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Comment: Viennese Peak South Face
Timestamp Free: 2018.10.16 - 17:09:53
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Coast Mountains / Pacific Ranges / Chehalis Group / Clarke Group
  (null days)
A short discussion of route descriptions in Fairley's guide......and a second opinion of the South face route on Viennese.
I like Fairley's guidebook. It is both classic and an acquired taste, like coastal approaches. To steal a line, it is modest with much to be modest about. It upholds a tradition of humility and understatement and thus allows for one of the greatest rewards in alpine climbing: the sense of adventure. Fairley's guide still connects with an age when words were chosen carefully, and any mention meant a significant detail - in stark contrast to our current hyperverbose "extreme everything" society. Fairley makes you read between the lines, much like one must discern while routefinding. With time and careful observation, patterns emerge and intuitive choices arise.

Any difficulty rating system is arbitrary. All we can ask for, then, is that one's system be consistent in its arbitrariness. Which brings us to the South face of Viennese peak.

In keeping with other grades in his guide, I found the South face to be solid 5.7 when I climbed it in mid July this year. One quickly learns that most of the classic climbs are solid for their grade. I think this is probably because the classic lines are usually put up by accomplished climbers who have a firm grasp on what a fair grade might be. Since Fairley mentions the South face in the introduction to the Chehalis section, one might expect it to be honest 5.7, which it is. 5.9 is an overgrade.

Five full pitches (on 50m ropes) saw us to a pleasant ledge where "several possible variations" exist (read: "route quality rapidly deteriorates"). The route description given is bang on, and I would only suggest that the words "compact granite" or "a few thin pegs might be useful" appear somewhere.

We too chose to finish via the East ridge, and as the description suggests, it is a worthwhile route. Some of my favourite alpine...

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