On June 7, we attempted Plutonian Shores, a lovely 7 pitch 5.9 multi pitch climb near Raven's Crag, overlooking the town of Banff. The day started beautifully. Blue skies and warm temps, we made sure we had plenty of water.
The approach walk starts at the Cave and Basin in Banff. It's a national historic site that would be good to visit on a rest day. Check it out here https://parks.canada.ca/lhn-nhs/ab/caveandbasin
On this day though, we walked past the gift shop, the park warden's cabin and all the buidlings and headed down a paved path. After about half a kilometer, we turned left onto a wide dirt trail and then shortly up this path, we turned left again, up a more narrow trail at a cairn. This is the route to Raven's Crag and Plutonian Shores.
I have wanted to do this climb for years so I was very excited we were actually going up to do it. The FATMAP app shows the trail quite accurately and I followed it in eager anticipation of the climb to come. All the reviews on line said it was a very nice climb on great rock with comfortable, scenic belay stations.
Here at the start of the climb, we unpack and get ready for climbing. We will bring our shoes and everything up with us because we plan to walk off the top.
Looking up at the first pitch. It is supposed to be easy 5.5 slab. I led it and I felt a bit awkward. The slab here was a lot smoother than the slab on Cascade Mountain where we did Wheat Kings and Minihappa / Battle of Seven Oaks. The rock was diffierent and it took me a while to learn it.
Here Dan is coming up the first pitch.
After this the climb went pretty smooth. Dan did a great job leading Pitch 2 which was very long. I led a super short pitch 3 then Dan took the lead again for Pitch 4.
I really found my groove on Pitch 5, a long 5.8 pitch. I moved smoothly and steadily up and I felt really great when I clipped the anchor at the top.
Then it was Dan's lead for the 5.9 crux pitch, number six. He tackled it with skill and ease, pulling up some tricky and committing moves. He climbed over a ledge and disappeared out of sight.
Next thing I heard was a yell from Dan as he came flying back down over the ledge. He landed below the last two bolts he had clipped and dangled on the rope, curled up and not moving. It took him a few minutes to let me know that his ankle was badly hurt.
We decided at that point to lower Dan to me and then rappel the route.
After five rappels, we were safely on the ground. Dan wrapped his ankle using supplies from his first aid kit. He hoped the compression would make it bearable to hike out. It did not.
Dan soon realized his ankle would not bear any weight at all. It was too far out and too sketchy to hop back to the truck. We were forced to call Search and Rescue.
They were happy to help us out. A helicopter flew overhead 45 minutes later as they scouted out the best place to pick up Dan. They then came back and dropped off Brian, very friendly and helpful. Brian asked Dan if he could move about 100 meters down the trail to a spot where the helicopter could drop a long line to pick him up.
He agreed to try. About 20 excrutiating minutes later, Dan was in place. It was decided that I should walk back down the trail to the truck. I jogged down as Dan was lifted into the air.
Later that evening at the Canmore Hospital, x-rays showed that Dan's ankle was not broken. The doctor said no climbing for two weeks. It's going to be a long two weeks!