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Mount Athelstan
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Gnomon Direct T 
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YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 18 pitches, 2500', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c Easy Snow [details]
FA: D Brayshaw M Buda, July 11 1999
Season: June-September
Page Views: 969
Submitted By: Dru on May 1, 2009

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BETA PHOTO: The line of Lillarete's lower pitches as seen from...


Lillarete takes the middle of the flat face dropping west from Gnomon, the lower of two major towers. Climb a flake against the face to start, beginning left of a major chimney/gully, and moving into it on the second pitch. At the top of the 4th pitch, below a roof, move left out of the gully on steep finger cracks. Above, climb through short faces broken with ledges (can be difficult route finding) to gain a prominent diagonal crack that splits the upper buttress. Pitch 8 climbs a steep face on good holds and sparse pro above the terminus of this crack to a major ledge on the crest of the arete. Continuing up the buttress crest above this ledge is difficult (5.10+, see Gnomon Direct route) - drop onto a rubble and snow ledge on the north side of the buttress, best with snow in early season, and traverse it for a pitch, then climb two mid-5th pitches to the notch behind the Gnomon, the first of two major towers.

Now climb 4th class rock for about 5 pitches up the lower-angled ridge crest, good for simulclimbing. Where the ridge steepens into the second major tower, cross a notch and climb flakes and slabs on the right (south) side, gradually circling right as you ascend, for 4 long and 1 short pitch to the summit of Randy Stoltmann Tower. There is usually a two-piton rap station near this summit. Make one 25m rappel to a perched slab, then another 55m rappel to the notch behind RS Tower. From here, it is possible to escape down the couloir behind the notch (0ne or two 50m rappels and then downclimbing 55 degree snow and ice), or continue up the wall out of the notch for a long 60m, 5.7 pitch to the rim of Athelstan's summit plateau.

Slow parties have been known to bivy on route. The section from the chimney to the diagonal crack is where most off-route parties get lost, usually as a result of going too far left into a vertical rubble field. But it is possible to be almost on route and still climbing in the 10- range in this section.


From the bivy area, approach the flat front of the Randy Stoltmann Buttress across snow. Begin about 60m left of a prominent chimney splitting the face.

For descent, from the summit rim top-out option, head left (north), circling around to drop into the major couloir that borders the route to the north. Descend this - snow to 45 degrees. the descent from the north comes into this coulor about 200m below the top.

With good early season snow conditions it is possible to glissade from the summit rim to the bivy site and back out to the car in an hour and a half. Late in season with most of the snow gone, it can take up to 4 hours.

An optional descent without crampons descends Athelstan's SW ridge, following scree and then dropping into the forest (bushwack) and eventually down to the logging road about 3km south of the cars. This option requires carrying over all bivi gear, however, and is much slower than glissading in early season.


Full set of wired nuts and cams, 1 each to 4".
A few knifeblades and rap webbing are useful for the descent to back up or replace old stations.

Crampons and ice axe are almost always required for approach and descent.

Photos of Lillarete Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo topo of the Salal Creek Walls of Mt Athelsta...
BETA PHOTO: Photo topo of the Salal Creek Walls of Mt Athelsta...

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