Temple North Face in Winter


Ben Firth and Raphael Slawinski have made a winter ascent of the much-tried Greenwood-Locke Route on the North Face of Mt. Temple in the Canadian Rockies. The two climbed the 3,900-foot route February 19-21, with one “marginal tent bivy” on the face and another night out during the descent. The Greenwood-Locke Route (5.9 A1 in summer) had seen around 10 winter attempts by Rockies veterans, including four by guidebook author Sean Dougherty. Firth and Slawinski soloed the long snow and ice couloir called the Dolphin and then belayed about a dozen pitches on the final rock headwall. It was here, Slawinski said, that their chosen style made the difference. “I believe the key to our successful ascent was the drytooling mileage Ben and I had put in over the years, both on sport mixed climbs and on more traditional rigs,” Slawinski said. The two had warmed up this winter by climbing multipitch 5.8 routes on the giant limestone crag of Yamnuska in their full winter gear. “As a result, we were not trying to rock climb up on the north face – it was too cold and snow for that – nor did we have to resort to aid,” Slawinski explained. “Aside from the occasional gloved move, we drytooled the whole route. This made the climbing much, much faster.” Slawinski said they averaged around one and a half hours to lead and follow each pitch, with the second jugging and carrying a heavy pack. “I think our climb showed yet again that these are not party tricks reserved for Vail or Haffner, but a set of skills that are extremely useful in the full-on winter alpine arena,” Slawinski concluded.