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NE buttress of the W. Lion - an ascent in July 1998
Timestamp Free: 2021.01.25 - 23:07:37
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Coast Mountains / Pacific Ranges / Britannia Range
Participants: Drew Brayshaw
Difficulty: 5: Supposedly 5.3
Solo cruise up the NE buttress of the West Lion
The northeast buttress of the West lion is one of those hoary old 'classic' climbs everyone looks at and few people do. This is understandable because it is bushy, loose in places, and generally, except for its history, not all that classic. However, as one of the earliest technical climbs in the Vancouver area, this route is recommended for anyone who wants to get a feeling for the climbing ability of the Coast Mountain pioneers.
The route was first climbed by Basil Darling in the 1910's, in a bold solo ascent, and the climb was then forgotten by one and all. When the Culbert crew made the second ascent in the 1960's, they thought they were on a new line; it took the historical skills of Bruce Fairley to ferret out the true history of the line.
Having once vowed to never climb the West Lion by the tourist route, and consequently having never climbed it despite being a North Shore native with 15 years of hiking experience on the local hills, I figured it was time to pick this one off in the summer of '98. A solo of the NE buttress sounded like a good way to pay homage to the early climbers (plus, partners were in short supply). So I read through some old VOC journals for beta, talked to a few people, and set off.
Hitchhiking to Lions Bay on a July weekend, I trucked up the trail to the knoll where one crosses treeline, passing the usual hundred or so other hikers, dogs, etc. From the knoll I cut across the boulder field to the obvious notch in the NW ridge, and downclimbed on the other side to a snowfield below the N. face, which I then crossed to the toe of the NE buttress. Here I stopped for a bit of a psych-up. The line loooked pretty impressive from this vantage and I was a little bit worried at first. Some sugar intake put me straight. It is funny how low...
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