Full Moon Corner and The Lower Flanks of Storm Mountain

Today out my window in downtown Canmore I watched it snow, and then rain, and then snow again, as if the seasons are colliding in the ring, throwing quick jabs back and forth, even though we all know who will inevitably be proclaimed victor in the next round. The fall mixed and ice climbing season is off to a slow start, with thinner conditions than in the last couple years. Thankfully there is no shortage of scrappy, traditional mixed routes to be had, if that’s your cup of tea.

The view from the chockstone cave at the base of Full Moon Corner, which was a primo spot for beer and sausage before starting up the route. Photo: Justin Guarino

Last week Alik, Justin and I ventured out to Arnica Lake on the lower flanks of Storm Mountain (or some unnamed sub peak of Storm) to check out the Full Moon Corner, which turned out to be quite a sick day (not to be confused with “Sick, Day”, a neighboring route). We may have nabbed the ‘second recorded ascent’, or ‘second ascent’, or just ‘an ascent’, had we topped out the route, which we did not, rappelling after the top of the difficulties. Justin was visiting from New Hampshire, and we therefore felt obliged to show him our immaculate stone, and firmly bonded ice, which he quite enjoyed, I may add!

Alik on Pitch 3 of Full Moon Corner (see route description below). The short curtain wasn’t really “in” but was bypassed with gear and hooks on the left. Photo: Ethan Berman

Having now climbed Eye of the Storm and Full Moon Corner, I clearly have the authority to say that the alpine climbing on lower Storm Mountain is quite good, and deserving of more attention in the fall (by the fall I mean the beginning of winter in the Rockies). The approaches are no longer than a quick romp up to Protection Valley, the rock is quartzite, and the routes have a fair amount of real climbing, which keeps the haters honest. Full disclosure: I did not lead the crux pitches on either route (should have gone rock and not scissors) and therefore am not responsible for any comments I make about the seriousness of the pitches (?), quality of the pro (pretty good), or difficultly of the cruxes (both routes get M6). Other routes that should also get more attention in the area are Extended Mix, and The French Connection, both approached as for Eye of the Storm and located directly above Upper Twin Lake. These routes seem to look, climb, and approach better before it is too snowy, so I recommend checking them out early (and letting us all know how the conditions are!).

Since I couldn’t find a route description for Full Moon Corner before our outing (there is a post lost in the Facebook machine), I thought I’d spray the beta, in hopes that some lost soul will find it and also go out for a sick day. Although the climbing on Full Moon Corner was quite good, I think the overall experience of Eye of the Storm was better, mostly because it was twice as long and had more sustained pitches. It is also a longer approach and therefore much bigger outing. Full Moon Corner still rocks and big props to these guys for their route!

Full moon Corner (M6 WI4 R 400m) on 2695m Unnamed peak.
– FA Noboru Bob Kikuchi/Toshiyuki Yamada. Nov 5, 2017
(all subsequent information is from Noboru and Toshiyuki)
Red line is Full moon corner and obvious gully left of ours is Unnamed direct. Photo: Toshiyuki Yamada
I and Noboru made a new line at 2695m Unnamed peak above Arnica lake. We saw one fixed anchor(small nut and piton) which looked very old, near the top of the route but it seemed to be used for rappeling so we believe we are the first people to climb this line. We named our line Full moon corner since the full moon really helped us climb in the dark.
Approach:
Same as “Unnamed Direct” by Ian Welsted and Simon Richardson at the start. Our trace diverges from theirs near the base of the wall. From the wall, traverse to right to next obvious corner system. We set gear up inside the big cave.
Route description:
P1 – 50m, M5. Start from the left side of the cave right facing corner. 20m delicate mix climbing on the slabby wall. Traverse to right when you get to the overhang,exit corner system. Keep going to snow slope to the base of next band. Belay by rock gears.
P2 – 60m, Easy snow slope to the base of ice smear. Belay at the right side of the wall by rock gears because this ice is quite thin.
P3 – 40m, M5 WI4R. Follow the ice smear to thin small ice pillar(stubbies useful).Once you reach the small upper pillar,go behind the pillar to take protection by rock gears and then come back to front from the opposite side of the pillar. Take protections there and mix climb a few meters(M5) until ice is getting fat enough. Belay at top of pillar.
P4 – 50m, 5.5,WI3.Climb easy ice until overhanging wall. Traverse narrow rock band toward the right(5.5) to base of chimney.
P5 – 15m M6. Straight up chimney system.It is steep but good for placing tools. Belay at the right side wall just before thin ice smear.
P6 – 35m, M5R. Crux of the routes. Climb patchy thin ice with rock gears. Ice screw is not useful at all. Delicate climbing lead you to upper shallow groove until snow slope.
P7-9 150m, Keep climbing snow slope to the corniced summit ridge.
Descent:
Rappel and down climb the same route.