Mount Habrich - Life On EarthDate:
After a stellar period of great weather here in Vancouver, BC it was time try the route Life and Earth on Mount Habrich. My buddy Rob and I had been thwarted the previous year while trying to determine the exact start of the route, we ended up getting off track and onto a different line without the proper gear and bailed. My hope is this TR could provide helpful info to later parties so that they donít experience a similar debacle like we did.
Topo of the line from Mountain Project
Sunday morning with Jean Marc we drove up to the new gate and we rode/walked our downhill bikes up to the main turnoff to Habrich. People can also opt to pay and take the gondola itself, however it doesnít publicly operate officially until 10am, but Iíve heard climbers can get on with the crews at 8:30am...? I think it took roughly and hr to the turnoff. From here we stashed our bikes in the woods and zipped up the remaining approach to the base of the climb (around 40min). At the base we reviewed the 2001 McLane guide for where to begin the climb. The 11c start was easily visible with the bolt beside the trail on a swampy ledge beside the drop off into the gully, and as it correctly reads the main start is about 20m up and around the base of the cliff. There is a pull rope here but to start the route you need to stop about midway to where the rope is anchored at the upper tree. It should be noted that both the 11c alt start and the standard start both have small pieces of flagging. I think in hindsight on my previous attempt we used a less detailed topo since this time around I felt much more confident where the route started.
I quickly roped up for the 1st pitch and headed up a direct line upward keeping the large main dihedral to my right side. This route is mixed so there are bolts on blank sections with ample opportunity for protection in the cracks and grooves along the way. After about 20m I was standing on a pedestal and I could see a bolt 15ft up and to my right that would provide access to the dihedral, where the topo outlines the route follows for a short period.
Photo of me on the lower portion of the 1st pitch.
In the McLane guide the topo shows an anchor station near where I was at this point but this didnít make sense and neither did I notice a suitable belay anchor before the dihedral. As a side note the topo in the book also has different grades then the printed description portion so there was a little bit of discrepancy on pitch grades. In order to reach the bolt there was a move or two with sloping pockets above a decent #1 C4. After the bolt I reached out and moved out onto the dihedral and laybacked my way upwards and placed the #4. I went up a bit further adding another piece (#3?) and then noticed the bolt out left leading out of the dihedral. Once at this bolt I noticed the next one about 15ft directly above me (took me a few minutes to locate this) and upon reaching that bolt I was able to finally see the anchors that were tucked in the main corner above me, in a small alcove. It should be noted that the topo reads 3 bolts here but I only found two, but there is a good spot for a #2 C4 after the last bolt but before the belay. From what I recall all of the anchors on this route are generally hard to see until you are very close to them. The two cruxes on the first pitch seemed to be at the locations that are bolted. I also felt that this first pitch was probably the most difficult of the route but the other sections definitely offered some spice at their respective grades.
Jean Marc coming up the first pitch.
Jean Marc took the next lead that went directly above the belay and into the main corner.
Looking up the first section of the 2nd pitch, a fixed piton is located near the circle.
After stacking a #.75 / #1 BD cam above the belay and then later a small blue TCU, he clipped a fixed piton and climbed over the bulge and continued up the easy groove for a short ways. We took the early variation shortly after the bulge that lead out left onto the obvious bolts, where the cruxiest moves were, and from there the line continued up and onto the arÍte. The rest of this pitch was mixed bolts and gear up to the next station.
Photo of me coming up the 2nd pitch. All smiles today.
On the 3rd pitch I weaved a bit right and back left onto the arÍte and followed another mixed line of bolts and gear. There seemed to be two main cruxes on this pitch where the route travels over some smooth and steep bulges. This pitch was almost entirely on the arÍte with the last section weaving slightly right of the arÍte just below the next station.
Me heading up the 3rd pitch.
Jean Marc coming up the arete with Sky Pilot in the background.
On the 4rth pitch the topo reads that there is keyhole slot for a nut that should not be missed, since itís the only pro for a fair distance. About 15-20ft up from the belay I doubled the nut with a yellow TCU and from here it is a approx 20-25ft runout along the arÍte to the next bolt. A little unnerving since a fall will most likely end up on ledges on the right side but the climbing is no harder then 5.8 up to that bolt. Once at the bolt I followed a groove leftward from the arÍte which felt like the crux, over a bulge and into the crack that widened. After about 20ft, and a slung shrub, I stepped rightward and around the arÍte and followed 4 bolts with small crimps up to the next station.
Looking up the 4rth pitch.
Jean Marc came up and quickly racked up for the last pitch which was mostly bolted. He up and left following the first few bolts. The crux was at the 2nd bolt above a flake/bulge with several moves of thin smearing and crimping. From here he went straight up a crack that protects well and then he followed the remaining line of bolts rightward then again straight up, finishing on the left side of a large obvious triangular shaped boulder that sits at the top of the route, that can be seen from the belay.
Jean Marc on the 5th (last) pitch.
Once we got to the top of the route we left the ropes and scrambled to the summit to enjoy the views. Thereafter we rapped back down to our packs at the bottom of the climb.
Great views up here.
Few notes on the approach, it takes around 1.5hrs but I definitely recommend bringing pedal bikes with suspension if available. The downhill ride on the main logging road was very enjoyable. For gear we were a bit uncertain of what to bring and ended up bringing doubles in cams up to #3 C4 and x1-#4. In hindsight a full set of double cams are not needed and #4 was used only once on the first pitch at the dihedral. If I were to go back I would bring a single set of cams from blue TCU up to #4-C4 and I would double up on only #.5, #.75 and #1 C4. Single set of stoppers also suffices. Dozen or so draws is also adequate, including some extendables, since the pitches are almost all 50m. In the end the gear you bring is up to your preference, Jean Marc and I both air on the side of being more conservative in this regard.
Two ropes are needed to rap the route like we did, alternatively you can rap the North line with a single but then you have to walk back to the base from the upper col if you stashed anything there. I think rapping the route is the best option. The walls are relatively smooth with little to snag your ropes on.
All the pitches are in the 5.10 range. Even though the cruxes are challenging they are relatively short lived. Overall this route is a fantastic alpine climb near Squamish with access now made much more convenient due to the Sea to Sky gondola development.
Hard to beat a fresh brew from the Sea to Sky gondola after a fun climb.