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Mt. King George - East Face (1 of 13)Author:
Monday, September 15, 2008 10:33 AM
On Saturday September 13, I, Blair Piggot and Jason Wilcox climbed Mt. King George by the exciting and interesting East Face. We climbed the Congdon/McNab couloir. This couloir splits the East Face, south of the big hanging glacier. The first ascent of this route was in 1980 by Dwayne Congdon and Dave McNab and is mentioned in Bill Corbett�s 11,000�er book.
We hiked in on Friday Sept. 12 to our beautiful bivy location at approximately 150 035 in about 5 hours. There is a great trail, but it can be hard to stay on with all the dead fall.
Friday night we had a lot of rain/snow, but the forecast held true and the sky cleared and we had a beautiful cold and clear starry morning. We left camp about 5 am and quickly gained the main King George Glacier and made good time to the base of the route (approximately 132 061 ; 2850m). Crossing the schrund required a traverse to the right (north) of the main couloir, but only presented fun snow and ice climbing.
Once in the couloir proper we simul-climbed the mostly 50 degree ice slope for several hundred metres with protection from occasional pitons and ice screws. The slope was ice with patches of thin snow that give some relief from calf burn. The crux, lead nicely by Blair, was a full 60 metre pitch, which we belayed, of ice ranging from 60 to 70 degrees. The short pillar of �almost ice� was made of water ice and may not exist earlier in the season.
Above Blair�s belay easy mixed climbing lead to the South-East Ridge at about 3250 metres. We had about 400 metres of fun and exciting climbing and spent about 5 hours in the couloir. From 3250 metres we made quick time up easy snow slopes where a beautiful narrow ridge lead us to the summit. Fabulous summit views, but we didn�t stay long.
We descended the South Face and South Glacier with soft and a little dicey snow conditions. We exited into the upper North West Fynn Creek drainage and contoured around the south side of Mt. Princess Mary to return to the bivy site. We were under 15 hours from camp to camp, not a quick trip, but the climbing was fairly demanding through out.
Bright moon light dinner and to bed. Sunday we were about 4 hours out to the car, even though we lost the trail several times.
A fantastic climb with great company. The highlight of the summer 2008 for sure!
When Jason posts some photos, I will y�all know.
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (2 of 13)
Author: Kevin Barton
Date: Monday, September 15, 2008 10:48 AM
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (3 of 13)
Author: Scott Berry
Date: Monday, September 15, 2008 11:34 AM
Nice job guys,
looked like a blue bird day out there. I was curious about your simul-climbing technique. did you set a piece between each of you at all times? If not, did you feel comfortable in arresting a potential fall?
I personally have struggled with this technique over the years. Having simul-climbed Aberdeen's North face, I found it a little scary and ended up free soling the next time I climbed it( we roped up for the middle bench). This is one of those somewhat philosophical questions, because I do not believe there is really one right answer and that it really comes down to the parties skill level and appetite. I tend to shy away from climbing steeper snow and ice slopes (50 degrees to 65 degrees) using a simul-climbing technique with no pro and typically set at least one piece between each person or just free solo. However I seem to be more comfortable with setting belays now at slopes over 60 degrees and I expect that may continue to progress to lower degrees as my age increases.
More just gathering thoughts and opinions than anything.
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (4 of 13)
Author: Vern Dewit
Date: Monday, September 15, 2008 01:02 PM
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (5 of 13)
Author: Bill Kerr
Date: Monday, September 15, 2008 01:14 PM
Well done guys. Good pictures and classy commentary.
A good choice given conditions, etc. (like Harrison couloir last year)
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (6 of 13)
Author: Dow Williams
Date: Monday, September 15, 2008 04:35 PM
Great photos, looks like fantastic weather. Typical Jason laying down on the job. Everytime I get him trained to do all the work,...Blair spoils him again.
Time for me to run to the crag and belay someone from my car.
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (7 of 13)
Author: Jp S
Date: Monday, September 15, 2008 06:40 PM
I knew there would be a few people taking advantage of conditions. Good work.
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (8 of 13)
Author: Kevin Barton
Date: Monday, September 15, 2008 08:18 PM
Boys, thanks for the shout out. We had a great time. I
had some time off in August, but I now wish I had this
week off. I think conditions are shaping up quite nice
Scott, to answer your question. We usually had 2 or 3
pieces of protection on the rope. Typically one between
each climber. On the steepest section we had a full belay
station (2 ice screws) at the bottom and at the top of the
And about self arrest; on the steepest section, no chance
in hell on self arrest or arrest of a partner's fall. On the
lower angle section, a quick response might of worked. It
boils down to full belay safety or speed to get the hell out
of the couloir sooner. It might be technically more safe to
fully pitch the whole couloir, with two pieces anchors at
each exchange point, but that would take 3 times as long.
If one started the route at midnight and climbed all night,
it might be "more safe", but the longer exposure to rock
fall would be much more of a hazard.
I know shit happens, but I had full trust and faith in my
partners skill (I assume they feel the same ;-) and
assumed they would not fall. If some one did; it would
have been an epic to say the least. All part of the risk and
consideration in climbing this route :-)
I know Jason was cool to solo most of the couloir, I was
definitely not, thus the pro. I guess my age is catching
up to me as well ;-)
Dow, don't worry, if Wilcox keeps climbing with me, he'll
be doing all the hard work ;-)
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (9 of 13)
Author: Scott Berry
Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 07:53 AM
I appreciate your thoughts. I agree that climbing with partners that you know and trust is the biggest and best choice that you can make. The usual techniques of putting the best and strongest climber at the bottom of the rope apply of course. I have been looking at using Tibloc's at each piece of pro to reduce fall factors from a fall by the bottom climber on that piece as well as screamers at the harness and potentially on the pro.
Just some musings.
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (10 of 13)
Author: Dave Stephens
Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 06:32 PM
I'm glad to see that someone else is taking Old Man Blair out for a climb. When I moved away, I was worried about him. :-)
Seriously - good job on King George. Dan Ronsky just climbed it a couple of weeks ago as well, but it sounds like he took a different route.
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (11 of 13)
Author: Dow Williams
Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 11:26 AM
Yeah, but if you noticed, they made the poor old guy sleep outside the tent. Probably made him carry the rope and gear too.
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (12 of 13)
Author: Ferenc Jacso
Date: Friday, September 19, 2008 11:50 AM
This one takes the cake... Amazing trip, route and weather. I have to realize some people just can't exist without ice for too long :-)
Topic: Mt. King George - East Face (13 of 13)
Author: Mountain Ninja
Date: Monday, September 22, 2008 04:32 PM
Well done guys! Congratulations!
Mt. King George is one of the few mountains I`d climb again. I loved it even more than Assiniboine.