M5 WI5, 2200m, Blanchard-Dumerac-Pellet, 2002) 6 Emperor Ridge (V 5.6, 2500m, Perla-Spencer, 1961) [Photo] Joe Josephson

Since the monumental summer ascents of Stump-Logan in 1978 and Cheesmond-Dick in 1981, many notable alpinists had attempted, without success, the Emperor Face on the north side of Mt. Robson. I favored fall/winter for an attempt, when the route would be mixed. The mountain came into condition in October. Philippe "Tronc" Pellet was keen. Given his four attempts on this monster, Barry "Bubba" Blanchard just had to come, too.

The three of us started on October 23 on the right side of the face with steep ice followed by a snow/ice couloir, at the top of which we chopped out a ledge and bivied. Later, under the pulsations of bright aurora borealis, we climbed mixed ground and traversed left to gain a gully system. From here we followed pitch after pitch of excellent ice strips and perfect mixed climbing in a direct line that eventually connected with the Emperor Ridge (V 5.6, 2500m, Perla-Spencer, 1961). The route had been climbed several times to this point (Blanchard had reached this point twice, and a Slovenian team had reached the same place in August, claiming it as a new route), but no one had continued to the summit.

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A rock-walled bivy site made for comfortable digs. The next day was a marathon. Passing a rock crux, we continued up excellent ice and chimneys to gain the kilometer-long summit ridge. Giant rime formations perched precariously at all angles forced us to abandon the ridge in favor of a traverse along a steep ice ramp to the west. We then followed a long shallow gully of steep ice that led through the summit gargoyles. After twenty hours of climbing we bivouacked on the summit. The climbing on our route, Infinite Patience (VI 5.9 M5 WI5, 2200m), was exhilarating, with good protection and good rock. Philippe dropped both his tools early on, adding some piolet traction fun.

— Eric Dumerac, Canada

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