Number one on Katherine's tick list for the last while has been The Finger on Napishu Ridge. Last time we tried, it snowed and we bailed from the trail head. This time, we bailed because Katherine had decided to run 90km the previous weekend and had a raging infection going on in her blister riddled foot so we decided that a long approach and a committing climb was probably not what a medical professional would advise her to do.
So Chelsea, Katherine and I found ourselves casting about for a Plan B. We were looking for easy multi-pitch with a horribly blistered foot compatible approach. We bounced a few ideas around and then Katherine came up with a crazy, crazy idea.
What super mellow climb have I failed to successfully get up in five previous attempts because I seemingly only try to climb in during snow storms or when it's pouring rain? That's right - Plutonian Shores. 5.9, 6 pitches of climbing, super well bolted, and this time, the weather was perfect. Maybe, just maybe that was the answer to finally climbing Plutonian Shores - to try climbing it in not awful weather? Crazy...
Anyway, we hauled out to Cave and Basin in Banff, got out of the car and then immediately got back into the car and drove back into town to pick up some bug spray (which I normally hate) because the mosquitoes were absolutely brutal.
Once back at Cave and Basin, we headed down the trail. If you go, make sure to pay attention to the wildlife closures so access to the crag doesn't get cut off. A few hundred meters down the trail, a smaller branch breaks left which you follow and then take the next trail to the left after that as well. You then climb steeply up towards Raven Crag for a couple of kilometers. Once the trail plateaus, you reach a fork, the left branch (noticing a trend) goes down to Raven Crag and if you continue steeply down, you'll reach the bottom of Plutonian Shores (look for bolts on low angle slab). The other fork on the plateau is the descent trail from the top of the route coming down from above.
As we puled up at the bottom of the route, we discovered that somewhat unsurprisingly, we weren't alone - another party was just finishing up the first pitch. Luckily, it turned it was a group of friends of ours - Sera, Susan and Felipe. Felipe was getting some lead practice in on the lower pitches and had two monster rope guns with him for the crux.
The result is that we would have been the worst nightmare of any other party that tried to follow us up since we ended up basically climbing as a giant six person gong show.
I have to be honest, the route is way, way easier when it's not hailing or pouring rain or covered in snow. In fact, it's actually just a super fun, cruisey route. Being a more mellow, relaxed objective and having run into a party of friends, it really just became a giant social hour on a rock face. I would lead up a pitch and meet up with Susan and Sera and we'd chat while Felipe led the pitch above and Kathrine and Chelsea climbed the pitch below.
When the weather started to threaten to do the classic Rockies 'afternoon Thunderstorm', Katherine, who's a way faster leader took over on my rope team and Sera took over on the other to quickly close out the route.
Thanks to Katherine and Chelsea (and Felipe and Sera and Susan) I finally got to the top of Plutonian Shores - and all it took was making an attempt when the weather wasn't incredibly stupid.
At the top, we re-racked our gear, ate some calories and started the hike out and for the very first time I got to appreciate how gorgeous the walk-off is. It's actually probably a worthy scramble all on it's own as it's got some of the best views I've seen in the Bow Valley.
With Plutonian Shores out of the way, I guess I'll have to turn my attention to my next demons- Soft Moth (bailed twice from the car park) and Hoka Hey (got attacked by a grouse and then the route tried to fall down on us). I'm sure they won't be gong shows...
Grumpy, cantankerous, wildly opinionated and so much more! Getting really tired on skis is what makes me happy.