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AUG
5
2009

MT. GIMLI, South Ridge (IV, 5.10a)    (+ Valhallas overview)

Category: British Columbia/Alberta      Trip Report #: 72
Partner: Clint Cummins
Elev: 9,100 ft

Clint and I had planned on spending a number of nights in the Valhallas, but a poor weather forecast and Clint's sore ankle shortened our trip to just a day climb of Gimli. The route follows the stunning south ridge on wonderful Gneiss. It was worth the long drive just for this one route!

Trip Overview

Pitch-by-pitch photo trip report for South Ridge of Gimli. Jump to TR
Overview of Valhallas, including maps, approach, camping, and peaks/climbs. Jump to Overview

The Valhalla Range is a dramatically diverse area in the Selkirks of SW British Columbia, about 100km south of the Bugaboos. Along the southwestern boundary of Valhalla Provincial Park is an outstanding group of spires including Mount Dag, Wolf's Ears, Gimli, Asgard, and Gladsheim, all over 2,660m. These peaks offer great climbing.

Mount Gimli is one of the most dramatic and accessible of the spires. The mountain is beautiful from all angles, but is particularly stunning when viewed from the south. From this viewpoint, the South Ridge forms a spectacular arête that begs to be climbed. And even more pleasing, the south ridge is composed of perfect gneiss and can be climbed at a moderate 5.8 grade over 7 pitches (although the grade of this route was listed as 5.10a in the most recent guide, due to a crux move on an upper pitch; the route is steep and sustained, so should not be underestimated). The approach is relatively short and there are no glaciers or snow to contend with.

Clint and I had planned to spend a few nights in the Valhallas climbing a few of the classic routes. However, due to some threats of thundershowers, we decided to climb Gimli car-to-car. This was a stellar climb, and I definitely have plans to return to climb some of the other routes. (3 weeks later I returned to climb 4 more climbs, click this link for TR!)

The following page first gives a pitch-by-pitch photo trip report of our climb of the South Ridge of Gimli. Then, I have given a general overview of the Valhallas, including maps, approach, camping, and other peaks and climbs.

Enjoy!



GIMLI, South Ridge (5.8++, III, 7p)

Beta: Walk right to the base of the striking south ridge and climb upward, staying on or near the ridgecrest the whole way up. This is great climbing. Descend via the East Ridge (3rd).

Pitch 1
Pitch 1: 5.8+ corner to ledge. (Often people find this the hardest pitch.)

Photo: The party ahead of us belaying up first pitch. (Photo by Steph)
Pitch 2
Pitch 2: Fun and airy 5.7 to chockstone.

Photo: Steph leading off the 2nd pitch. (Photo by Clint)
Pitch 3
Pitch 3: Fun and airy 5.7 to small tree.

Photo: Steph leading the 3rd pitch. (Photo by Clint)
Pitch 4
Pitch 4: Fun and airy 5.6 to top of lunch ledges. 60m pitch.

Photo: Midway up the 4th pitch. This lieback crack seemed a bit harder than 5.6, but it was fun! (Photo by Clint)
Pitch 5
Pitch 5: Fun and airy 5.8 to base of open book. 60m pitch.

Photo: Looking up the upper pitches of the route from the nice grassy Lunch Ledges. (Photo by Clint)
Pitch 6
Pitch 6: Open book and 5.10a crux (rating in recent guide) move to get around left side of roof, to small ledge.

Photo: Clint on the crux move around the roof. The S Ridge used to be rated at 5.8, but the recent guide books have bumped the grade to 5.10a (or 5.9+) because of this move. Most climbers will agree that this is no 5.8 move! (Photo by Steph)
Pitch 7
Pitch 7: 5.7 to below rock fin.

Photo: Looking down the pitch. (Photo by Clint)
To Summit To Summit: From top of Pitch 7, simulclimb mostly 3rd class to summit.

Photo 1: Steph near the first summit (the second summit behind is actually higher). (Photo by Clint)
Photo 2: Clint on the true summit. (Photo by Steph)
Descent Descent: Descend path and follow cairns on East Ledges, Class 2 and 3.

