"Great Western" (Micro brew from Saskatchewan)
North face (winter route) on Mt. Stephen, V, WI5R, M7 off width, 2000m. F.A. Rob Owens, Scott Semple (both raised in Saskatchewan)
April 8th and 9th, 2003 (Yoho Nat. Park, B.C.), 3199m
Approach: As for “Extra Light” . One hour.( See Waterfall Ice in the Can. Rockies, Josephson 4th edition, 2002)
Route: The route lies on the North Face of the mountain and follows a series of mixed gullies, ice runnels and pillars. The ice pillars do not always form and are essential to a quality experience. 1900 meters of climbing.
Start with climbing “Extra Light” 245m, WI4. Above this the route follows lower angled terrain up and left, aiming for a deep gash that presents several pitches of high quality mixed climbing including one short pitch (crux, M7 off width) past a massive chockstone.
Above the gash the terrain eases off and opens up. Follow terrain up to a cliff band that houses the ‘first pillar’ (60m, WI5r). Several moderate, fun mixed pitches are followed above this to the ‘second pillar’ (50m, WI5). Again, this pillar is followed by several high quality moderate mixed pitches until the terrain opens up and kicks back.
NOTE: Up to this point it may be possible to escape to the right and follow easy, albeit avalanche prone slopes to the West ridge.
Follow open snow gullies up and left to gain the North Ridge (see Alpine climbs in Can. Rockies, Dougherty 1996). Climb an endless amount of terrain combining sections of the ridge with more exposed snow/mixed gullies west of the ridge. Retreat at this point would be very involved. The final pitch climbs a short gully to the east of the ridge. The first ascentionists bivied in a snow cave one pitch below the summit.
Descent: Descend the South ridge approx. 100m and then follow a steep (avalanche prone) gully to the West. Once the angle eases essentially pick your way through the alpine terrain heading SW, avoiding exposure to potentaially dangerous slopes. Once below the tree line follow the drainage to Field. The ‘Fossil Bed’ trail may be gained eventually on the ridge North of the drainage. 3-5 hours depending on conditions.
Take money to enjoy the amazing food at Truffle Pigs Café in Field.!!
Stable snow conditions is essential.
Take a full rack. Cams to 3”, a set of stoppers, 6-8 pitons, 8 ice screws.
The F.A. took 32.5 hours car to car including a 7 hour bivy near the summit. The massive descent was done in a complete whiteout, without a map (thanks to Scott for leaving the map in the car). The ascentionists were roped up for most of the climb using a rack of T-blocs to attain safer simul-climbing.