Sunday, August 03, 2008

Bedson Ridge, Jasper, Alberta

In life, you never know who’s going to be your next partner. Jolene and I were buying our first rope and draws at the local climbing store a few years ago when we met Terry & Karine. We’ve been friends ever since, and yesterday Terry and I found some time to bang out a quick 6 pitch climb near my home in Brule, Alberta.

I’ve had a tough time finding partners who wanted to climb in the traditional style this summer. When Terry phoned around noon on a day swirling in a low pressure system, I was excited, albeit tentative. It was late, the weather sucked, and even at my house, we were still 2 hours from the climb. A voice inside whispered epic. But, I had a feeling Terry and I could get up and down it safely, and opportunities such as these are too few and far between at the moment.

It was early afternoon when Terry brought over some things for supper. We assured Jo that starting dinner at nine would be great. We then jumped in my old truck for the bumpy jeep trail that snakes its way from the hamlet of Brule to the Ogre Canyon area.

We arrived at the parking lot around 3 pm and began the approach to Bedson Ridge.
You basically follow the railroad tracks (while avoiding the 300 meter tunnel) until you are in front of the beautiful faces of limestone that are the cliffs; B-Minor & B Major. We began to gear up for the climb, Doctors Dive, 5.8, (F.A G Israelson & A. McDonald 1987) sometime around 5:00pm. The skies swirled grey and dark around us. However, in our little rain shadow things were cool, dry & pleasant.

The climb follows the diagnol weakness in the middle of the face.

I made it to the first belay on one of our half ropes, and then brought Terry up. Consulting the topo, it looked like Terry would draw the crux of the climb, a few committing moves of 5.8 pitch that wound its way over a small roof.

Terry just below the crux on pitch 2.

The climber would have the option of using either the funky off width or a smattering of small edges. We were surprised to see a bolt protecting the moves. It was a bit of a relief, as we weren’t looking for a ride this evening. Terry and I climb for fun, pure and simple. Terry cruised through the moves and on to easier ground and the belay. I threw the pack on and followed the pitch up to Terry. The next pitch was mine. I ended up combining almost of all pitches 3 & 4. The climbing was great! It was mostly gear protection with the occasional piton. The limestone at B-Major is quite textured and offers plenty of small positive edges. I found myself in my zone and really enjoyed the full 60 meters.

Roche Miette as viewed from the 3rd belay.

Terry then came up to me and started the next pitch. (Then end of pitch 4). He was off route for a moment, but then came back around. This induced quite a bit of rope drag, and we realized that I had nearly finished pitch 4 in my effort. To reduce drag, I climbed the quick 15 meters to Terry and set off again on lead. For me, the next pitch was the highlight of the climbing. There was sufficient protection around although the more moderate sections were a bit runout. I ended up taking us up another 55 meters (combining almost all of pitch’s 5 & 6), and it was beginning to look a bit dark. Terry came up quickly and complemented me on my lead. According to the topo, the next bulge would be the end of the technical climbing. It was then easy ground to top-out on the ridge proper. I’d let our nearly 59.5 meters of rope before I felt that Terry had me on belay. I finished quickly as the last light was fading. Thankfully I was able to call my wife and let her know we’d be a little late.

The pain in my feet told me that it was a mistake not to bring our shoes up. The darkness made me sorry that Terry had forgotten his head lamp. It was a long 3 hours through the trees and along the steep wavy slab. The first person would walk out about 5 feet and then turn around to light the way for the second.

With a lot of luck, we eventually found our pack. The approach tennies were a welcome relief from the rock shoes we’d been in for the last 8 hours. We were soon down to the railroad tracks. We were tired, and it was late on a new moons stormy night. We remained positive however, passing eerie signal lighting on the active line. We made it over the train tunnel and back to the truck sometime around 4 am. A bit of adventure makes beer and tunes that much better. 45 minutes later we were home & gorging down elk spaghetti and getting read to rest as dawns first light graced the land.

Yep, we epiced. But, we knew it was going to go be a late night with such a late start. The weather worked with us, and the climbing was moderate, so we knew what we were getting into before we even left the house. Terry and I had a great time, and it put a smile on our faces. Sometimes an epic adventure reminds me how good it is to be alive and well on this earth. It’s also nice to know that there is amazing multi pitch climbing just down the road from where I sleep at night!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great looking climb. That is a nice weakness in the rock there. I wish I had something like that near my residence. It's pretty flat around here.

8/04/2008 7:38 AM


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