Old Growth Cliff
Old Growth: big trees high up. Pretty neat to see such fat, thick skinned beauties like these found just below the cliffband that for the eastern Rockies these are pretty unique. I hope that logging road across the valley that you will see soon enough along the hike up, did not remove trees like these to make a table and chairs. The entire Sibbald area has a good share of cutblocks and ugly logging roads nearby so this stand of trees is a kinda ode to hoping they don’t go chopping these or you may be belaying next to a passing logging truck.
To get to Old Growth cliff, drive 9.7km from the Sibbald-Powderface junction(or 3.9km from Hwy#40). There are a few ‘Erosion’ signs about so look out for them to get your bearings but it should be obvious. In the winter an easily spotted grade 2/3 waterfall ice climb named Ancash forms half way up, and in the center of the forested hill.
The obvious gully between Old Growth and Anasazi House is the premier way to access either cliff. Park near a corner where a grassy burm is. Hike up the 20m burm and into the dark forest. You should soon pass a small boulder and if not you should pass a second small boulder. Follow a way through green grasses and head toward the gully passing a few fat trees. Drop down into the rocky creekbed, cross it, and go up then left along a uneven, steep grassy path with a tiny rockband, then up a short loose area of rock and grass to a good place to have a drink. The trail heads straight up (flagging)and makes zig-zags but is fairly obvious, and although it is steep the changing of the hiking scenery changes often so its kinda entertaining! Eventually you should reach the Y intersection in the trail at a fine shady place also a great rest spot. Follow the trail down south-east to get to Anasazi House, or turn NW and follow the trail up and into the forest. Zig-zag up some interesting hiking(certainly worthy of hiking this hillside for the sake of hiking) and the trail goes back east toward the gully and turns left up a short rock step and fallen trees, then sometime after you come into a desert sandy area that is pretty. Follow this up and go into thick shaded forest and emerges at the eastern end of the Old Growth at a site of bouldery debris from a collapse in geography. Funny because the far western end of this long cliff has also a collapse both due to the 2013 floods (very soon after we came up here, the first route we had attempted was now collapsed on the slope below -half of the route now lays buried in the rubble!)
Simply follow the base of the cliff and pass the routes as you head west. At one point near the climb One Fitty, the trail drops sharply down loose gravel and is not fun for the next 75m going down into the source of the waterfall(headwaters to ice Ancash). Hike up from this cold spot back up into the forest and the trail that parallels the rockwall. Follow it along passing routes and abandoned open routes, to where you will drop down again on rubbly underfoot, passing Canada Day Traverse. The trail follows pretty needle blanketed ground along the hike, turn a snout of rock and you will come to the rubbly debris of the western end and the end of the rock.
For the original and second rate approach, start from your car and head into the woods at at around the middle of the cutblock somewhere and a good scent will find the path up. Follow a humped ridge near a gully and go right to the Ancash boulder. Hike up steep loose trail above it and left on unpleasant ledgy ground to get into the drainage that has the waterfall of Ancash. Cross it the west and pick up a sketchy trail that goes up a short but sandy loose gully atop the broken cliffband at least 50m west of the waterfall. Once atop the cliffband walk west on a pretty open meadow trail that is a bit exposed feeling. After about 100m, the trail re-enters the forest and from here zig-zags up some really pretty surroundings where the biggest, mossiest trees exist anywhere yet explored in the Sibbald-Powderface area. I would only use this way if you are going ice climbing or really wanna see the bigger trees, however to go rock climbing I would choose the better approach mentioned already. You will hike under this rocky drainage from the right to the left and up onto a bench that follows along the grassy top of the cliff. At the left end of the ledge system you will enter back into the forest and where the name Old Growth is derived from. Follow a trail and flagging to the cliff where you come out near the westerly most section of Old Growth.
There are a number of belay bolts marking a future route however have been abandoned in some stage, so Old Growth has lots of potential for future new first ascentionists. The rock at Old Growth is some of the more chossy stuff in the Sibbald-Powderface area, but simply requires more exploring. The black or rusty rock is the amazing stuff to look for considering a new route anywhere in the entire area(route One Fitty is amazing rock). Large amounts of orange rock is usually not so good and the dirty white stuff is borderline plastered oatmeal and should be avoided. Dark grey rock is generally the second best to black n rust. For Old Growth the unclimbed black slab that makes a right-facing corner as you hike down from On Fitty would be the stand-out classic for stunning line. Seeing small critters and birds up here is rare.
