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Athabasca North Face Solo

Original Post
French Free · · Bivouac · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 5

Hey guys im new here. Im looking for beta from anyone who has climbed the north face of athabasca. Im toying with the thought of soloing this route mid july 2017. It would be my first solo climb. How are crevasses on the approach? Is the glacier "dry" this time of year? Also, how dry can i expect the crux mixed pitches to be? Thanks, Ty

c b · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 551

I was going to climb that route this past July. I ran into legendary Canadian Alpinist Barry Blanchard in the Bugs, when I asked him about the route, all he said was "it gets real up there"

Another guy from Yamnuska guides, when I asked him about the route - "You could not pay me enough to climb that thing. with global warming the short mixed crux, is now like 2 pithes of unprotectable 5.8 on the worst rock you can imagine.

I did also meet 2 people who climbed it in spring, and said early season is the time to climb it these days.

With those warnings from experienced Rockies Alpinists, we elected to climb Edith Cavell instead.

That being said, I have no idea what your skill level is like, maybe for you it will be a piece of cake, but I was totally scared off of trying the route

French Free · · Bivouac · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 5

Thanks for the response! I called a guide service last night and got a similar reply. Definately having some second thoughts. One guide in particular called anyone who attempts to solo it an idiot. I must be reading too much twight haha

c b · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 551

For sure, It used to be a moderate classic, but now with global warming its very rarely in climbable shape.

There are lots of other awesome routes in the Canadian Rockies. The route I did on Edith Cavell (East ridge) could easily be soloed and was spectacular. The last several hundred feet was all climbing on cornices - spooky fun.

Christian Mason · · Westminster CO · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 158

I've climbed both a variant of the regular NF (in October) and the Hourglass (in July). It was 8 or 9 years ago, so a large grain of salt is in order.

I would not recommend soloing this face, but if you are dead set on soloing, you can avoid the mixed on poor rock and get a steeper ice crux by doing the hourglass or the hyperspace bypass (both on the same ice face).

On the hourglass, you will have to choose between climbing under the rock bands, or a big honking serac. It groaned when I was on the route.

On the other routes (regular NF, hyperspace bypass/ NF Bypass) you'll just have to contend with the rock fall from the rock bands.

If he still works at there, there was a climbing ranger named Grant who worked at the ice fields office. He was a super friendly climber who is was very helpful with conditions beta and general advice. I think he used to posed either here or on rc.com as gargantum.

I'd second what others said about this face though. It may not be technically hard, but it's the real deal - and is more serious than the grades would otherwise suggest.

jon jugenheimer · · Madison, WI · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 2,149

1/2 and 1/2
very, unless it snowed the day before.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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