ESE Ridge of Lady MacDonald

May 07, 2006 | (I, 5.4) |
participants: mike warren / florian jungen /

[More technical details on my Wiki. See also my Bivouac route report.]

Armed with a handwritten description copied from Evertt Fee's Web site, I picked up Florian and we grabbed a coffee on the way out of town, hitting the parking lot of Cougar Canyon about 9:30.

We cruised up the creek and took a few minutes finding the start of the "faint trail" mentioned; it is immediately upstream of the crag before "Canadian Forks" (Cosmology). There was a small cairn and some flagging tape when we were there. From here, some pleasant forest walking and a small amount of unpleasant scree gains you about 500m to some slabs, which you climb and get to the base of the first rock band.

Proceeding down and left as per the description, there was a piece of old tarp under a rock marking the start of the climbing; a piton is found almost immediately (about 2m). We climbed up to a tree (with a piton slightly above it behind a flake) and roped up. There is some really neat rock here: black slower-weathering horizontal bands which make very nice holds. Passing another piton, one reaches some tat on a tree in just over 30m, marking the end of the first band.

More tree-walking and a little scrambling leads to the second, shorter band and a few moves up this gain you the ridge proper. This is the best part of the climb: lots of kinfe-edge scrambling and narrow ridge-walking past a bunch of stupid, unnecessary bolts beside great placements (our best theory on these is some guide placed them to eliminate the need to carry gear when bringing roped-up clients along the ridge).

After a bunch of ridge scrambling and a couple very short steps, you reach the final step which is about the same as the second one. Just before this, a bunch of fossil shells are weathered out of the rock, making for another neat section. After the last step, you join the normal scramble route for a bit more exposed ridge work to the summit.

Florian, anticipating our noon-ish summit time, was good enough to bring a half-litre of wine. Unfortunately, his Swiss army knife features a screwdriver in place of the corkscrew. Many attempts at pushing the cork into the wine failed, and so we didn't enjoy it until we found a party near the wreckage of the tea-house with the appropriate device. Some Gruyere rounded out our snack.

Very similar to the ridge on Lorette, this is a great early-season easy alpine climb. Highly recommended. I enjoyed the ridge climbing more than Lorette, but be prepared for the stupid bolts and hordes of people scampering up the scramble trail; Lorette is far less overrun.

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