Mt.Robertson West Face Route, 5.11a 600+m
FA- A.Genereux and J.Marshall, October 1988
This route took two days climbing the obvious dihedral up the center of the west face. Two peaks actually make up the summit block but is not obvious from below. You will be climbing towards the northern lower top.Some pitches are excellent on this alpine rock route particularly through the sustained middle section. A competent party should be able to do it in a very long day.
From the Burstall Pass parking lot hike the big trail to an open area. Turn left and go up the valley that leads to the Robertson Glacier. Follow the moraine until under the route, near the glacier toe. The first ascent party arrived at the base at 11am leading to an uncomfortable sloping ledge bivi at the top of the crux pitch but had completed the next pitch fixing a line prior to biving.It is recommended to go fast and light but a better bivy spot is at the start of the crux pitch.
THE RAP: a rap was established down the west face roughly 50m towards the south summit from the top out point. The rap consists of nine full rope rappels(believed 55m ropes). The climb was finished in a severve electrical storm and the first 3 raps are off single bolts which should be doubled and/or replaced. The lower rappels are off fixed pins as bolts ran out. In the confusion of the storm, Jeff left his camera at the top rap and may still be there!
Note: it’s unknown what condition the cap screw are now in and new bolts may need to be drilled. You may want to continue to the summit and complete a route up the north face then descend to the col between the Haig and Robertson glaciers then descend back north down the Robertson glacier for a full- on alpine expierence. On receiving this info for Kananaskis Obscure, Andy said the team stripped totally naked part way down the rap to a tiny ledge to get outta wet clothes – doing so actually stopped serious hypothermia.
TO START: locate an easy looking wide corner gully roughly in the center of the west face. Above and slightly to the right there is a striking dihedral formed at the left edge of a huge bedding plane tipped at about 80 degrees that climbs the upper part of the wall.You essentially climb the gullycrack then do a rising traverse to a steep crack that climbs a headwall into the corner at the edge of the bedding plane. This obvious line then takes you to the saddle between the 2 peaks but closer to the north peak. The pitches described below are approximate in grade and length due to Andy’s poor memory.
P1-3: 5.8, 150m. Climb the gully/corner mostly easy stepped climbing; several belays are possible. At one point we hit a bulge with very rotten rock and we moved left 10m onto the wall to belay off pins on a small ledge.
P4: 5.10c, 55m. Climb directly up to overcome a short steep section(5. then easy 4th class climbing leads into a grotto formed by the wide crack. At the back of the grotto climb the left wall on stepp juggy climbing to a good perched ledge on the left side of the wide crack to belay (bolt maybe?no hanger)
P5: 5.10a, 55m. Move across the wide crack out right to stepped rock heading for a good hand-crack. Climb the excellent crack for 10m then head up and right to a ramp/corner at the base of the headwall to belay in a good crack.
P6: 5.7, 30m. Follow the ramp right to the base of a steep crack to belay. This is directly below the left edge of the big tipped bedding plane. Belay on gear. Note: the next pitch above eats up medium to large cams so try to conserve them.
P7: 5.11a, 40m. Climb the steep crack sustained at 5.10 for 20m. Take intermittent cracks with increasing difficulty slightly up and right to a left facing corner. Continued steep face climbs the left wall past a small bulge onto slab 2-bolt belay (no hangers). This is an excellent pitch but I remember some fragile rock – be a little suspicious.
P8: 5.10d, 55m. This is an incredible pitch that stays at the hard 5.10 grade for most of its’ length and swallows a variety of gear. Climb the steep dihedral at the edge of the bedding plane sustained to a semi hanging belay on the right 2 bolts close together (no hangers).
P9: 5.10c, 45m. Continue up the corner (not as sustained as the lower pitch) to a belay below an overhanging crack. Where there is a change in levels of the bedding plane.
P10: 5.10c, 55m. Climb the overhanging crack awkward then go up steeply to gain a body eating off-width crack. There is pro at the back of the crack but the superb steep slab on the right wall is tempting. Climb the crack or take the slab.
P11: P12: 5.9, 5.8, 90m. This part of the climb is somewhat vague in my mind but generally finishes up the same crack/gully system to the top of the wall. I don’t believe there was any climbing harder than 5.9 and the rock gets a little scrappy with scree ledges on the last pitch. There was no belay on top, I travelled back on the scree and down for friction. I was the substantial anchor. Note** The description is reasonably accurate but I might have mixed things up a little. You pretty much follow your nose and climb the obvious features- this climb definitely follows a line. Note** The rappel route will put you down about 30-40m to the right (south) of where you started and should take about two hours. You will need new slings unless you want to install ring-bolts? Just kidding but they would be great. The upper half is down a steep slabby face, the lower half follows a crack and gully system. From the third rappel it’s slightly overhanging and featureless; it’s a bit tricky to reach the next anchor(pin/bolt)-knots in the end of your rope is very advisable.
THE GEAR: double ropes, large rack including TCU’s, double set of wires, a complete set of cams with a double set 2” to 4” are useful for the crux.You will need to bring hangers, a selection of pitons, and a bolt kit is recommended. They brought 20 handdrills X 9/16” and 10 hangers but they stripped the hangers as they climbed.