Issue 14

Tales of Vertical Trails

Know When To Fold ‘Em

Some days in the mountains are just really fun. There are other days that you only remember as fun, after the fact. When I climb with Phil, it's almost always a combination of the two.

Issue 14

Know When To Fold ‘Em

I had this somewhat unrealistic vision of a line up the most dominant fold on the east face of Mount Elliott, and I had only one day off work in July to complete it. Why not give it a shot? The stars aligned and Phil was available, so we packed our bags and prepared ourselves for what I thought would be around 600 m of technical climbing.
The plan was solid, but I definitely underestimated the shear size of the face we were off to tackle. At 0400 we jogged into the base of Voltzwagon, which we had decided would be an expedient access route. At 0445 we had the approach climbing behind us and we were into new terrain. We moved very quickly because we knew we had a lot of climbing in front of us. It is always invigorating to strike off into the unknown with some fashion of abandon and a bit of a plan. Traversing to the base of the central fold was not without its difficulties, but we managed to move without fixing belays along a ramp system, and made good time.

By 0630 we had scrambled to a position where pitching was necessary, and we switched into technical climbing. Phil belayed me off a large tree and we were off to a good start. Although the fold we had planned to climb was poor quality, the face to its right was very workable and led to a smaller fold with reasonable rock. The pitches went fast, but they just kept coming at us, and it seemed as though we were getting nowhere. After around 6 pitches we reached a large roll which allowed for a bit of context. I looked at Phil and he looked at me. “This is a monster,” I commented. I was set on trying to stick to the fold, so we climbed a sixty metre pitch towards it, only to be shut down by its poor quality.

I climbed back down to the belay and struck off towards the central face. This line offered fast climbing in a moderate range with cleaner rock, and good protection. At this point we did what I love most – we climbed fast and I stretched the rope. Pitch after pitch of climbing fell below us as we were starting to get somewhere. We were making fast gains but the mountain seemed to be growing under our feet.

Finally after thirteen rope stretching pitches I looked at Phil and put the drill in my backpack. “From here up it looks a bit less steep, how do you feel about using alternate rope techniques to finish the last third of this thing?” We moved quickly but noted that good belays could be established for pitching where needed from here to the summit. This was a great day with an amazing friend.

I hope to hear many stories of wild adventurers getting lost trying to follow this route and making their own way to the summit!

Know when to fold em
Know when to fold em
Know when to fold em

More Tales of Vertical Trails:

Happy People Crag

Happy People Crag

In the Nordegg area we almost always have to compromise on one of these qualities, so it's pretty special when a crag boasts all of them. Happy People Crag does just that. We ran into this crag a few years back and noted it. In 2024, Liz Taylor and I had a bit of...

read more
Rockies Ringlock & Filthy With Minerals

Rockies Ringlock & Filthy With Minerals

Route development days almost always fall in between another day or two in the mountains for me.They are a natural outflowing of my passion to share these mountains with other travellers and unlock their secret pathways. On route development days things can have a...

read more
No Lights On Fridays

No Lights On Fridays

This was the beginning of No Lights On Fridays, which turned out to be a very fun adventure. The first two pitches are long and moderate with a few bolts for protection along the way. We added bolted stations as we went and fixed this fun mixed modern route. Of note,...

read more

We’d love to answer questions or plan your custom guided mountain adventure! 

Services