Rocky Mountains 2004

S Stevom Housom sva bila tri tedne v Kanadi kjer sva plezala v tamkajšnjih stenah in zaledenelih slapovih. Najin vzpon prek severne stene North Twin je bil deležen precejšne pozornosti tamkajšnje alpinistične javnosti. Celotna tura je bila res zanimiva. Jaz se pred turo nisem zavedal velikega epsko – legendarnega ozadja te stene zato se mi je kot največja značilnost ture vtisnil v spomin pravi občutek odmaknjenosti, ki se je z vsakim dnem ture le še stopnjeval. Z mislijo na telefon, radijsko postajo ali reševalce se ni bilo treba ukvarjati, ker niti na cesti ni signala, do pod stene je cel dan dostopa, stena je razmeroma strma in visoka, sestop pa kar dolg. Pet dni sva bila res sama. Intenzivnost doživetja je bila zaznamovana s tem, resnično zanimivim plezanjem in izgubljeno školjko Stevovega levega čevlja tretji večer ture. Celodneven sestop v megli in sneženju prek obsežnega ledenika Columbia Icefield je dobro mero negotovosti zadržal skorajda do trenutka, ko sva zvečer petega dne spet stopila na cesto. Po vseh preteklih alpinističnih izkušnjah sem vesel, da tovrstno doživetje ni povezano le s potovanjem v popularno Azijo.

Iz Kanade sem se po vzponu v North Twin preselil v Kolorado kjer sem plezal predvsem smeri s sprotnim nameščanjem varovanja v okolici Boulderja in v Black Canyonu.