Photo 1:Route line of the East Ledges descent. (Photo by Steph)
Photo 2:Route line of the upper East Ledges descent. (Photo by Steph)



OVERVIEW of the VALHALLAS

Above: Labeled panorama of the Valhalla Range (Click on image to enlarge.)

LACK OF BETA IS A GOOD THING!

The Valhalla Range is a dramatically diverse area in the Selkirks of SW British Columbia, about 100km south of the Bugaboos. Along the southwestern boundary of Valhalla Provincial Park is an outstanding group of spires including Mount Dag, Wolf's Ears, Gimli, Asgard, and Gladsheim, all over 2,660m. These peaks offer great climbing.

The lack of published beta for these climbs is part of what makes the Valhallas unique and challenging. It is nice to find an area of great climbing where there is not a myriad of route descriptions detailing every turn on every possible climbing line. With the internet, many climbing areas are suffering from beta overload. I was strangely pleased when a Google search of the Valhallas yielded only ample information on one climb - the popular South Ridge of Gimli (my trip report given above) - leaving the other peaks/climbs relatively untainted. There does actually exist a guidebook for the area. An out-of-print Columbia Mountains of Canada West & South (by Whipple) reportedly contains errors and lacks descriptions for more recent routes. A new 2009 West Kootenay Rock Guide (by Kristiansen and Hempsall) provides some useful updated information on accessing the Valhallas, but contains only a few of the routes on just a couple of the peaks. For most climbs in the Valhallas, the only route description that exists is the feature name (i.e. "south ridge", "east face", ect.), so finding and climbing the route lines on the peaks themselves is a challenge left up to the climber.

Although I'm of the opinion that the Valhallas should be kept untainted by today's tendency to overdo route beta, below I've summarized the useful information on the Valhallas that I was able to glean from the guidebooks and internet searches. I've also provided lots of photos and trip reports for the climbs I've done in the Valhallas (on this page and others), but I've tried to leave the beta on the climbs themselves relatively vague. As I mentioned, most climbs in the Valhallas are just described by their feature name.

GETTING TO THE VALHALLAS

Map of BC showing location of Valhallas (and Bugaboos for reference).
A map showing the major peaks of the Valhallas and the approach from the town of Slocan. (This map is a clip taken from the Valhalla Provincial Park Map from the BC Parks website.)
The 26km gravel road between Slocan and the trailhead is well-signed.
Trailhead for the Valhallas. Gimli is the closest and most climbed peak, and can be seen from the trailhead. It takes less than 2 hours to get to the base of Gimli, which is 2.5km and 700m elevation gain from the trailhead. But beware, it can be difficult to find a parking spot on a sunny summer weekend!

The Valhallas are located at the south end of Valhalla Provincial Park in southeastern British Columbia, Canada. The are above the border of Washington and Idaho. They are not far to the SW of the Bugaboos.

The first part of the approach is getting to Slocan, B.C. – there are a number of ways to do this: either from the north through Revelstoke (which involves a free ferry ride) or from the south via Castlegar. Slocan is situated at the south end of Slocan Lake, adjacent to Valhalla Provincial Park to the west and Kokanee Provincial Park to the east.

Just south (about 1 kilometre) of the main exit (well signed) to Slocan there is a road called the "gravel pit road" – turn west here (right if coming from Revelstoke). Follow this road across the Slocan River and south until the 15 kilometre road marker, at which time you will turn right. Follow the blue "Valhalla" signs until you reach the trailhead at 26km (16 miles). The road is 2 wheel drive.

From the trailhead, Gimli is visible to the north. Gimli is the closest and most climbed peak, and the route can be done car to car in a day for a relatively fast party starting early. It takes less than 2 hours to get to the base of Gimli, which is 2.5km and 700m elevation gain from the trailhead.

The trail to Gimli starts out relatively flat but after crossing a log bridge is switchbacks up steeply all the way to a small saddle near the beginning of the South Ridge. The peaks on the southern side of the range - such as Dag, Wolf's Ears, Gimli, and Niselheim - can be approached from here.

