Wilson Major, III, WI 4

Wilson Major, III, WI 4

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 52.01944°N / 116.8°W
Additional Information Route Type: Ice Climbing
Seasons Season: Winter
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: WI 3-6
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


Avalanche- Wilson Major

This is a 2000’+/- ascent day. The ideal time to climb Major Wilson is during the winter months when Lady Wilson’s Cleavage is in shape so you can practically strap your crampons on from the car. We were looking for the last ice in May up and down the parkway and noticed Wilson Major was still in when coming back from Shades of Beauty farther north. What we failed to recognize or think much about was the bushwhack approach on either side of Lady Wilson’s Cleavage which was running falls on any steep sections. (photo) I went right and Adam went left to give us a better chance of failure I guess, but in the end climbers left had much less deadfall and was easier to navigate.

Wilson Major Approach

They both allow you to come back into the drainage just below the narrow terrain trap that leads up and out to a large bowl where you find Wilson Major and Lady Wilson’s Right Tit (photos). It is imperative that you scoot through this terrain trap in a minimal amount of time. Your view of what is above is limited and during our approach we were basically maneuvering through huge ice debris that had been deposited by previous major avalanches (photo). Once through the canyon like section, ascend to your right to the base of Wilson Major, a 500’ wide section of ice curtain in the WI 3-6 range (photo). To the right is a smaller section of ice, Lady Wilson’s Right Tit (photo). During our climb, an avalanche did run over Lady Wilson’s Right Tit, so I advise perfect conditions to be climbing to the right or pursuing Phil Spectre’s Nightmare further up to the left. The large quartzite towers let go of snow to our left no less than a half a dozen times as we were climbing Wilson Major (photos). Basically we felt we were in the only safe location for the time of year we were climbing, mostly due to a good size tree bench above Wilson Major.

Route Description

Wilson Major Climb

You could climb this curtain all day and not climb the same line twice. Most are just full 60 meter pitches. We did a route to the left that required one full pitch and one short pitch to reach the trees. It starts out above a rock band (photo) and gradually steepened to grade 4. The very last meters at the top were steep enough that I did not want to take the time to put any screws in. Once you top out of the curtain, you have to meander through snow and rock over to some nice hard ice to place a station. This route uses every mm of 60 meters. There is thick ice to build a bomber station among some short ice pillars (photo). The second pitch gives a few meters of steep ice and then tops out on the tree bench. We found a rappel sling on a tree at this level, but assumed the rap was probably longer than 60 meters. We lowered and traversed skiers left to use rap slings on trees that were just above steeper WI 5-6 sections of Wilson Major (photo).

Essential Gear

Bear Tracks-Avalanche-Lady Wilson s Right Tit

Two Ice Tools, Double 60 meter Ropes, 12+ Ice Screws and Draws, Crampons, Helmet, Warm Clothes, Full Shank Boots (avalanche gear would be a smart addition for this one)

External Links

  • Parks Canada
  • Canadian Avalanche Association
  • 100’s of Canmore and Banff National Park multi-pitch rock climbs, ice climbs, alpine climbs and scrambles, just scroll down to routes
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