MOUNT SNOWDOME, NORTH FACE

Posted on: June 1, 2004


On February 11, Tom Schnugg and I climbed a new route, For Father (V WI6, 1000m), on the north face of Mount Snowdome. We approached as for Slipstream (VI WI4+, 925m, Elzinga-Lauchlan, 1979), but kept going another kilometer farther up the main glacier to an ice line on the north face of Mount Snowdome. Once on the climb we moved like the devil himself was chasing us, scrambling center left up the serac-flavored ice tongue (WI3). At the base of the main line, which starts out of the upper cirque, we climbed many pitches of tiered WI2-4. Ninety meters of WI6 then brought us to an ice cave on the left. This allowed us to take a breather and feel protected for a moment from the serac barrier that guards the top of the route.

The last pitch started with the final twenty meters (WI4) of water ice to reach the base of the serac barrier. From the belay, it was only one fifty-five-meter pitch to the top. However, first we had to weave our way delicately up and through the brittle and large serac features-"the taxes and mothers-in-law section," unavoidable and undesirable.

As much of the serac ice proved to be unstable, I had to tenderly tap and hook my way up in my search for the most solid line possible. Despite that approach, the serac spit me off the wall, literally, via an explosion and a big chunk of ice that yielded my first leader fall on ice in fourteen years of ice climbing. We regrouped at the belay and assessed our opportunities for a safer ascent. Finding none, we decided to descend.

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— David Marra, Canmore, Canada, with Tom Schnugg, Mill Valley, California

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