MT. ANDROMEDA

Posted on: September 1, 2006


If you squint at the photo in Selected Alpine Climbs hard enough, a faint, unlikely crease of a corner system can be imagined to the left of the A-Strain on Mt. Andromeda (3450m). In spring 2006, with the mountain suitably iced up, Scott Semple and I got off to an inauspicious start, oversleeping the alarm and waking at dawn. With nothing better to do, though, we piled into the car and drove the remaining half hour to the trailhead. The morning was disconcertingly warm, and as the sun rose, Andromeda's northeast face came alive with noisy wet sloughs, fortunately to the right of our intended line. We simulclimbed the lower portion of the face, past the avalanche cone, up plating ice, to the base of the rock.

Raphael Slawinski on the first ascent of DTCB (“The Doctor, the Tourist, His Crampon and Their Banana”: V M7, 700m), Mt. Andromeda, Canadian Rockies. The route marked Slawinski’s fifth major new route of 2006. [Photo] Scott Semple

At first the impending, chossy crack had me looking for a way to traverse around, but it quickly became apparent that straight up was the way to go. After stuffing in cams, hooking loose chockstones and grunting to make sure I had Scott's attention at the belay—this was steep, damnit!—I was pleased to find a hidden runnel of thick ice. The first pitch set the pattern for the rest of the route: the stream of more (or less) fat ice down the corner system would be interrupted once or twice every pitch by steep drytooling. The line kept going, twisting and turning, blocked by overhangs, and we could never see farther than half a pitch ahead.

As the afternoon wore on, we secretly started hoping for moderate ground and thick ice. Instead, we found ourselves below yet another corner, this one guarded by a dripping, slabby rock wall. But a delicate frontpoint shuffle (made more interesting for Scott by a broken crampon) opened the door, and not long after we stood lashed to a small rock outcrop, looking up in some dismay at a massively overhanging cornice. The closer we got, the more it seemed to grow, until by the time we touched its underbelly, it had assumed truly gargantuan proportions. It took more than a ropelength of crawling beneath it before we could escape from the face, having completed our route: DTCB ("The Doctor, The Tourist, His Crampon and Their Banana": V M7, 700m).

—Raphael Slawinski, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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