The trail continues to the col between Niselheim and Gimli, and from here down to Mulvey Lakes. Crampons and ice axe are needed for the descent from the col. It takes a couple hours to get from the base of Gimli to Mulvey Lakes. From Mulvey Lakes, the peaks on the northern side of the Valhalla range - such as Midgard, Asgard, Gladsheim, and West Molar - can be climbed.

CAMPING IN THE VALHALLAS

Camp below the S Ridge of Gimli.
Camping at Mulvey Lake (I got this from Dru's TR on cc.com, since I've never camped at Mulvey Lakes).
Upper Mulvey Lakes basin has lots of streams and small tarns, and is a great place to camp for accessing cimbs on the north side of Gimli or on Asgard. This photo shows star trails over Gimli and Niselheim from camp (80 minute exposure).
Friendly mountain goat.

There are a couple of camping spots below the South RIdge of Gimli, less than 2 hours from the trailhead. There is an outhouse here. The water source here is a couple of snowpatches, which could be gone by late August/September.

Parties planning on an extended stay in the Valhallas often base themselves in Mulvey Lakes basin on the north side of the Gimli-Niselheim col about 2 hours further from the camp under the S Ridge of Gimli. There is always water here. There are nice camps in the upper basin or along the shore of the largest Mulvey Lake below. There is always water here. From here, the peaks on the northern side of the col can be climbed.

There are mountain goats and snafflehounds in the Valhallas, so make sure to hang your food from boulders.

PEAKS/CLIMBS in the VALHALLAS

There are several peaks in the Valhallas. Most climbs in the Valhallas are just described by their feature name, and there is very little beta on the climbs themselves, which is part of the uniqueness and appeal of the area. Below, I've provided a list of routes on the major peaks. There are doubtless some climbs I have missed, and there's lots of potential for new routes in the Valhallas, so my list will become outdated with time.

This list was initially compiled by Clint Cummins (link to Clint's page). I have occasionally updated the list as I have become aware of new routes. Here are the sources we have used:

Sources:

SMG = http://summitmountainguides.com (online)
AAJ = American Alpine Journal (online and in print)
RC = rockclimbing.com
CC = trip reports on cascadeclimbers.com, by Drew Brayshaw and John Frieh
Gripped magazine August/September 2008, article by Kim Kratky www.gripped.com
• 1992
Guidebook (out of print and with some errors; I have not looked at it): The Columbia Mountains of Canada West & South, Earle R. Whipple, et al, ed, American Alpine Club Press, 1992.
WK = 2009 Guidebook (short section on Valhallas): West Kootenay Rock Guide, by Aaron Kristiansen, Vince Hempsall. $26.95 (CND). Distributed by MEC, also available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Gravity Climbing Gym in Nelson, BC.

The Dag group (Dag, Little Dag, Batwing, Nott) as seen from the summit of Asgard (i.e. from the NW). These peaks have impressive north side routes, such as in the photo below of the north side of Dag, from the Fred Beckey collection (possibly ?? taken during his first ascent of the SW Face of Gladsheim in 1976).
Dag (2744m, 12 hour approach to North Face routes)
1. Dag - Ankles as Far as the Eye Can See 5.11 A1, VI, NE Face, (Ankles Aweigh?) 23p: 3 5.11, 9 5.10, bring pitons for some belays, AAJ2001
2.
Dag - Ankles Me Boy VI 5.9+ A2, N Face direct, gully to ledge, 11 pitches above the ledge, AAJ2001
3.
Dag - Suite Judy Blue Eyes VI 5.9 A3, N Buttress, gully to face above R edge of ledge, mossy cracks
4.
Dag - Riding Skinfaxi VI 5.11d, right of buttress crest, some wide cracks and chimneys, RC, CAJ2003, SMG
5. Dag -
West ridge traverse III 5.2, SMG
6. Nott to Dag traverse

Little Dag (2680m)
1. Little Dag - North Buttress, quite mossy
2.
Little Dag - North Face 5.8, 22p, maybe same as N Buttress?

