Vancouver Island – Mount Arrowsmith
Feb 11 – The Newman Forraker (sp?) on Mt Arrowsmith is in. On Saturday Feb 11th, I ran into a young climber named Max from Parksville. He had just climbed the Newman Forraker route. Which was great news to me because at Christmas, I tried to climb through verglass covered rock near the balcony, only to retreat from a surge of free flowing water.
The lower portion was filled in well at WI3 and should take screws no problem.
The middle portion is narrow, but it was easy to find good sticks. Placing protection here might be hit and miss.
The crux, a narrow crack and overhanging from the left, had enough ice in it to climb. The flake forced me to the right on to bare rock, but by hooking a rock flake with my crampon and throwin’ a couple of hip scums, I got through it with little difficulty.
The upper portion of the climb is solid alpine ice with a light skim of snow.
The deepest snow encountered on the ascent was at the base of Brugger’s, and was about 20 to 30cm deep.
Descent was via the Main gully
Park at the 4th switchback and hike “The Climber’s” trail to the West Ridge basin. From there, climb to the upper basin and ascend Brugger’s Gully on the right. The Newman Forraker is on the left three quarters of the way up Brugger’s, You can’t miss it.
Total trip time, Truck to Truck, was about 3hrs 15 minutes. And it took me 45 minutes to free climb the route, which is about 3 pitches long. Total trip elevation is about 850 to 900meters.
Feb 14 – Wow… I had an awsome day on Mount Arrowsmith yesterday (Feb 14). I climbed the Newman-Forraker and dropped down the East side, to climb a route directly below the summit. I’m not sure of the route’s name, but it’s by far the best winter route on Arrowsmith. It was stellar “stick and go” climbing for about two and a half pitches, followed by a half pitch of climbing on firm neve. The heavily rime encrusted flank of Arrowsmith, provided a spectacular back drop and a superb alpine feel to the route. The route is sustained climbing at about WI3+, with no benches or shelves.
The beginning of the route is wide and continually climbs upwards with a small snow depression about half a pitch up. Setting screws here should be a snap, as it appeared to be very fat. I thought about climbing a narrowing crack to the left, but decided to challange the line. This was the right call because that was where the ice was.
The mid section of climb had a few short vertical sections ranging from 2 to 4 meters in height. In this section, you had to follow the ice. But I had no problems finding bomb-proof sticks. I only hit rock a couple of times, and the odd stick popped. But I just pulled the ax out, chipped the loose ice away, and found solid sticks. Finding screw placements in this section is probably hit and miss. And I suspect that the ice has more snow mix in it.
The climb finishes through a small snow gully, approximately 25 meters North of the two summit antennas. The ice leading into the gully was solid alpine style ice. To avoid the deepening, soft snow, I climbed the left margin of the gully on firm neve’ and rime to finish at the summit’s antenna.
To protect this part of the climb, a couple of snow pickets and or flukes would probably work well.
The small gully is capable of some wind loading at the very top, but it can be easily checked out before descending the East side.
The initial route down to the base of the climb is via a large couloir South of the main summit. From the antenas, down climb easy ground on the South side of the summit. Continue over the hump to the South, staying low to avoid the cornice overhang. Descend easy ground a short distance, the entrance to the gulley is on the left and can’t be missed. The top of the couloir is steep, but eases after a short distance. Continue down the gulley for about 200 meters and traverse to the left around a rock shoulder to start the climb.
Park at the 4th switch back of the Pass main.
Hike the climber’s trail to the west ridge basin.
Ascend to the upper basin and climb Brugger’s Gully on the right, to the base of the Newman-Forraker (3 pitches of WI3)
From the top of the N/F route, descend easy ground a short distance, then climb up to the main summit of Arrowsmith.
Total trip time was 6hrs, truck to truck.
It took me 50 minutes to free climb the N/F route and 40 minutes to climb the East route.
Total elevation was approximately 1100meters.