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dberdinka

TR: Yellow Brick Road - Marble Canyon

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In early August unstable weather, general lethargy and the Squamish vortex turned a planned trip to Waddington into two weeks of cragging.

 

Driven from Squamish and Joffre by rain then snow we found ourselves camped out in Marble Canyon. I'm of the impression that while many people have ice climbed here relatively few have rock climbed.

 

A night followed by a morning of rain kept us in our tent until about noon on the first day. The sun eventually broke out and we went cragging on the lower walls. Theres a number of good pitches here in the 5.8 to 5.10 range, generally low angle face climbing.

 

The obvious attraction in the area is the main wall. 1700' of slabby to overhanging limestone perched high above the canyon. The wall is breached by one route called the Yellow Brick Road, climbed between 1973 and 1994 (or something like that). It looked very intimidating, however careful reading of the guidebook indicates that there was a judicous use of bolts on the first ascent.

 

Leaving the road at 6:30 AM we spent an hour and a half scrambling to the base through a lot of ball-bearing scree. A bit of sporadic rockfall adding to the character of the wall.

 

First two pitches were excellent, well-protected face and crack climbing followed by four easier pitches the led to the base of the steep center portion of the cliff.

 

Three steep pitches of very well protected but occasionally loose rock led up through the headwall. The postion was incredible and the climbing generally excellent. The bolt ladder is pretty damn long (20 bolts ??). I was glad to have aiders and my partner was glad to have jumars. Bring lots of slings and biners. The 5.10 free pitches have lots of bolt protection and the cruxs could easily be aided.

 

From here 4 more pitches of fun climbing followed by a long stretch of 4th/low 5th led to the top of the wall. Total climbing time was 7 hours plus another 1.5 hours for the descent.

 

All belays were 2 fat bolts, route finding was obvious, climbing was fun and everything was well protected. There is certainly enough loose rock that I wouldn't climb behind another party on this route, but it didn't seem to detract from the climb at all.

 

Descent down the North Gully was fast, obvious and beautiful. Good on the knees too! as most of it is through squishy forest.

 

All in all an awesome route that is far better, safer and straight forward than you would think. Highly recommended for a fall adventure.

 

One last note. Though Marble Canyon supposedly scorches in the summer we wore long underwear, wind breakers and wool hats the entire day and were still cold. Strange, strange weather in early August this year.

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Marble Canyon is full on fun. The guidebook is now out of date (sorry Lyle) and contains many sandbags (routes Lyle had not climbed at press time). Pavilion Edge is a contender for Worlds Toughest 5.8 or so Ive heard. Pretty cool that it was free climbed by Hank Mather in 1960.

 

HANK MATHER IS GOD!!!! There I've said it. [big Grin]

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I went up to Marble Canyon back a few weeks ago. We were going to climb, but the battery in my truck exploded. We ended up walking to a pay phone and waiting for the tow truck driver instead of climbing.

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