New Routes in Rockies

By Dougald MacDonald ,

The final cascade on Aurora.Photos courtesy of Raphael Slawinski

November and December brought some of the best ice conditions in recent memory to the Canadian Rockies, and locals seized the day with repeats of well-formed testpieces and some superb new routes. Climbing with the Russian-Canadian Valeri Babanov, Raphael Slawinski put up Aurora (600m, WI6), which climbs an obvious ice streak on the North Face of Mount Amery. The two made the rough, half-day approach to a campsite below the face, climbed the route in a very long day (with crux pitches at the bottom and on the final cascade), rappelled the route, and camped again before heading back to the car. Also with Babanov (“I don’t know if it’s the Slavic soul or what, but we seem to get along very well”), Slawinski climbed Riders on the Storm (500m, WI4+) on the East Face of Mount Sarrail. The route climbs three ice and mixed tiers separated by snowfields. Paul McSorley and Jon Walsh climbed Rivers of Babylon (400m, WI5+, M6+), the central line in the bowl between Mixed Monster and Ice Nine on Mount Wilson. The two climbed four pitches of mostly rock to reach the ice, fixed ropes, and returned the next day to climb five pitches of thin ice to the top. No bolts were placed. In the Storm Creek area, near the Stanley Headwall, Chris Delworth, Dave Edgar, and Eamonn Walsh climbed The Silmarillion (WI6+ X). This aesthetic three-pitch line is characterized by very thin, fragile smears and pillars, protected by stubbies and knifeblades. On the second ascent, Will Kahlert added a direct third-pitch finish.

Sources: Raphael Slawinski,

Mount Amery's North Face and daunting approach. Aurora takes the streaks on the right.Photos courtesy of Raphael Slawinski

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