New Line on Mt. Robson’s Prized Emperor Face

Ethan Berman on one of the crux pitches. Photo: Ethan Berman/Uisdean Hawthorn

American climber Ethan Berman has teamed up with Uisdean Hawthorn of Scotland to put up a new route on Mount Robson in Canada. At 3,954m, Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, and its imposing northwest flank is home to the Emperor Face — a prized line for elite alpinists.

The international pair climbed the 2,000m route in 19 hours, stopping for a bivouac once they had completed 14 pitches and stepped off the face onto the main ridge. They then fought off some wild weather during a 12-hour trudge to the summit, before another night out under the stars.

In recent years, Berman and Hawthorn have tackled other new and hard alpine routes. Hawthorn, for example, made the third ascent of the House-Anderson route on Mt. Alberta (3,619m), also in the Canadian Rockies, and also put up a new line on the East Face of Mt. Jezebel, in Alaska’s Revelation Mountains. Berman has put in new routes in Alberta and Bolivia.

The new route, viewed from Berg Lake, at the foot of Mount Robson. Photo: Ethan Berman/Uisdean Hawthorn

The Emperor Face was first climbed in the late 1970s by Jamie Logan and Mugs Stump, an early mentor to Conrad Anker. Since then, only a handful of elite alpinists have added routes on this formidable glaciated face, including locals Dave Cheesmond and Tony Dick in 1981 and Barry Blanchard and friends in 2002. The late Marc-Andre Leclerc nailed the first solo of the Face in 2016.

About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash Routen is an outdoor and adventure writer from the UK specialising in adventurous travel and expeditions, such as mountaineering, polar travel, and ocean crossings. Ash juggles a day job as a public health scientist with this second career in outdoor writing.

His words have featured in national newspapers, national and international outdoor and adventure magazines, and various websites. Bylines include Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Outside Magazine, Rock and Ice, and Red Bull.

Alongside writing, Ash also spends some time undertaking his own adventures, and completed a 640 km foot crossing of a frozen Lake Baikal in 2018. His next arctic journey is a 700 km trek along the coast of Baffin Island in Canada.


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