Type: Trad, Ice, Snow, Alpine, Grade V
FA: Ron Perla, Tom Spencer 1961
Page Views: 11,878 total · 154/month
Shared By: John Peterson on Dec 19, 2012
Admins: Kate Lynn

You & This Route

4 Opinions

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This historic route was nearly climbed in 1930 by Underhill and O'Brien before the successful 1961 scent.

You would be crazy to get your information on this route from a website. This is a serious route that requires significant commitment. I'll share my story but the difficulty depends greatly on conditions and my experience may not be typical.

My full experience is at wiki.western.edu/mcis/index… - take this for what it's worth. The difficulty of this route depends greatly on the condition of the gargoyles - if the snow is in bad condition retreat is the only option.

Here's a few things to know:

The lower part of the route up to the Black Towers is mostly rock with small bits of ice to cross. We encountered climbing up to about 5.7 but most of it is much easier. There are few good anchors and plentiful loose rock. We stayed near the left side of the face. It's possibly to avoid some of the harder climbing by climbing on the lower angled terrain to the right.

We passed the Black Towers through a chimney on the left - this seemed fairly obvious. The only fixed gear we found on the route was a pin at the top of the chimney.

Once you attain the ridge proper you have to deal with a number of vertical steps and nearly a mile of often questionable snow gargoyles to reach the top. We passed most of the vertical steps on the right except for the final short one where a short trip to the Emperor face was required. Don't expect any solid anchors once you hit the gargoyles.


A small rock rack and some ice / snow gear.
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
As I recall, High Above the Canadian Rockies: Spectacular Aerial Photography has some amazing aerial shots of the Emperor Ridge. The author is Russ Heinl. Jan 31, 2013
Joe Catellani
Seattle, wa
Joe Catellani   Seattle, wa
excellent video about an ascent of Wishbone Arete by Janelle and Mark Smiley vimeo.com/52307295?

excellent aerial photos of Robson pbase.com/nolock/cdnrockies… Oct 8, 2013
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, ME
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, ME
Great video. Sums up the whole idea of "choss." In order to bolt that thing into oblivion to make it "safe" you'd need a bulldozer first. Feb 11, 2016
One must channel their inner bulldozer to get up and down this over-sized badass cairn. A truly amazing climb, it has a little bit (and sometimes a lot) of everything. We circumvented the gargoyles by traversing the west face to the upper Wishbone Arete where we had to contend with a maze of Dr. Seuss snow, mush, and ice for ~200 meters. Descent down the Shwartz Ledges was not chill- lots of wet slides and running water, but it paled in comparison to our bullshit descent from the hut, oh bear!
Didn't encounter any rock sequences harder than 5.6, but I don't know what AI3 means so I won't contest that much. Aug 14, 2016