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[TR] West Lion - Winter - North Couloir to NW Ridge 02/09/2020

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Trip: West Lion - Winter - North Couloir to NW Ridge

Trip Date: 02/09/2020

Trip Report:


This trip report is 2 months late but wanted to post this for folks in the future looking for info on this route/or the West Lion in general.


On Feb 9 Richard, David and I Climbed the the West Lion via the N couloir and then the NW ridge. We were around 14hrs car to car which seems pretty average for winter routes up on the lions. Some faster groups do achieve 8-12hr range c to c. Nevertheless winter routes up here are always a longer day. 

For general info I'm aware of the following winter routes on the West Lion, there could be more...

SE Gully - WI4- - 140m

NE Buttress - AI3/M4 - 400m

NE Buttress with East Face Approach - Difficulty Unknown

North Face - Hard (Line below is approx)

North Couloir to West Ridge - AI4- - 400m

North Couloir to West Ridge Direct (no rappel) - M4/M5 addition?


Photo topo of the North side routes and approach on West Lion


Photo posted by Don Serl on Westcoastice Facebook group, outlining the East side routes on the West lion including a variation entrance onto the NE buttress in orange. I climbed the SE gully via the Red line, although I notice the original line in yellow goes out left.



North Couloir to NW Ridge. Upper part of the route as viewed from the approach basin. Descent gully noted on the right.



Looking up the North side of the West Lion while approach the North Couloir.



Richard soloing up the lower portion of the North Couloir.



Photo of me leaving the comfortable cave on Pitch 2 in the Couloir



Dave coming up pitch 2 in the Couloir.



Richard on pitch 3 in the Couloir.



Photo of me on the 4rth pitch just after rapping from the notch



Richard leading the last section of ice on pitch 6.



Dave and Richard walking up the last portion to the summit with epic views that evening toward Howe sound/Strait of Georgia.



Descending the gully back to the approach basin in fading light.

On Feb 9 no flotation was needed on the approach, although the north side had much deeper penetration (crotch deep coming into gully). After being up to the lions area well over a dozen times in the winter I have concluded it is more likely then not, that flotation will be needed/helpful on the approach to the basin.  FYI I have found that the approach trail up is too steep to skin up efficiently, and offers a very short (not worthwhile) ski descent.

Conditions are very fickle for north shore alpine ice. When routes come in shape they seem to last only a couple weeks per season.

I feel this line is similar in overall difficulty/ exertion as the winter NW buttress but this has more full length ice pitches then the NW buttress.

I don't recall reading the route grade for the N Coulior/West Ridge but these are my thoughts on the difficulty (certainly conditions dependent):

Pitch 1 - AI2+ - 70m

P2 - AI3 out of cave - 60m

P3 - AI3 step with vertical snow just below the notch - 30m (40m Rappel from notch on shrub to next continuous ice flow)

P4 - AI4-/3+ - 50m

P5 - Steep snow to base of last ice pitch - 70m

P6 - AI3 - 60m

Walk to summit

14hr car to car



Henrik Hinkkala


Gear Notes:
x2-60m half ropes, 10 extendable slings/runners (used all), 4 nuts (didn't use), 9 screws most 13-17cm (Used 7, many got rocked), 3 pitons + spectre (used all), 5 cams (blue/ yellow/ orange metolious, red ultralight, red link cam- used all but blue/ yellow), 1 picket (used twice)

Approach Notes:
Follow Lions Trail up to Lions Basin

Edited by HHinkkala
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