Cheesmond/Dick Mt Robson’s Emperor Face
My obsession with the Emperor Face is sort of at it’s peak, having just returned from a walk about to see it for the first time (with the hopes of climbing a route with Jon Jugenheimer). I am consumed with reading as much as possible and studying photos. Sidelined from much greater range action lately, I am amazed by the scale, angle, overall aesthetic and commitment for a wall that is a day’s hike from the car. (And there are many others like it in the Rockies!)
As far as I know the Cheesemond/Dick (climbed in August 1981, with 3 bivies)has never been repeated, and I am willing to bet a new belay parka from RAB (don’t tell them), never will it be repeated in the same style as the first ascent.
Cheesmond and Dick started their week long adventure by going up to the Ralph Forster Hut (not as simple as it may seem) and then made an ascent of the Wishbone Arete on the south face to the summit of Robson 3954m, returning the hut where they re-grouped and racked, then traversed the entire yellow band past the Emperor Ridge to the Face.
This kind of week long tour du force is unthinkable these days, as fast and light alpinism is the vogue. Helicopter to the Helmet (4 minutes?) on the north face and then down climb a bit to avoid the ugly lower portion of the face, sure, I get it; but to connect to wilderness in such a big way, no. To immerse yourself so deep into such a visceral connection to how small an alpinist can be; two men, a rope and some down, aluminum and steel and more desire than can be shouldered today is mind blowing, once you see the wall first hand you cannot wish anything other than to climb it. I have not climbed the face and would be willing to by any means, I just wish I had the muster of Cheesmond and Dick.
Has a more impressive connection to wilderness and nature ever been made in alpinism? Is this not the ideal we should all strive for? How much do I have to train (he says re-reading House & Johnston’ book) to meet my ideal of what it means to walk around and over these giants. Do I actually have the mettle to think about such audacious plans – the Giri Giri boys sure do and they finished off routes I attempted (like the south face of Logan with Tackle and Smith). Dare to dream, or refocus and train.