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Sails for Seniors on Mt. Murchison.
Grade & Length: IV, WI6, M6+, 125m
Approach: The climb faces the highway and is just visible from the road in a narrow gully on the headwall up and left of Balfour Wall. It always looks unformed from the road and often isn’t there at all.
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Sails for Seniors as viewed from the Highway.
About 5 minutes North of Waterfowl Lakes Campground, park at a fairly large pullout on the right side of the road that is usually plowed. There is most often a well beaten trail from here to Balfour Wall (a popular & moderate single pitch area). Follow the trail to Balfour Wall then continue way up and left until reaching the gully. About 1.5 hours from the car.
Route Description: An excellent route that doesn’t always form. It was first climbed by Mike Adolph & J. Mills in March 2010 and recieved a few more ascents shortly afterwards.
At the start of the gully, climb 25m of rotten WI3 and then walk up snow for 15 minutes to the slender pillars on the left-hand wall.
On the first ascent, the first 30m section of steep pillars was completely detached from the rock so the rock on it’s left was climbed instead. This involved lots of drytooling moves, a few splatterings of ice, and a few fist jams in a crack near the top. 70 meter ropes just reached a safe belay spot below the upper pillars. The pitch was about M6+ and had good gear. Subsequent ascents found better ice and were able to climb this pitch without having to use the rock very much.
The next pitch either climbs the the pillars directly, or tunnels into a chimney behind them with splatterings of ice on both walls. After 15 meters in the steep chimney, climb through a tunnel in the ice and emerge on the upper part of the pillars. Another 20 meters of steep chandeliered ice leads to the top.
Gear: Screws and a full rock rack to #3 Camelot including a few pins.
Objective Hazards: Lots of avalanche terrain. Rockfall was encountered on the second ascent.