Sunday, 27 January 2019

C-train: 200 meter mini alpine moderate above Bow Lake

The C-train.  Calgary's public transit. Could be riding the C-train or skiing across Bow Lake in a train of people, or alpine scrambling on Crowfoot Mountain.  Moderate alpine route open to all not just the elite double-M drytooler, sort of like public transit, open to all.  No overhead cables like some other venues and some other streetcar systems. Our original plan was to go the the A-Strain, but it was we went to the C-train, cause we aren't A-listers or B-teamers, more like C-trainers.

Complete Disclosure:
In the spring of 2018 we got avalanched
when a cornice collapsed above the gully.
Best done with a low snowpack.

Just completed a mini alpine route Jesse Bouliane and I started last spring.  This year Alik Berg and I  shimmied, chimneyed, and enjoyed the short approach just across Bow Lake from Num-ti-jah lodge. Dare I say I think this route is reminiscent of Sidestreet and the Slawinski/Takeda at the Icefields.  Hoping lots of people looking for a moderate day out enjoy this one.

Thanks to David Glavind and Canadian Alpine Tools for the pitons.

Route Description:

Approach: Ski across Bow Lake from Num-ti-jah Lodge to the base of the biggest gully on the northmost end of Crowfoot Mountain, just to the left of the normal Bow Hut approach.  Clearly visible from Num-ti-jah Lodge.  Stash skis and continue on the fan through a narrowing of the snow gully until below the small daggers of  the main amphitheatre gully (looks like a science project for stronger climbers).

Rack: 70s nice for rappelling. Single set to #3. Blades, spectre, angles.  Few screws for short pillar and 1st pitch (couple of stubbies).

C-train begins on an ice smear ten meters right of the daggers of the main amphitheatre and follows a corner system to an obvious gully up and right to the ridge.

Pitch 1: WI3, 15 meters. Sometimes dry, climb to an obvious ledge and fixed anchor below a steepening in the wall.

Pitch 2: M5, 40 meters. (Fixed anchor) Drytool steep twin cracks to start, and a second right facing corner at 20 meters to a belay on easy ledges.

Pitch 3: M4, 40 meters. Start up an easy right facing corner for 5 meters, then swim up snow in the gully to a huge cave with ice pouring down its right wall.

Pitch 4: WI3+, 60 meters. Climb out of the cave to the right then up a 8 meter vertical pillar (present in 2019, not in 2018).  Exit to the far right to avoid a steep wall above. Traverse until below a short (5 meter) wall with twin cracks.  A direct up the steep wall directly above the pillar looks possible.  If the ice pillar is not in a traverse on easy ledges to the right is possible.

Pitch 5: M4, 30 meters. Climb easily on twin face cracks to the left of the belay, then swim up snow in the gully to another huge cave.

Pitch 6: M6, 40 meters. Small people could possibly tunnel up through a narrow channel at the back of the cave (Alik is too big, he tried).  Failing that, climb up to the right side of the large roof chockstone, then awkwardly turn the roof on the right onto a perfect bivi ledge (upper end of possible tunnel). Above on the left wall is a wide steep crack (M6).  At its top traverse right on perfect edges to exit right onto snow ledges. Traverse right to a fixed anchor.
Rap the route.
Looking up pitch 2

Exit the cave to the right. Pitch 6

Looking down pitch 6 from top anchor.

Steep crack on the left wall to finish off. Pitch 6.

Route topo.  Follow the gully.

Looking down first two pitches.

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