Batwing (2640m)
1. Batwing - NW Corner of West Ridge, AAJ1970

Nott (2580m)
1. Nott - Moss Ridge 5.5, North buttress, mossy but good, approach from Mulvey Basin
Wolf's Ears as seen from camp under South Ridge of Gimli (i.e. from the west).
Wolf's Ears (2732m)
1. Wolf's Ears - not any beta I can find, but looks as if there are scramble routes to the top from the south side without having to descend into Mulvey Basin
2.
West Wolf’s Ear - The Gift, III 5.11+ 200m, SMG (new route as of June 2008)
3. West Wolf’s Ear - SW Face 5.11c/d, maybe same as The Gift?, WK
4. West Wolf’s Ear - Full West Ridge III 5.8, SMG
5. West Wolf’s Ear - Regular West Ridge II 5.5, SMG
6. East Wolf's Ear - East Ridge II 5.2, SMG
7. East Wolf's Ear - Southeast Ridge 5.7, WK
Gimli from the south.
Gimli (2806m=9100ft)
1. Gimli - South Ridge, aka Southeast Ridge,
5.8++ (or 5.10a), 8p, RC, Gripped June/July 2001, My Trip Report!
2. Gimli - South Ridge Left start 5.7?, 2p, chimneys on L side of rib
3. Gimli - South Ridge Right start 5.10, 2p, starts right and below standard rib
4. Gimli - NW Buttress Right Edge III 5.8, incut holds on a steep and exposed corner, AAJ1990
5. Gimli - NE Buttress/North Ridge - 5.6, 10p, AAJ1970, My Trip Report!
6. Gimli - E Face - 5.0
7. Gimli - East Ridge 3rd, use for descent
8.
Gimli - Space Buttress 5.12d or 5.11+ C1, 8p, just L of crest of overhanging buttress on W face, 2 aid moves, freed on toprope?, www.gravityadventures.net, RC
9.
Gimli - Lusting After Women 5.10c, 8p, corner system to roofs in center of SW Face, bolted station at top of p4 under roof, recent rockfall?, photos at RC, Gripped
10. Gimli - South Face Direct 5.11, WK
11. Gimli - Slave to Gravity, SW Face, 5.12- or 5.11a A0, 6p, found this in the summit register as a FA by Aaron Kristiansen and JT Croston on July 16, 2009!
12. Gimli - SW Face L 5.10c?, WK
13. Gimli - SW Face R 5.11?, WK
14. Gimli - Licken It 5.11a?, on E face, WK
15. Gimli - Licken It L var. 5.10c?, joins Lichen It, WK

Niselheim from the Niselheim-Gimli col (i.e. from the east).
Niselheim (2580m)
1. Niselheim - East Ridge 5.7, 4p, CC, My Trip Report!
2. Niselheim - South Ridge 5.6
3. Niselheim - North Ridge, 5.7?, WK
4. Niselheim - NW Ridge 4th, use for descent
5. Niselheim - South Face variant finishes, L=5.9 and R=10b/d, WK

The three summits of Mount Prestley from the drive to the trailhead (i.e. from the south).
Prestley (2732m, west peak is main/highest)
1. Prestley - East Ridge, AAJ1970
2. Prestley Central - West Ridge,
AAJ197
Midgard from Niselheim-Gimli col (i.e. from the south).
Midgard (2807m)
1. Midgard - North Ridge 3rd, CC
2. Midgard - South Ridge 3rd,
CC
Asgard from below its south face.
Asgard (2825m)
1. Asgard - West Ridge 5.5, 5p, RC
2. Asgard - SW Ridge 5.7, same as West Ridge?
3. Asgard - South Face Left 5.8, 5.7 R slab to R-leaning arch, 4p in cleft, exit crack,
RC, My Trip Report!
4. Asgard - South Face Center IV 5.8, 7p, left-slanting cracks and roofs, some recent rockfall,
RC
5. Asgard - South Face Right - Étoile Filante IV 5.11c, 300m, SMG (new route as of July 2011)
6. Asgard - SE Ridge 5.7, 3p, joins East ridge at top,
CC
7. Asgard - East Ridge, Class 3, use for descent
8. Asgard - North Ridge III 5.7, AAJ1975

