OverviewThe South Ridge of Mount Gimli is a classic alpine route. The rock is stellar, the approach reasonable, there is no glacier travel to deal with, and the descent involves no rappelling.
Getting ThereThe 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. Gimli is visible to the north (your right as you are driving in).
The trail 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. There are camping spots here (although the route can be done car to car in a day for a relatively fast party starting early). There is a toilet here – please use it. There are also places to find water, but water can be harder to find close to the camping spot later in the season.
There is a 5.10 variation that joins the normal route at the start of pitch 3 - this is accessed by walking down to the lowest point of the talus slope on the right side of the buttress; just around the corner from this lowest point, there is a large right facing dihedral - this is the start of the 5.10 variation.
The third variation is to the left side of the toe of the buttress - it climbs a larger chimney/crack system and is fairly obvious as it looks like the easist line. This is a good line to take if you want to avoid what many people think are the hardest pitches (the first two).
The following route description is for the normal route and is found at the North American Classics website - Route Description from North American Classic webpage
There is some discrepancy between sources regarding the grades of each pitch. I have done the route a number of times and feel the following grades are fair:
Pitch 1 – 5.8+ (often people find this the hardest pitch)
Pitch 2 – 5.7
Pitch 3 – 5.7 (you can go straight up for pitch 3, but the protection is harder to come by and the grade is about 10a)
Pitch 4 – 5.6
Pitch 5 – 5.6
Pitch 6 – 5.9 (the crux is pulling a small roof; often it is wet here, making is seem harder)
Pitch 7 – 5.6
Afternoon thunderstorms are very common here - plan to be off the mountain by 2 p.m.
Essential GearA regular alpine rack (you will need to build most of your stations) - a #4 friend/camalot is not required. One 60 metre rope will do, but two are safer in case you have to bail.
The DescentThe descent is an exposed (4th class) walk off via the East Ridge. From the summit cairn follow smaller cairns to the start of the exposed descent. The first 200-300 metres are the most exposed and short roping less experienced parties is a good idea. Once this section is completed, follow the ridge down until you can head right into the large gully. From here, you can descent and traverse back to the start of the route, or head down to join up with the trail.
External LinksHere are a few links to sites with information on Gimli:
North American Classics
Gravity Adventures - Nelson, B.C.