The West Face of Mt. Alberta. Courtesy of Raphael Slawinski.
Raphael Slawinski and Eamonn Walsh made the first ascent of the West Face of 11,873-foot Mt. Alberta, one of the Canadian Rockies’ most daunting peaks, in mid-September. The West Face had long been a goal of alpinists in the Rockies, and an American team had nearly climbed the face in 1963, but its isolation and difficulty deterred most suitors.
Slawinski first attempted the face in July with Rich Akitt but chose a poor approach across a treacherous ledge system and never reached the start of the “flying buttress” of rock he hoped to climb. He returned in September with Walsh, and this time scrambled from below the face, then climbed a snowfield to reach the steep rib. Seven all-free pitches of often poor rock, up to 5.10+, gained easier ground near the top. Slawinski “was the rope gun and I was the mule,” Walsh said. “It worked out well, as the old bloke was on fire and did some pretty impressive leads, pulling off some hard moves on very poor rock.”
Eamonn Walsh follows some choice stone on the West Face of Alberta. Photo by Raphael Slawinski.
The two descended via the original Japanese Route on the Southeast Face, with darkness falling just as they completed the final rappels.
In February 2005, Slawinski, Walsh, and Scott Semple completed the first winter ascent of Alberta, by the Japanese Route.
Read Slawinski’s account of the West Face climb and see more photos at Arcteryx.com/news.aspx.
Date of Ascent: September 15, 2007
Raphael Slawinski leads steep, poorly protected rock on Alberta’s West Face. Photo by Eamonn Walsh.
Slawinski descends Mt. Alberta’s South Ridge. Photo by Eamonn Walsh.