La Pomme d'or
Ice, Alpine, 1200 ft, 6 pitches, Grade V,
Avg: 4 from 6
FA: Kurt Winkler, Jim Tierney, march 1980
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La Pomme D'or is THE classic long ice route in La Malbaie, Quebec. Many hardmen (and Women!) have cut their teeth on this beautiful climb. From multi day adventures to day long solos, this climb gets traffic and deserving so. This climb is a classic in every sense of the word.
The route can range from 5 to 6+ depending on your line of attack. The opening pitches are in the easy 4 range until about 1/3 the way up. They things get steeper. On the upper 1/3 you can choose to move either right or left and select from vertical pillars to lower angle ice In my experience the far left was easiest with the right being harder.
P1 M3 PG/R 30m. First pitch below the headwall you go up on the right slab slinging bushes and sketchy rock pro. You can setup a belay here or start traversing left on the ramp but you also may want to simu-climb to avoid the drag to the next anchor.
P2 M3 PG/R 40m. Traverse left using rock pro and depending on the conditions you may end up placing stubbies in the ice. Anchor off of pitons at the end of the traverse, 5m right of the ice corner which marks the start of the ice climb.
P3 WI5 PG 50-60m. First 10m you may only get 10cm screws in though there’s some rock pro on the right.
P4 WI5 50-60m.
P5-6 WI5-6 50-60m. The second to last pitch is often the crux, a direct approach can get you into some WI6+ territory.
Around 31 km on the road from the first park gate.
As of winter 2010-2011, you could drive past the outer gates and into the park itself on minimally maintained road to the inner gate. This shortens the approach significantly. In the past you could hire a snowmobile to shuttle you the rest of the way. This is currently illegal but still practised by some. For the human powered approach begin a 8 mile or so gently rolling ski approach along the un-plowed road. Pass a damn and then you can begin skiing on the river itself. You will pass many climbs in route but La Pomme will be noticeable off in the distance on your left.
On the river below the climb you can look up to scout your approach up the talus, and snowfield. There are alternative starts but the main route goes up a tight corner at the top of couloir that cannot really be seen from below.
Many parties camp below the route upstream a short ways in the woods. Also across the river on the road side there is a small designated camping site with a picnic table as well.
The route goes with screws alone. Bring enough to build all your anchors off of screws as well as protect each pitch. Later in the season you will usually find a nice line of V-threads leading the way down. Trust them at your own risk!
The line we took on March 11, 2019
View from camp/river. You can see the very distinct separate lines you can take on the upper sections. Each line has a varying level of difficulty. Anywhere from 4+ to 5+
Earl Alderson leading as the climb get serious - March 1999
Total view on approach, La Pomme is the line on the right
Overview of route on approach
Malbaie River below
Where the harder climbing begins about 1/3 the way up the route.
Earl Alderson with 'Pepe' on the ride in - March 1999