NORTH TWIN – third ascent after many years

Short report

On April 4, 2004 Marko Prezelj and Steve House skiied up Wooley Creek, over Wooley Shoulder, down Haberl Creek (skis were left halfway down) and crossed a glacier to the base of the 4,500' North Face of North Twin and established a bivy at the base of the lowest rockband after fixing half a pitch.
First intention was to climb the face in winter conditions (though just outside of the official winter season) by whatever route seemed most logical and with the clear understanding that we might not climb anything at all. There were only two routes on the face (George Lowe-Chris Jones, August 1974 and Barry Blanchard-Dave Cheesemond, August 1985) and neither route had been repeated in summer or winter.
We carried food for 5 days and fuel for 6. We had one synthetic sleeping bag, a 5'x8' tarp, and a shovel blade that fits our ice tool shafts. Our rack consisted of 13 nuts, 10 cams, 12 pitons, and 6 ice screws. Extra clothing consisted of a change of socks each and a synthetic belay (DAS) parka each. The leader climbed with a light pack and with leashless tools. The second climbed with a heavier pack, sometimes with the second pack hanging off his harness, and with leashed tools.
The first rockband, though short, gave us a taste of what was to come. The first pitch offered steep and difficult drytooling in thin cracks, and necessitated some pulling on gear. The second pitch required a tension traverse from the belay and insecure mixed climbing on poorly adhered ice with hard-won rock gear for protection. There was a clear pattern with just about every one of the 17 »hard« pitches—neither of us ever knew if the route would continue to go until we got to the end of the rack and / or rope and built an anchor. This kept the element of adventure high which we both consider important to a successful outing, more important than whether we complete a route or not.
After continuing over the serac and snow we had to climb two more serious mixed pitches and short traverse on snow over rock to the good bivi spot on the junction with 1974 route. The end of the first full day on the face (April 5th) saw Marko fixing a pitch (again to ensure good warm up next morning) half-way up the face at the point where our line joined the unrepeated 1974 George Lowe-Chris Jones route. We bivied comfortably on the highest snowband that traverses the face (»Traverse of the Chickens«).
On April 6th we ascended the rope and Marko led the first block of the day, 4 pitches of steep rock climbing. Much of it was freeclimbed (drytooling), but there were significant amounts of aid as well, including what we presumed to be the »thin A3-A4« pitch described by George Lowe and Chris Jones. After that long lead, Steve started his block, finishing his third pitch at a thin crack in a steep headwall 30 minutes after sunset in full darkness. Steve fixed the rope there and descended to Marko's stance, which being the size of one boot, was the biggest stance they had seen since the morning. With some chopping they were able to enlarge the stance to approximately 12'x20', just big enough for 3, maybe 4, butt-cheeks. They dug snow out of cracks and scooped it off of other small ledges and hung in their harnesses while they prepared some food and water.
While dinner was being prepared, Steve chose to change his socks. When replacing the outer shell of his left boot the loop on the back of the boot suddenly broke and he lost control of it. The shell was seen briefly hovering in the light of their headlamps before it quietly disappeared down the face. After much cursing, and some discussion, Prezelj and House decided that it would be quicker, and safer to continue to the top of the route and travel out by traversing the long, but non-technical, Columbia Icefields to the Athabasca Glacier and the Icefields Center.
So it was an austere pair that finished dinner of soup and dehydrated mashed potatoes and rigged their tarp overhead before they squeezed onto the ledge, and with their feet on a backpack, pulled the sleeping bag over them and spent an uncomfortable night. Their repose was cut short at 5:00am when winds near the summit started to cause constant spindrift to dump on their ineffectively-rigged tarp and get into their sleeping bag. It is worth remembering that at approximately this point George Lowe and Chris Jones had »six pitons, some worthless nuts, and three ice screws« (AAJ 1975, pg. 1-8)
Unable to use the stove in the spindrift-shower House and Prezelj started without food or water and ascended the fixed pitch and Marko lead one traversing pitch towards the exit ice gully at the top of the face. House followed with one normal boot-crampon combination and one inner boot wrapped with athletic tape to protect it from abrasion. From the end of that pitch the pair made a very traversing rappel, during which one of the rope sheaths was badly damaged. From that stance a short, 20 foot lower brought Marko into the exit ice gully, which to their consternation, was completely devoid of ice. Marko led a long and difficult mixed pitch up patchy ice and steep crack systems on the right side of the vertical gully feature which brought them to within half a ropelength of the end of the true difficulties.
One short steep bit of ice climbing put the pair on the summit ice slopes, sometimes rocks covered with deep snow, which they climbed in ten 60 meter pitches to the North Twin - Twin Towers col. From here they were able to ascend towards the summit of North Twin and reached a suitable bivouac at 7:00pm below the summit cornice. Being quite dry after a long day without water, they cooked until 1:00am, and then fell asleep for 7 hours.
At 10:00am the morning of the 8th they continued over the summit of North Twin onto the Colombia Icefield where they utilized a GPS unit to navigate their way to the Athatbasca Glacier in a complete whiteout – snow and fog. After nine nearly-continuous hours of walking they reached the Icefields parkway and the road. It took them well over an hour to thumb a ride 10 kilometers north to their waiting van. (It was later calculated that with perfect navigation it would be a 14 mile traverse.)
Steve never had any problems with his foot getting cold and they returned to the highway with 1.5 gas canisters and no food remaining. They carried off all of their gear and ropes. Their skis, poles, and skins remained in the Haberl Creek drainage, but were retrieved by a pair of young climbers a week later who were paid for their efforts.

Summary: Second ascent of the upper part of Lowe-Jones 1974 (5.10 A3) route on the North Face of North Twin with a variation to the first half by Steve House (USA) and Marko Prezelj (Slovenia) from April 5-7, 2004 – five days from the road back to the road.

Steve House and Marko Prezelj

Slike z odprave

Epsko in legendarno ozadje North Twina mi pred vzponom ni bilo znano. Po izjemni odmevnosti najinega vzpona sem našel članek Barrya Blancharda v reviji The American Alpine Journal, ki nazorno opiše epski značaj ture.

Kratek članek o odpravi je za časnik Delo napisal tudi Tomaž Jakofčič. Objavljen je bil na straneh Gore-ljudje.


Odprave Evropska gorstva Plezališča Povezave