New Line Blazed Up Alberta's North Face

By Dougald MacDonald ,

The red line marks the new Brazeau-Walsh route on the North Face of Mt. Alberta; dotted yellow line marks the approximate location of the 1972 Glidden-Lowe first-ascent route. Photo from 2003, when Walsh first spotted the potential new route.Photo courtesy of Jon Walsh

Chris Brazeau and Jon Walsh blitzed a new route up the mighty North Face of Mt. Alberta in the Canadian Rockies, climbing the 3,300-foot face all-free in a single push on September 7. The two Canadians simulclimbed two pitches of mixed ground at the base of the wall, and then soloed the sweeping ice field that leads to a limestone headwall. They climbed the vertical headwall in six hard pitches to the right of the original route on the face, including a 55-meter pitch that involved both M6 mixed climbing and 5.11 rock, and, Walsh said, “sucked up the entire rack.” After a complicated descent from the 11,873-foot summit, they returned to the bivy hut a little over 30 hours after leaving.

Any ascent of the North Face of Alberta is extremely rare, and it is unlikely the face has ever seen a free ascent, let alone by a new route through the headwall. The North Face was first climbed in 1972 by the prolific George Lowe and Jock Glidden at 5.9 A3, and it is still considered one of the great prizes of the range.Comment on this story

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