Song and a Prayer is a relatively recent Larry DeAngelo addition to Windy Peak’s south face in 2005. After you get through Hot Fudge Thursday (5.9) and Jubliant Song (5.8), the rest of Windy Peak’s routes are fairly obscure, owing mostly to the approach. It is not much by Canadian Rockies standards, but more than most of the lower 48 will endure for a six pitch route. Windy Peak is named such for a reason, the upper face is south facing and the prevailing winds from west to east can enter the head space of leaders en route. The descent however is a walk off making the route more plausible despite windy conditions and/or cold conditions.
The approach and setting for the south face of Windy Peak is outstanding. The route Song and Prayer offers three decent and worthwhile long pitches despite the run out rating. It is a fast climb for the competent party and a great alternative to Jubilant Song which can be quite popular on a typical winter Saturday. To date, Larry has not published a pitch by pitch rating but rates the route 5.10aR in general. The first pitch goes fast and easy just to the right of Jubilant Song’s corner up an obvious discontinuous crack system to the same belay ledge as Jubilant Song’s first pitch. The 2nd, 4th and 5th pitches are the three before mentioned nice long pitches. The 2nd pitch steepens on excellent varnished, brick like, rock. The pro is a little more exploratory than the first pitch, but it is all there. I combined pitches 3 and 4 easily without much rope drag issues utilizing double ropes. Cross over left of the normal Jubilant Song 2nd belay and up and out of an easy chimney onto an arête. Continue up on easy ground, avoiding placing too much gear (for rope drag purposes) to a sloping ledge. This is where the 5.10R climbing section is straight above and to the left. A full set of sliding ball nuts are reccomended if you expect to protect this crux of the climb properly. The ground was steep and run out but I did not feel any of the climbing was above 5.9 really. Larry did a good job cleaning this portion of the climb. Move up carefully on average quality rock. As the rock starts to improve so does the pro. A full 60 meters leads to a hanging belay below a white dihedral. The 5th pitch traverses out right into beautiful brownstone rock. The crack above into the brownstone offers great climbing once again. The last pitch is short and uneventful and leads to what they call the “Bandstand Ledge”. From there, scramble 4th class to the summit plateau.
The general approach hike is the same for all the climbs on the south face. Descend from the trail head looking to gain a trail that eventually circumvents the obvious large pile of brown and red rocks to the right. Descend into a wash from there and attempt to pick up a faint trial that leads up into the canyon. Gain a trail that climbs the left side of the canyon until you reach what they refer to as the “football field”, which is basically a large vegetated plateau that is still separated from the south wall by another peak of sorts. Follow well marked cairns at this point (2009) as they direct you up and right at the other end of the “field”. Eventually gain a saddle of sorts and traverse the slick rock in front of you over to the base of the south face. Jubilant Song is to the left and Hot Fudge Thursday to the right from where you emerge here.
Route Description900’, 6 Pitches, 5.10aR
1st Pitch- 80’- 5.7/ Follow the discontinuous cracks straight up and right of Jubilant Song’s corner. Belay off of a tree on the large ledge above.
2nd Pitch- 180’- 5.8/ Start up the thin crack and place gear when available. Plenty of holds venture back and forth. Use a crack to the right, then move back left, then back right heading straight for the chimney above. Right before the chimney below the big roof, which has loose rock in it, move left to the Jubilant Corner and set up belay here which will allow for you to combine pitches 3 and 4 more easily.
3rd-4th Pitches- 190’- 5.10aR/ Move up and left out of an easy short chimney and onto an arête. Continue following a large crack on easy ground to a sloping ledge. Move left and start up the thin seam which only takes slider ball nuts for pro for the most part. Although it looks like Larry and company cleaned this steep run out portion fairly well, move carefully as you weight the holds (sloping ledge below). Follow the seam on steep run out ground, trending right, until you start to run into large varnished jugs and cracks start to form for pro. Set up a hanging belay with a 3” and smaller piece below the white dihedral above. This pitch offers some exposure basically following the curve of the Jubilant Song roof below, the traverse pitch of that route. The wind can be intense on this pitch as you have lost protection of the main corner.
5th Pitch- 200’- 5.9/ Traverse out right fairly immediately on decent varnish, after placing one piece. Do not get sucked up the dihedral on poor rock. Get into the crack running up the beautiful brownstone rock. Be judicious in placing gear to avoid rope drag as this will be a full rope length pitch. Pull a small bulge and angle up left to the top of this varnished section. Continue up easy blocky ground above and belay in a small alcove that offers protection from the wind, a full 200’.
6th Pitch- 50’- 5.6/ Finish off the route up a varnished crack to the large “Bandstand Ledge” above. Scramble for another 200’ or so to the summit plateau. We put the ropes away and followed the ramp up and left to a chimney with a tree and just scrambled up this chimney although it is probably 5th class. You can also traverse back right at this point if you wanted to avoid this section.