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Uto Peak - Southwest ridge.
Timestamp Free: 2019.05.21 - 20:32:24
Ranges: North America Ranges / Columbia Mountains / Selkirk Mountains / Duncan Ranges / Sir Donald Range
  (1 days)     Elevation Gain: 1800m
Participants: Philip Akins PD 5.1
Solo climb up the Southwest ridge, down the Northwest ridge.
Finding myself in Roger's Pass without a climbing partner for Mt. Sir Donald (at the top of my wish list this summer), I climbed up the SW ridge of Uto and down the NW. For a 5.7-8 alpine climber (and, perhaps, more to the point, a dad and husband) this was right near the limit of my comfort zone as a solo climb. I brought climbing shoes 'just in case' and ended up using them for the entire climb! A very nice route on good rock, though plenty of loose stuff to pay attention to. It's been a smoky month or so in the Rockies and across the province, but I had a relatively nice day, and stunning views. I had Uto all to myself, and saw just a couple parties on Sir Donald. Pretty sure I also saw a wolverine at first light in the boulder field on the hike up.

A couple things about the descent down the NW ridge. First, getting off the summit is not to be taken lightly. The ridge is graded Class 3 in David Jones' guide*, but the very top section is not like any Class 3 I've ever climbed (or, in this case, down climbed); more like stiff Class 4, if not low 5th. Steep and loose. It is possible to rappel (maybe 20m), and there is a bunch of nylon and rap rings in good condition up there right now. Having come up the SE ridge without a rope I didn't have this option, but I would certainly have taken it if I could. As it was, I took this section very carefully. Secondly, I completely botched the lower part of the ridge by getting off route. Here's what not to do: perhaps two thirds of the way down the ridge is a notch that forces you off the ridge into a gully on the west (skiers left). With my mind presumably on lunch at the bottom already I went helter skelter down the gully for about 150 vertical metres before realizing I wasn't going to get off the mountain that way. If I was...

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