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Hunter Lee

[TR] Vancouver Island- Elkhorn Mountain - Threading The Needle: WI-4, M-3, D+, 310 Meters 03/10/2018

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Trip: Vancouver Island- Elkhorn Mountain - Threading The Needle: WI-4, M-3, D+, 310 Meters

Trip Date: 03/10/2018

Trip Report:

With clears skies forecast Chris Jensen, Ryan Van Horne and I packed our bags and set our sites on Elkhorn Mountain. Initially our climb was to be on it's Northeast Face, but slightly warmer temperatures had the face shedding snow at an uncomfortable rate. Fortunately for us the North Face of the mountain, which we traversed on our way to scope the North-East Face, was solid and worthy of climbing. Here's the North-East Face looking as though it's in the Cordillera Blanca:

DSC08218.thumb.jpg.7ce31159b4551bf0cbbe3ec87e927533.jpg 

 

 We set up shop at the bottom of a deep chimney that had a promising start and appeared to continue upwards to the large snow pack above us. With a nice looking grade 4 pitch above us I racked up and set off. As per usual it was steeper than we thought, fortunately for our arms the lower section was close to a rock face and we were able to stem back and rest up for the upper half of the pitch.

DSC07330.thumb.jpg.76e4011f6abfff8701ac3383a8f108b9.jpg

 

Here's Ryan enjoying a rest before he ran our of rock to rest on:

 

DSC07339.thumb.jpg.a68a6e6f6b50cf9c375976a3a4a4b002.jpg

 

With this fun pitch below us our stoke was high. Ryan racked up and lead the second pitch which had constant grade 2/3 steps for 50 meters. Here's Ryan dealing with the first step of the second pitch: 

 

DSC08258.thumb.jpg.b24a3a5e5ee3ace9ac1563ccfba5bdcc.jpg

 

 Once anchored off above the second pitch we found ourselves at the base of the upper snow field. Chris took this pitch all the way to the start of the grade 4 pitch of an existing route: The Winter Needle. Here's Chris punching steps up the upper snow field en route to the upper mountain: 

 

DSC08274.thumb.jpg.51b2cee02f1457e3238726e32011a07c.jpg

 With this long pitch below we set our sites on the existing route: The Winter Needle. Unfortunately the warm temperatures now exercising their influence on conditions we once again opted to back off and re-route our path due to spin drift coming down. A long pitch that had 20 meters of simultaneously-climbing lead us to a solid anchor just below a short mixed section that hopefully would allow us access to the Northwest aspect of the mountain. Here's Ryan making his way up the mixed section atop pitch 4:

 

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  With our belay now in the sun, for the first time, we realized time was going to be an issue. Fortunately the top pitch of the Winter Needle has an easy chimney that leads to the summit. Here's Ryan and Chris enjoying the sun atop pitch 5:

 

DSC08310.thumb.jpg.1577616099a6f12711d246dab5873a22.jpg

 

 With day light at a premium Chris quickly set off and cruised up a snow slope to a comfy belay not too far from the summit. Here's a view looking down from the top of pitch 6: DSC07363.thumb.jpg.7a44f4bfa2b2026acec5515299dc261c.jpg

 

 With the sun setting over the west coast of the island Chris, Ryan and I found ourselves standing atop the island's second highest mountain under blue bird conditions- definitely a summit experience to remember as the sky lit up and and smiles were wide. After a few quick photos on the summit we descended the upper section of the Northwest Ridge in the dark- 5 rappels and some down climbing later we found ourselves back on the Northwest ridge and at our camp some 15 hours after we set off.

 

ThreadingTheNeedleRoute.thumb.jpg.3ad7381b921b434544c4067ce560fa90.jpg

 

Threading The Needle: 6 pitch, 310 Meter, D+, WI4, M3


P1- WI4, 50 Meter
P2- WI3, 50 Meter
P3- WI2, 120 Meter, mostly snow slope (simul climbed after 60 Meters)
P4- WI3, 80 Meter (20 Meter Simul Climb after WI3 step)
P5- WI3/M3, 50 Meter
P6- WI2, 60 Meter

 

 

Gear Notes:
Full rack of screws, handful of cams and nuts, 4 pins

Approach Notes:
Approach the the North-West Ridge trail, as described in Island Alpine Select by Phillip Stone.
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Positively excellent! Thanks for the report. Just got my Nexus card and BC is my new backyard.

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