The Joys of Getting Old, 5.9
FA- G.Cornell and G.Castillo, May 2013
After a snowshoe reconnaissance in 2012 we realized that the SE facing Sibbald cliffs seldom receive much snow and are commonly blown free and given the south facing sunny nature, the winter conditions are generally that yes you can make winter ascents or very early season ascents along Sibbald with very little in the way of poor conditions. Not sure as to why this specific line was the first climbed.
Its about 40m east of the snout of rock corner and is noticeable by a pretty fat tree growing out of the rock about 10 feet up. Pass the tree on the right up fun loose ledges up to a tree on the left where a bulge of ugly oatmeal rock exist. Thus, stem up the tree and rock until very solid rock meets with an obvious good fingercrack which sucks up nuts. Go up the tight corner with bad feet. Make a committing move over a juggy mini-roof on the left to a welcoming ledge. Save a few small nuts for the solid crack above and dark rock to the right and move up to a 2-bolt belay beside a birch. Great place to do one of those barefoot dangle your legs over the ledge belays. Sweet views. Rap(30m).
Canada Day Traverse, 5.7
FA- G.Cornell and G.Castillo, July 2013
From the snout corner, go east 75m to where the trail goes up/down on scree. Here is a flat area to belay from and bolt. Start to the right and go up foul rock and traverse carefully left to the first bolt. Locate some holds amongst the moss to get to the undercling crack(#2 cam). From the bulge, go right and up short dirty crack. I feel very Canadian as I type the memory of this. Go up left to a flat ledge with a tree. Stand, feel proud looking out upon Canada, sing the national anthem, feel like a lumberjack finding the way for David Thompson…ok maybe thats taking things a bit far. Walk around the corner out of sight of the belayer now. Good place to slot a few small -medium nuts to keep the traversed rope angling up. Go up solid fun jugs to a ledge. Go right to orange wall under the tree and follow darker rock left of the corner up to the tree. Rap(30m)
Len’s Den, 5.7
FA- G.Cornell and R.Makichuk, July 2017
Found along a flat area of the trail where a lower grey wall meets a higher yellow wall. Locate a right-facing sloping crack about 1.5″ wide on dark grey rock. Climb the crack to the top and a 2-bolt belay. The upper yellow rock looks interesting but was bailed on with an upturned nose. Gear used: cams .75, 1, 3, medium nuts.
One Fitty, 5.10a
FA- G.Cornell and R.Makichuk, July 2017
Found near where the trail goes up/down. Attractive grey/rusty rock makes it rather obvious. Climb clean black, almost purple rippled rock passing a bolt. Small left-facing corner above has a possible cam placement. Clip a fixed piton and use the snout as a foothold to move climber’s right to stand up. Sink some gear in the horizontal crack and step down and back left(very fun) and far out left to a small foothold. Search for a one-finger hole to crank upward progress. Go out right to a bleached slab and up and left passing some bolts and eventually make a step around right after a high bolt, to a 2-bolt belay. Rap(30m) Gear used: 2x .75 cams, .5 cam.
FA- G.Cornell and R.Makichuk, July 2017
An obvious, questionable, orange left-facing corner. Ramble up a thorny grass ledge to a tree below the corner and a bolt. Start on the left edge of the ledge and go up choss moving right under choss(wear a helmet!) to the start of the corner. Climb the corner which is kinda fun. Handholds on the left ridge are enjoyable. The black rock near the exit looks deplorable but is solid and an optical illusion. Be careful with all holds on the final moves leaving the corner onto the ledge and 2-bolt belay. Rap(20m) Gear used: cam 2/3, medium hexes, blue tricam, medium nuts, TCU.
Buried in a Pauper’s Grave, 5.9R
FA- G.Cornell, June 2015
Found on the far east end of the cliff near to where the trail from below appears. Look for a dark deep crack with a bolt on white rock on the left- this was rope soloed. Climb the crack using good holds on the right wall Place a #2 in the crack where it steepens upward which will be your last piece for a bit of run-out excitement (unless the crack is climbed directly I suppose). Leave the crack and move out right and go up to a small overhung bulge. A very small nut may be able to protect for a certain directional pull only, so fear and care are your focus here! Or reach around far to the left and place a #3-5 cam in the far back of the ground crack. Good place to protect the traverse. Scramble up loose ledges to a 2-bolt belay. Rap(20m).