Super Bock is another of series of climbs named after beers in Field, British Columbia.
It is found on the east end of Mt Stephen and have few options in terms of approach.
One of them is to drive to Field, and walk from there for around 3km on rail tracks (east),
the other option is to park the car on the side road of the HW1, cross the river, walk up, go along the tracks (west) for few hundred meters and go up from there.
After walking over 12km the day before to The Professor Falls, we’ve opted for river crossing.
After leaving Canmore around 7.30am, we arrived to Field, found roadside parking, marked the car and where ready to begin our hike.
As we were corssing the river (which is roadside) We got warned by local Park Marshals that they will be avalanche bombing Mt Stephen in around 2h – interestingly enough that mountain wasn’t listed on the bulletin we were looking the night before.
Avalanche danger isn’t a joke. Thirteen people have died in avalanches this year in Canada, 12 of them were snowmobilers. Four were killed within 48 hours on March 13 and 14.
We obviously turned around to the car and were let through to Field (the road was completely closed and no vehicles were allowed either direction.
A this point the cars queue was over 0.5km
As I mentioned in one of the previous reports – Field is very small settlement, with no services and nothing to do. We found though what we thought was a coffee shop but turned out to be bistro&lodge – http://www.trufflepigs.com/ – somehow (probably thanks to Del’s charm) we got served coffee.
Well, we got stuck in Fields for couple of hours anyway so we spoke with the reception girl for a while – it turns out that what climbers call peak season (Feb/March) – it’s a low season for them – and this place seems like a great base for ice climbers – the room pricing is affordable (between 100 and 150CAD) and the routes are very accessible – may I remind that for us it was almost 2h drive each direction from Canmore.
After around 1.5h we’ve noticed that the road was opened again so we hit the road.
We’ve parked on our previous spot and looked at the bomb induced avalanches (they drop explosives from helicopters).
After the situation settled we begin to cross the river again.
Deep deep snow on the initial approach:
Watch out for the train:
And this is the spot where you turn off the tracks. Note the orange warning sign – is rather obvious. Also it’s a good idea to put on crampons now. It’s still a long and steep walk from here…
Even though it looks close now, it’s still far away…
And we already walked for good 30 mins. Car is parked on the crossing on the roads seen here (kind of middle of the photo).
Before the final straight to Pitch 1, there is a little mini ledge, where we actually stopped to put crampons on, as from now on you are entering ice territory and can’t proceed without front-points.
Home stretch to P1- and yet 150m of WI5 in front of us!
P1, (WI3-4, 25m) in all its glory – with fantastic rock arch above as led by P.
There are 2 pegs and a bolt for belay at the top of that pitch… and another couple hundred meters of snow covered, steep walking.
P2 Wi4, 60m. Del about to lead it.
but wait – where are my quickdraws?
It is really a long one:
There is a 10m slope between P2 and P3. Padriac was quick to gear up and lead it.
P3 – (crux pitch, Wi5 in ice lines book it says 65m, but it’ a good idea to break it in 2. We’ve learned hard way that it’s much more than that to top tree belay).
This is probably good spot to belay from (off screws), as it’s still around 40m to the trees (top right) from that spot (after already going for 30m!).
The weather was breaking rapidly, snow and cold were hitting us hard.
Del went 2nd, I waited till he goes right and followed. At this point lines were pretty wet and frozen.
It took us a looooong time to finish that pitch…
We really wanted to get down ASAP. Nobody was in a mood for top out photos – as they say – victory is only when you are safely on the ground.
End of abseil 1. ALWAYS remember about the knots at the end of the ropes boys and girls.
The first abseil is awkward as you start from top right and got to finish on the left. Some needed a helping hand (axe) 😉
2nd abseil gets you just to the bottom of Pitch 2.
Still long and dangerous walk to top of P1. This is where you can get in some serious avy troubles.
Last abseil – difficult to miss, but still possible 😉
Leave your crampons on – the walk is still long.
You’ll take them off at the rail tracks:
Beware of the trains. They are quite frequent:
One more steep walk off, spring is coming though!
So is waist deep snow:
And the train!
Amazing view of the CP Train, our route and the moon!
Del and I were too fat and falling into snow with every step… New way of traveling was invented.
I don’t give a shit moment.
Long day it was. Great adventure though! It was around 8.30pm by the time we got back to Canmore.
The next day (today, 16th March) is a well deserved day off, when we can rest, regroup and plan the remaining few days of this fantastic trip.