Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beautiful Century (5.10a)

Beautiful Century follows the obvious buttress in the centre of the photo
Beautiful Century is a 7 pitch, 5.10a sport route on Nanny Goat. I had heard that it was an awesome climb last year, but at the time, it was out of my comfort zone and I put that idea on the back burner for a while. Last summer was spent mostly climbing some of the easier trad multi-pitch routes, but this year, we have been out sport cragging much more and I was feeling strong enough to consider this climb. It helped that I had Liam to lead the harder pitches as well! The biggest concern that we had about this route was it was put up relatively recently and isn't in any guidebooks yet. As such, there wasn't very much beta available for the approach and start of the route. The TAVBAR route description was very helpful for the actual climb, and we were able to stumble upon the start of the route with very little difficulty. To get to the start of the route, we followed the Coire Dubh approach (taking a right on the double track instead of following the road up to Kid Goat). Once you got closer to the Coire Dubh waterfall, the trail forked into the forest and took you right to the base of the route. There was a tree with a piece webbing around it which could be a good landmark. The route began right from the end of the trail and moved left up the slab towards the single tree, and the first anchor was a few metres to the right of the tree. Beyond that, the route was very straight-forward!
My interpretation of where the route went - the solitary tree is a good landmark. Note the wet rock on the far right, the Coire Dubh waterfall - this is where the trail goes from the Coire Dubh approach to the base of the route
I took the first pitch (5.8), which was very slabby initially, and then followed a really fun corner that you could stem all the way up. The route was well protected and the rock was very grippy. It took a bit to convince myself to trust my feet, but once I discovered that my shoes were sticking well, the slab was a lot more fun. Two parties showed up at the bottom between the time I started leading the first pitch and when Liam got to the anchor. I guess it was a beautiful warm day and the route gets early morning sun. It sure is popular.
Looking out from a belay station over to Yamnuska
Liam took the 5.10a pitch and made it look easy. All that training this spring looks like it has paid off! Route finding went fairly well, except when Liam got off route by climbing past the anchor and following some bolts that went out left on the 5th pitch. We ended up linking pitch 3 and 4 as the fourth pitch was very short and easy scrambling, and rockfall wasn't a major issue. We probably could have also linked pitch 6 and 7, which were both 25 m. There is an anchor at the top of pitch 7 that we used, but then Liam had to belay me the last few meters to top out at the trees. There is an anchor up in the trees that we discovered after, so on pitch 7 skip the obvious anchor and continue up to the top out instead to save time!
Me following Liam up pitch 2
Pitch 2 slab!
I think that the most enjoyable climbing was the corner at the top of the first pitch, the 10a pitch (#2) and the flake feature on pitch 7. There was lots of slab, but it was broken up with small steps and features so it made it really fun. It also gave us some awesome view of the Bow Valley.
Liam coming up pitch 6 (5.8)
Pitch 6 again
We topped out just before noon (we had left the car at 7:45 and got on the route around 8:30am) and had our lunch in the sunshine on the top of Nanny Goat. The descent was very intuitive. You traverse away from Coire Dubh (climbers left) and down a bit of a scree area, then follow a steep trail down into the creek bed between Nanny and Kid Goat. There was one steep section in the creek area that had an anchor for rappelling, but it was fine to walk down as the rock was dry. Another successful day.
Top of Nanny Goat
Bow Valley views from Nanny Goat

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