Gladsheim and West Molar from Niselheim-Gimli col (i.e. from the south). Mulvey Lake below.
Gladsheim (2830m)
1. Gladsheim - West Ridge 5.3, 2-3 hours, RC,
use for descent
2. Gladsheim - Full West Ridge III 5.6, SMG
3. Gladsheim - West Face, aka Southwest Face, III 5.8, 8p, p1 steep dirty dihedral, AAJ1977
4. Gladsheim - Koedt-Rowat SW Face 5.9, 5+p,
RC
5. Gladsheim - Brown-Marcus SW Face var. 5.8, 5p + 400m scrambling, CC
6. Gladsheim - South Face, AAJ1970
7. Gladsheim - South Face, The White Dihedral IV 5.10d,
SMG
8. Gladsheim - Southeast Ridge, AAJ1970
9. Gladsheim - North Ridge Bypass, IV 5.10b, SMG (new route as of Aug 2008)
10. Trireme Wall (on west end of Gladsheim) - West Ridge 5.6, 4p, aesthetic ridge climbing to top of West side of Gladsheim massive, My Trip Report!
11.
Trireme Wall (on west end of Gladsheim) - Up middle of S Face

Gladsheim - First Ascent on Labour Day weekend, 1963. Email to me from Jack Oswald regarding his party's first ascent: "[The First Ascent of Gladsheim] was back in 1963 , I think. It was on the Labour Day weekend. Details of this first ascent were submitted to the Alpine Club of Canada and were presented in their annual journal about 1964, or 5. The writeup was done by the expedition leader, Kim Dean. The first ascent was by five people on two ropes. Kim Dean and Parker Williams led on the first rope. They were followed by three of us on the second rope. Rope leader was Bud Stoval, second was myself, Jack Oswald, and last on the rope, Mike Stewart. I was the only one carrying a 35 mm camera, and taking several pictures on slides. t was a memorable day as the weather was clear. We ate lunch on the peak of Gladsheim, and sat marvelling at the 360 degree view. Our descent was OK, but adventurous."

West Molar (East of Gladsheim)
1. West Molar - South Face IV 5.8, AAJ1975

Molars
1. Molars - original routes on some of them

AERIAL PHOTOS

In the years since I first climbed in the Valhallas and put together this Valhallas overview page, I have had the unique and incredible opportunity to join pilot/photographer John Scurlock on aerial photography adventures which included fliying over the Valhallas. To date John and I have flown over the Valhallas on three occasions capturing the spectacular range in three different seasons:

(1) Fall: September 2011,
(2) Spring: May 2012, and
(3) Winter: March 2013.

Click links for aerial photo trip reports. Below are some of my favorite photos from these amazing flights.

Aerial Photos from September 2011:

Gimli Peak, S ridge (a classic climb)
Gimli Peak, S Ridge
Gimli Peak, SW face
Gimli Peak, NE buttress/N RIdge
Gimli above Mulvey Lake, Wolf's Ears and Dag in background
Wolf's Ears, W side



Aerial Photos from May 2012:

Gimli Peak, NE side
Gimli Peak, SE side
Gimli Peak, S ridge (a classic climb)
Gimli Peak, SW side
Gladsheim Peak, N side
Gladsheim Peak, N side
Gladsheim Peak, SW side (lots of unclimbed rock here!)
Mt. Dag N Side (there are 3 Grade VI big wall climbs on this face)


Aerial Photos from March 2013:

Quite a lineup! Dag, Batwing, Wolf's Ears, Gimli, Niselheim, Midgard
The impressive north side of Dag
A color version of the impressive north side of Dag
Prestley and Gimli from the SE
Midgard (left), Asgard (behind), Niselheim (front), Gimli (front), from the S
Wolf's Ears, Batwing, Dag from the W
Gimli W side
Gladsheim and Asgard from the NW
Gimli from the N
Gladsheim from the E
Gladsheim from the SE

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