Having pretty well climbed out the Sky Pilot area, we've lately been hitting up some of the more obscure summits. Nick gets the credit for noticing these. I don't know how to make the thumbnails in text clickable but the ones at the bottom will click to full size...
A few months ago, Nick noticed the North Ridge of the West Nai so we headed up the Gondola to check it out. We approached from the Sky Pilot Valley trail, detouring up towards Gunsight Gap and into the Ledge North Basin. The NR is fairly prominent and we took snow slopes up to the base. Some scrambling and then Nick took the rope and led up very crumbly rock and then through some near vertical seeming bush. Here we got on better rock and went over/around some towers before a final headwall that Nick led over before low angle terrain to the summit. We descended the couloir between the W Nai and Ledgeling to get back into the ledge basin.
Approaching from the Ledge Basin.
North Ridge of West Nai is left-hand skyline.
Nick leading up the headwall pitch on the North Ridge.
Top of West Nai looking back on Habrich.
Last year, when we climbed the Window Route on Ledge, we noticed the fairly striking Tombstone Tower on the approach in the gullies near Gunsight Gap. On Sunday, Paul and I headed out to give it a try. We scrambled over the West Ridge of Sky Pilot and then down the South Ridge to get into the basin below the South Face. There is lots of scree here. Then we went up the couloir that gives access to the Window route between Ledgeling and Ledge (more scree). It had been a while since I read the Fairley description of the tower so I had forgotten which side we were supposed to climb. In the notch, standing on a giant chockstone, Paul decided that the North Route looked pretty climbable so launched up that without hesitation. We were expecting 5.6 so felt a bit sandbagged (which was confirmed when we looked again at the route description). The rock is quite loose and the existing cracks are fairly clogged with dirt and lichen. A single lead took us to the top and we replaced some very old rap tat with new stuff. A ~50m rap took us well down into the gully below. We finished the day by heading up to Gunsight Gap (from the south, snow-free side) and up the E Face of Sky Pilot to the summit before heading back down the normal route to the Gondola. About 8hrs round trip at a leisurely pace (no running).
Scrambling down the S Ridge of Sky Pilot with Ledge et al. in the back.
Tombstone Tower from the approach gully. Not as striking from this side. You can see the chockstone at the top left of the gully. The ledge to access the South Ridge runs across the face from there.
One pitch of loose climbing on the North Side.
Gnarly summit tat. Good block to rap off though.
Fun climbing up the last bit of the North Ridge of Sky Pilot to get back to the normal route.
In hindsight, we wished we had checked out the South Ridge. From the chockstone in the notch, you crawl along a ramp to get to the south side of the tower. Here the FA's apparently used a combination of aid climbing and a shoulder stand to overcome a small roof, before enjoying easy-ish terrain to the summit. Would have been fun to give that a try...
Also - Gunsight Gap from the North side is out. Big moats and nasty looking. South side is totally dry. The stadium glacier is starting to show some bare ice. The col is actually passable if you crawl into and out of the moat to get on the snow. Better now is to detour to the climbers right side of the glacier and scurry up the scree.