Tool TimeIf you’ve ever spent any time in the beautiful box canyon where Whiteman Falls pours forth in all its glory, you might have noticed the inviting crack system splitting a dark slab next to the ice route. This is Redman Jams, a variation to the renown Redman Soars mixed route that starts a few feet around the corner.
Redman Soars was established by Barry Blanchard, Joe Josephson, and Tim Pochay in 1993, using some points of aid. It was freed a year later by Doug Heinrich and Alex Lowe. Take into account the skill of these climbers when considering the grade. As far as I know, Jams isn’t in any guidebook, although I heard about it (and the M6 rating) from a guide.
Both lines are excellent, sustained, technical dry tooling routes with good trad pro that join up on the same narrow smear of ice. Either first pitch is about 40 meters to a bolted anchor. A short second pitch on thin, run-out ice goes to a fixed anchor. Or do it as a single pitch if you have more than one stubbie and don't mind a ton of rope drag. Doing both versions of the climb is highly recommended and if you finish early go for a burn on Whiteman’s.
Getting ThereFrom the Trans Canada Highway take Highway 40 south to the Kananaskis Lakes Trail junction, where the road is closed in winter. Ski or snowshoe (maybe mountain biking in dry conditions) up the road for 5k, until you reach Valley View Road going up hill to the left. Follow this road for a couple hundred meters until you reach a creek on your left. Ditch approach apparatus here and hike up the drainage. Solo a couple of steps of WI3 (which can be rapped with a single 60 from a fixed anchor on the way down). Behold the glory of Whiteman Falls. Redman starts a few meters to the right.
Route DescriptionRedman Soars (M5+). Walk into the gulley and start climbing the corner. Lots of crampons scratches show you the most popular start. If you’re not accustomed to crappy Canadian Rockies rock (like me), the start might seem a bit sketch. Not hard really, just hard to trust the loose blocks and sloping feet. It gets better. Move left to the arête, then back right to the corner, following the best cracks. Enjoy sinker tool placements and steep climbing on decent gear. In March 2009 there were three fixed pins, including a nest of tat hanging off the third, which is backed up by a fixed nut, and protects the transition to ice. There’s not much ice to swing into but I found good hooks. On the short, steep section of ice, you may or may not be able to get in a stubbie. Continue up lower angled ice to the belay. If you have an extra stubbie and don’t mind a lot of rope drag, you can continue up the next pitch. There's not much pro to be had on this pitch.
Redman Jams (M6). Head up the obvious crack on the face. About halfway up it widens to a handcrack. Shoulder your tools and start jamming the crack to a roof. Traverse right under the roof and around the arête, where you join Redman Soars, just before the ice starts. This is might be the technical crux; it’s certainly the head crux. There’s a fixed pin just inside the arête.
Between Whiteman and Redman there’s a bolted mixed route called Hovering Half Breed, M7+, which starts on the bottom of Whiteman’s ice.
Descent: Rap the route with two ropes.
Essential GearTools, set of cams to #3, nuts, two stubbies, double ropes.
Redman Soars. I didn’t place anything bigger than a BD .75 but cams from TCUs to BD #1 and a set of nuts and two stubbies would be a good rack.
Redman Jams: In addition to the previous gear, you’ll want BD #2 and #3 and maybe doubles, #1-3 (or run out the hand crack).