Rare Ascent of Alberta North Face

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Mt. Alberta (3,619m/11,873'), with the steep north face on the right. Photo by Jay Mills / Cdnalpine.blogspot.com.

Mt. Alberta (3,619m/11,873

Jay Mills and Dana Ruddy climbed the original route on the north face of Mt. Alberta in the Canadian Rockies in mid-August, making a single-push and nearly free ascent of the rarely climbed testpiece. The route has been climbed only a handful of times since its first ascent in 1972 (5.9 A3, Glidden-Lowe), although two new lines up the crux headwall (Brazeau-Walsh, 2006, and Anderson-House, 2008) have been established in the meantime.

From the Alberta hut, Mills and Ruddy approached the face at dawn, climbed a few easy rock pitches at the base, and then soloed the 500-meter ice sheet that leads to a rotten band of rock and the crux headwall. On the vertical and overhanging headwall, the two free-climbed up to the A3 roof pitch, where Ruddy had to hang a couple of times to clear accumulated snow and ice from the limestone holds; he also fell once while leading this pitch. After a short bit of ice and more 5.10 climbing, they reached the top of the rock headwall, cooked dinner, and briefly considered a bivy before deciding after 20 minutes of attempted sleep that it was too cold to stay still. The two climbed several rope lengths of 65-degree ice to reach the summit ridge and made the long descent by the Japanese Route in the dark. After 30 hours on the go, they returned to the hut to find it occupied, and so, after eating what was left of their food and pounding some coffee, they walked five hours back to the car to end the massive effort.

Dana Ruddy climbing steep limestone on Mt. Alberta’s north face. Photo by Jay Mills / Cdnalpine.blogspot.com.

Dana Ruddy climbing steep limestone on Mt. Alberta’s north face. Photo by Jay Mills / Cdnalpine.blogspot.com.

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Dana Ruddy leads a verglased chimney on Alberta’s north face. Photo by Jay Mills / Cdnalpine.blogspot.com.

This is likely the first single-push ascent of the original route on the north face of the 11,873-foot peak, and in better conditions it likely would have gone all-free. As it was: VI 5.10 A0.

Date of Ascent: August 2009

Sources:Cdnalpine.blogspot.com, Jay Mills, American Alpine Journal

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