Friday, August 29, 2014

Joy, Mt Indefatigable

Joy has been on my radar since last summer, but there was something else to climb, or it was too far away, or the weather was bad. Finally I got it in my head that it had to be done and I was going to make it happen. As the weekend approached, Kyle made some other suggestions about things to do, but my mind was made up. We were doing Joy! We didn't leave town crazy early (7am) but it was cold! As we drove through Kananaskis, the temperature was 6 degrees, not what you would expect in early August! Due to the late start, were concerned that there were going to be others on the route as many trip reports caution about the serious rockfall hazard. When we reached the parking area at Interlakes, it was packed! Where did all these people come from and how many were going to be climb?! As we were getting ready to leave the car, another group of climbers drove in, but after asking about where we were climbing they left, and avoided a race to the start of the route. 
Looking up the slab to the route. Joy follows the obvious corner and utilizes the slab on the right side
The approach was really easy until we reached the scree. Route finding wasn't an issue thanks to all the cairns marking the way, but the scree was tiring to walk in. Once we reached the slab however, we scrambled up to a place where it began to feel too steep to be un-roped and got our gear ready to go. I think we must have scrambled the first pitch or two because we were already a decent way up the climb when we started actually climbing.
Amazing views of Upper Kananaskis Lake all the way up!
We were surprised to find that nobody else was on the route above us! Also, despite the warnings of rock fall, we didn't notice any significant hazard, although we were being pretty careful. The wind picked up as the day went on, but it didn't seem to increase the rockfall.
Kyle working his way up the corner on an unknown pitch
The entire climb follows a big corner, which is rated as 5.8 in some books. This is where all the gear placements are, and the corner devours small cams!! Moving out onto the slab was easier climbing (5.5/5.6) but was often quite run-out, forcing a retreat to the corner in order to place protection or build an anchor. There weren't very many good places to belay as everything was on a slope. My calves were burning by the end of the climb! We tried to pitch out the route with as close to 60 metre pitches as we could manage with places to build anchors and rope drag. Overall, we did the whole route in 7 pitches (not including the scrambling at the beginning).
Looking up the corner system and slab from and anchor station
 The climbing was easy and fun. It reminded me of Diedre on the Chief Apron in Squamish, just not as steep and way longer. The whole way up we had amazing views of the lake and Mt. Joffre came into view as we gained elevation. Looking over at Joffre was cool because we had only been there a few months ago, but everything was covered in snow and the lake was frozen then. It looked way different.
Kyle moving up onto the ridge at the top of Joy
 The top of the route wasn't really the top of anything. We came up onto a ridge and were able to look down the other side at lower Kananaskis Lake and the parking area. We packed up our gear but had to continue up and around the top of the slab (to the right) to meet up with a much larger ridge that we were able to descend to get down to the hiking trail. It was fun scrambling up to the ridge and the landscape changed quickly from loose chunks of rock and scree to more of an alpine meadow as we came over onto the ridge. 
Top of Joy 
Upper Kananaskis Lake, Hidden Lake, Fossil Falls and Mt. Joffre in the background
Walking around to the ridge top
 The scramble down wasn't too bad. There were a few ways that you could go that looks pretty challenging, but continuing along the ridge, we came to a gentle scree slope that was a quick and easy descent (3rd couloir down from the top of Joy). We rocketed down the scree and ended up in a field of raspberries. I stopped to pick a few before Kyle reminded me that Mt. Indefatigable is a grizzly bear habitat and that got me moving pretty quickly. I was carrying bear spray and we had been trying to make lots of noise on both the approach and descent, but it was nice to get back to the main hiking trail (after a bit of bushwhacking and lots of falling over on my part).
Running down the scree
So, I was able to tick Joy off the list. It's an awesome climb that took us just under 7 hours from the parking lot and back to the car. Too bad (or maybe it's a good thing?) that my list seems to grow much faster than I am able to tick things off. There are plenty more climbs still to do, and I can't wait to get back out into the mountains!