Wedge Alpine: New winter routes: “Maul,” and “Klatu Verata…” . (photos)

The north-facing side of the Wedge has a large bowl with a roughly 300M rock wall on the left side of it as seen from the Wedge Pond. The following two routes are visible from the road. Both are surprisingly high quality and very worth doing. They are definitely alpine in feel and location, but without a long drive from Calgary or Canmore. If these routes were in Colorado there would be lines, especially for the Maul—it’s thin with enough ice to climb but all the gear is rock, pretty fun.

Approach: Approach the N face of the Wedge via the popular hiking/scrambling trail, starting at Wedge Pond. It is best to walk up the rounded ridge all the way to the base of the mountain (packs can be left here), then traverse down and right below the rock to the routes. About two hours from the car in decent snow conditions. Beware of loading on the traverse to the routes, in mid-November 2005 it was reasonable but if it slides the ride will would be sporting.

Maul takes the right-hand gash, Klatu the left.

The Maul, 300M, WI thin, M7. (photos)

FA: Raphael Slawinski and Will Gadd, Nov. 20th, 2005.

Rack: Knifeblades, misc. pins, nuts, cams. As Raphael notes for Klatu, screws are excess baggage.

P1. Follow the thin rivulet of ice up the groove. 70M. Cool belay in a slot. Good gear but takes time to find it.

P2. Up a steep bulge with technical gear, ice up the groove. 50M. Belay on left. Bit spicy.

P3. Snowslope to the base of the corner. 60M. Put the belay on the left to shelter it.

P4. Pull the fun corner with technical footwork but excellent cams, fixed Spectre, and on up. 60M. Belay on left.

P5. Wrestle the chimney into submission with good pins and blobs of ice. 50M.

P6.  Climb over a surprisingly steep bit of choss and head for the summit ridge. 30M

Descent: Walk south along the ridge, down gully and back to packs. A full day.

Klatu Verata N... 200 m, WI3 M6 (photos)
FA: Robert Rogoz & Raphael Slawinski, Nov. 13, 2005

KVN follows the left-hand and shorter of two gully/chimney systems on the N face of the Wedge. Climb a pitch up a low-angle corner with a narrow stream of thin styrofoam (fun climbing with excellent rock gear). Slog up the snow gully for about two ropelengths to where it dead-ends in a big overhang. The crux exit pitch avoids the overhang by a traverse right on a steep snow ledge to an arête. From the end of the traverse, the pitch goes more or less straight up, with increasingly difficult drytooling and mixed climbing. 70 m ropes hit the ridgeline with a couple of metres to spare. A belay in the loose rock and scree at the top may be difficult to arrange. To descend, walk easily down the backside to rejoin the approach ridge. Take a full rock rack (set of wires, cams to #3 or 4 Camalot, good selection of pins); however, screws are excess baggage.


WG Note--My dad, Ben, did the first ascent of some part of this face in the spring of about 1975. I remember being up there that day and chucking big rocks off the ridge and starting massive avalanches with instruction from Eckhard Grassman, who short-roped me up there. Bit of history...