Cirque of the Unclimbables
"Cirque of the unclimbables" in Canada
Ines Papert (D) und Lisi Steurer (A) manage first ascent on Middle Huey Spire 400m "Power of Silence" 5.13a
This stunningly beautiful and very remote rocky landscape in the Northwest Territories is known for its gigantic granite walls up to 800m in height. The so called Feary Meadows make a perfect place of departure for alpine undertakings at the "Cirque of the unclimbables." To reach the camp we took a 90 minute hydroplane from Blackstone to the Glacier Lake, from where it was another day's march to approach the climb.
New route - Lisi's baptism of fire
In the middle of the Canadian wilderness we manage a fantastic but continuously demanding first ascent on the Middle Huey Spire's south face, 400 m. We follow the logical route along cracks and through a very apparent system of dihedrals in the left sector of the wall, which leads us over enormous roofs. We are almost only using traditional gear like pitons, Camalots and other camming devices. For the belay stations and four other necessary intermediate belays we are using bolts. Thanks to a british team, who left behind 90 meters of static rope, we are able to climb the upper part in one go. But every meter up to the summit has to be earned, climbing the route feels arduous and very exposed. Luckily the days are long. After three days of hard work on August 2nd, 2009 we reach the summit of Middle Huey Spire for the first time. It's Lisi's first alpine ascent, and this doubles our happiness. The terrain seems to be ideal for base jumping, which of course would be the fastest way down. But we're having enough adrenaline in our veins and are just as happy to abseil along our route down to the bottom of the wall.
Free ascent: 5.13- "Power of Silence"
Two questions keep being interesting - will we manage a free ascent of our route? The first ascent already demanded all sorts of technical climbing tricks, plus the wall is very steep. Also, will we be lucky with the weather? During our rest day we are plagued by these thoughts. But the weather god is on our side and even after one rainy day the wall is still dry. We're spending another day on our route, practicing and cleaning, and two days later Ines manages her free ascent. On August 7th, in the afternoon, we reach the summit a second time, very happy about the free ascent up this exposed route. "Power of Silence" seems to be a perfect name. The silence and solitude of the wilderness are giving us energy and help us to work as a team in harmony. As a grade we suggest 5.13- (7c+). 11 pitches, mostly 5.11 and 5.12. This is only the second route up the mostly overhanging south face of the Middle Huey Spires, which leads you to one of the most secluded summits in the area.
Lotus Flower Tower
During a very stable fair weather phase, which is unusual for this region, we were able to realize two more dreams—the onsight ascent of the most famous summit in the area, the Lotus Flower Tower 800m "South East Buttress" 5.10c in 9.5 hours and the first free ascent (Ines) of "Riders on the Storm" 5.12 d (7c, 11 pitches) on East Huey Spire.
Thanks to our friends in Canada, Chris Atkinson and Marc Piche, who inspired us to do this trip. They are working on a Guidebook and a Coffee Table Book, and so we got the chance to visit this wonderful spot.
Many thanks also to our sponsors, who never get tired of supporting our undertakings:
Arc'teryx, GORE-TEX, Black Diamond, Lowa, Julbo, Wild Roses, Suunto
You can also read an article about the trip on Climbing.com