A bold route that climbs the broken “X” shaped corners up the rock scar on the North Tower of Mt. Colonel Foster. We were intending to re-climb the North Buttress route on the North Tower but when this obvious line came into view we had to reconsider. Route finding would be easy and Mike and I had descended from the Tower before so we decided to give the new line ago. Aaron took lead on the first pitch and I lead the 2nd pitch, both on relatively solid rock. Once into the right slanting corner the rock deteriorated for the next 4 pitches where even the belays were tricky to set. The remaining pitches out left from the center of the “X” were on pretty good rock.
The 300 meter tall rock scar was the result of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 1946, which caused over 1,000,000 m3 rock to break off and slide into Landslide Lake. A huge wave spilled out of the lake and scoured the Elk River valley down to bedrock for about 1 Km.
FFA John & Mike Waters, Aaron Hamilton, August 11, 2001
The hike in along the Elk River Trail is good and easy to Landslide Lake. Follow the winding trail trough slide alder and Conifers on the east(left) side of Landslide Lake up to the cirque (Foster Lake) below the East face of Mt. Colonel Foster (4-6 hours from car). Cross the stream and continue up the old terminal moraines, then bushwhack up the larger timber path to the boulder field above. This takes about 1hr from Foster Lake through steep blue berry bushes and slide alder. Continue west on the boulder field and up a wide loose scree gully towards the North Col. Traverse left and up across rock/snow to the obvious corner system. (about 2 hrs from Foster Lake)
Grade: 5.9 (IV), sustained 5.5 to 5.9, 9 pitches, 16 hrs round trip from Foster lake.
A mentally challenging route with poor gear and much rock fall. The highlights were loose flakes, dicey run-out faces and a scary unprotected chimney on pitch four.
P1- start up corner to the only good belay on small ledge.
P2-solid start to loose corner(low 5th) with no gear to main right slanting corner system.
P3-follow broken corner right, swinging onto steep face to avoid super nasty rock.
P4-climb broken corner and exciting 10m high chimney to a poor belay.
P5- a short pitch of leads into the middle of “X” and finally a good belay!
P6-Climb left out of gully on loose block flakes to a good belay.
P7-climb the ramp to a steep chimney with some good gear. Good rock.
P8-climb good rock up the gully or try the steep finger/hand crack(5.8)
P9-traverse left around the roof , then easy scrambling for about 100 meters to summit.
To descend (4-6hrs)
Make 4 steep raps straight down to the snowy col between the North Tower and the NW peak. Down climb and rap snow gully with most stations on south wall. At base hike north around tower and back down to Foster lake
Normal alpine rack. set of nuts, 5 pins and 5-10 cams.