Mt.Lorette West Ridge Direct, 5.4
FA- G.Cornell and G.Langford, July 1999
Another way to avoid the cool kids on the east ridge is to be silly and bash up the west side of Lorette and meet’em on the summit. Just before the base of Lorette’s East Ridge, bushwack up into the rushing creek and canyon that cuts a path below the south face. Somewhere downstream, slog up the long slopes that never end to the base of the west ridge. Scramble up rock slopes tot he actual beginnings of the ridge. Climb a few rope lengths, passing one bolt for a belay in a exposed notch. Continue up staying on top or just slightly over the less exposed north side for about four more rope lengths to a 2-bolt belay just down on the north side after following a crack. This was the site of a meeting with a ball of Saint Elmo’s Fire during the first ascent. Traverse a ledge left to a large scree bowl (visible from the trailhead below Nakiska). At the top of the slope climb a steep but easy and fun yellow corner on jugs for 25m. Walk up to the summit in 40m. Descent is made by hiking north and dropping into the Lorette descent gully and back to Stoney Trail.
Don’t carry too many pieces: gear to 3″ and about 6 slings. Rapping the west ridge would suck, get to the top!
I had just finishing leading the crack on the north side and found a suitable place to belay near the end of the rope. There was no place for any pro worthy and slip backwards would not be good. I drilled two bolts with hammer drill eager to get it done as a medium/small yet ferocious looking charcoal black cloud moved toward us and the summit not far away.
After setting Geoff, who runs a successful adventure racing company, on belay I begin to pull up the rope. The black cloud is now over us like an alien ship. It starts to drizzle but that turns to pretty good showers in moments. Then a crack of thunder and out of this black alien ship sends down a speeding bright blue ball of fire. I actually saw lightning shaped like a pure blue fireball! It hit the ridge and let off a good show of sparks very very near to where Geoff is sitting at belay 50m away but hidden from view. It is raining very hard. I yell.
“Geoff are you OK? Your on belay! Your ON BELAY!”
Nothing but the sound of broken lightning damages ridge falling down the north side or a cliffband and down to the lower scree sounding like a river of gravel moving finally.
I keep yelling for Geoff but I get nothing. OMG, did I bring my friend up here to his nearly mythologically religious death? Did the fireball hit him, burn through his belay, and the sound of rocks falling is also Geoff going down with shards of hot limestone? No.
“Fffffffffuuuuuuuuucccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!” Geoff lets out at the top of his lungs.
And, “Cliiiimmmbbing!” he screams out.
I start taking the rope in like mad, he is moving fast and impressive on the soaked rock. Once he turns the corner and enters the crack I can scan him for injuries but I see none visible.
He hauls up the crack to me and clips in. Panting, he tells a harrowing tale of also seeing the blue ball like 10m from him.
That must have been a powerful thing to witness, pure energy.
Without any thoughts of hanging about, I leave the belay and traverse crumbly ledges to a large ledge that can be identified from the car. Geoff followed fast. The ledge is large enough to safely remove ropes and gear which we did and left it down slope while we hit under a overhang from the rain and that meanie of a cloud. Within half an hour the black cloud moved on and was replaced by blue skies. We climbed a fun yellow crack to the summit cairn a short walk away. Half way down the descent gully but near the forest, the bastard cloud returned and dropped rain on us again but left out the fear part.
Rainbow Ridge, 5.5
Forgotten and ignored, this ridge appears as a boring hike from the road, hardly worth effort crossing the river for as all the efforts are left for the popular east ridge of Lorette. However, it should be noted this is an optical illusion and this satellite NE wing of Lorette may only be 5.5 or less, it is complex and exposed as it gradually curves higher to its’ own summit. Expect up to 15 full rope lengths that is mostly simul-climbed with short cruxes needing a belay. Some may consider this route actually more involved than Lorette and worthy of a popularity shift in the future. A bold statement? See for yourself.
Hike into the Lorette descent gully and gain the humped ridge on the right at its’ lowest point, just past the rock bluff snout. Walk up the treed ridge to the start of the rock. Climb up an easy break in the center for about 90m to its’ top. Walk up to regain the rock ridge and follow it to the end, a rather unclimatic summit. Continue down a very narrow section back to the scree. Walk down the Lorette descent gully back to Stoney Trail.
This is a peak were the journey is better than any summit glory, expect none really. Do expect very narrow curving ridges, traverses on walls, tetering blocks, down-climbing on lead and only one piece of fixed pro: a piton left just below the true summit. A highly recommended adventure. Don’t bring too much gear, a slim rack to 3″ and six slings is good.