New Route in the Valhallas is one of the Hardest


For the past three years David Lussier of Summit Mountain Guides and I have projected a new route on the little south face of Gimli Peak in the Valhalla Mountains. It’s a line that’s noticeable from afar and we thought the corner crack on the upper headwall was going to be incredible. And it is. But it’s also seamed out and very, very hard. My favourite memory from all our attempts is Dave, while on lead, drilling one of the  bolts that’s required on the protection-less part of the 3rd pitch – he got tired and took his daisy chain and clipped himself to the drill bit that was still embedded in the rock…and rested! (Do not try that at home.)

A description of one of our attempts made it into Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine in my “KMC Rock Wars article” but the moves on the third pitch kept eluding us. Then, on October 7, Dave and Jason Luthy from Sandpoint, Idaho, successfully did the crux pitch clean. Here is a description of the route:

Valhalla Gold   5.12a
This climb is located on the shorter, south-facing wall that leads to the true Gimli summit. If you are looking at the prow of Gimli (the south ridge) it is the shorter wall back and to the right (east) where the descent route starts. Access: from the “beach” hike to the South Ridge route then traverse right (east) about 100m around the base. Scramble up a grassy (or snowy depending on the season) ramps towards the upper east-facing basin below Gimli peak. Ascend to the base of the East-facing couloir, seperating the upper south ridge and the main summit of Gimli. Take a double rack to #2s. All stations are bolted and it is possible to rappel the route with 2 ropes. P1: Start from a ledge 10m right of the gully separating the 2 summits of Gimli above a short green colored wall. Climb up following the prow of a broad grey buttress. (5.9 40m) P2: Climb up and left past a small pine tree and the left side of a 5m high detached pillar. Continue up and left to a beautiful hand crack in a shallow, right-facing corner and eventually a small overhang near the top. (5.10- 40m) P3: Climb the thin crack above passing a 2 fixed pitons. Continue up the steep wall following the thin crack past 5 bolts. Beautifully exposed. (5.12a 45m) P4: Climb up a right-facing corner with a small bolt-protected roof near the top. Harder than it looks. (5.10+ 25m) P5: trad. Climb up and left through easier ground to the summit. Beaware of large loose blocks. (5.4 25m) (FA: D Lussier, V Hempsall,  B Sawyer ’12. FFA: D Lussier, J Luthy ’14)

Vince at the 2nd belay
Dave on the crux pitch
Dave on the crux pitch
Dave at the summit
Dave at the summit
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