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Early Season Canadian Rockies Route Explosion by Swiss Team


Anthamatten enjoying some fine Austrian energy beverage on his and Steck's new route on Crowfoot Mountain, Canadian Rockies. [Photo] Courtesty of Ueli Steck

"On the way down I tried to fix the protection. Then it was Simon's turn to climb the pitch, and then it was my turn again. It took us some time but we freed both pitches." Naturally protected mixed lines of this difficulty are scarce anywhere, including the Rockies.

Steck, working on "The Big Pitch" on Cockfight (M9+ WI5+), Crowfoot Mountain, Canadian Rockies. [Photo] Courtesty of Ueli Steck


The pair put up a final new route on Crowfoot Mountain, home to Crowfoot Falls (V WI5, 150m) and Political World (III WI5+ R, 170m), before ending their trip. They had been watching the face for their entire stay in Canada, waiting for conditions to improve. Finally, with three days remaining before a flight back to Europe, the face had iced up enough to give it a try. The pair attempted the route with their light Howse Peak rack, resulting in a retreat. "We climbed the first two pitches to the big overhang. I started the "Big Pitch," but we didn't have a power drill—of course, we had the rack for Howse Peak. I ended up [having] to give up very fast; the first part of the pitch has few features and [nowhere to place] natural protection...

"Wednesday we were up again. With the right equipment. The equipment we had from Will [Gadd's] impressive garage... [perhaps it's better to call it a] retail store. We finished in the dark. The pitch took us the whole day to put up. So we were pretty happy. But we had only one day left, and the climbing was hard."

Steck and Anthamatten descend their final new route, Cockfight (M9+ WI5+), in the dark on their last day. [Photo] Courtesty of Ueli Steck

Returning to their new line, they climbed the first two pitches as quickly as possible, knowing that the third pitch would be the crux. The 45-meter section overhangs 20 meters, and without the few bolts installed by the Swiss, the route would be largely unprotectable. After hours of effort, Steck and Anthamatten both freed the pitch on lead, then proceeded to climb the last pitch of the route, a free-standing pillar of vertical ice, to the summit in the dark. They named the new route Cockfight (M9+ WI5+)."We had a perfect finish yesterday. OK, Howse Peak didn't work out, but that's the game."

Steck and Anthamatten on the top of Rocketbaby (VI M8+ WI5+ X). [Photo] Courtesty of Ueli Steck

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