Mountain Hardwear Athlete Tim Emmett Makes First Ascent of Helmcken Falls
Richmond, CA (February 16, 2012) – Mountain Hardwear UK-based athlete Tim Emmett, along with Klemen Premrl of Slovenia, successfully made a first ascent of the mixed rock and ice climb Spray On…Top at Helmcken Falls in British Columbia, Canada, on Feb. 6, 2012.
"There was immense time pressure and sustained difficulties but we somehow managed to get through it, " said Emmett. "For me it is by far the most outrageous climb of my life. Super psyched!"
After 15 days of preparation including hauling ropes, using a metal detector to find previously placed bolts, placing new bolts and scouting for a route, Emmett and Premrl successfully reached the top of the Helmcken Falls cave on an eight-pitch route named Spray On…Top. Helmcken Falls is an unusual challenge because the falls never freeze over, so the ascent has to be made via the icicle-covered cave wall. The climb ranges from 200-230 meters, depending upon snow and ice conditions that can affect the first two pitches.
Emmett recounted the achievement: "We started in the morning and climbed to the top of the ice in two pitches. We then continued along the ‘Space Invaders’ traverse on rock to the first small cave. The next pitch went up to the largest icicle in the main cave and climbed this for several feet before belaying at another small cave/ledge. The ‘lip trip’ pitch is the wildest climbing I have ever been on, a diagonal traverse across the outrageously steep wall heading up to the lip of the main cave. Klem split the long pitch to the lip with a mid belay on two bolts. We gained the lip in six pitches and then continued the last two pitches to the top by head torch. Klem climbed the whole route with no falls, I had a rest on the sixth pitch while seconding it. I led the first three pitches and Klem the next four, I finished by leading the last one. When we got to the top I was jumping up and down like a school kid, shouting into the night sky. We did it!! "
Premrl remarked, "I’m quite sure that anybody who will do that climb will be surprised by the magnificent surrounding, exposure and scale."
Emmett visited Helmcken Falls with Canadian Will Gadd the past two winters during which the two of them pioneered the first pitches of Spray On. Gadd was with Emmett and Premrl in January but left for other commitments before the team topped out.
Mountain Hardwear’s Steven Yui and Travis Gaylord, Outerwear Senior Designer and Outerwear Product Coordinator, respectively, accompanied Emmett to Helmcken Falls. The two used the experience to consult with Tim about specific products and features needed for the unique type of environment and climbs such as Spray On…Top.
"Words can’t really describe how massive the falls are, or the difficulty of Tim’s climb. It was insane – at one point during part of Tim’s climb the overhang was so severe that he was literally climbing parallel to the ground while clinging to spray ice from the falls," said Gaylord. "Witnessing this type of climbing, and the skill and maneuvers involved, is critical to the development of future Mountain Hardwear products."
Lupinski, Hanson and Welch started their new positions Monday, Oct. 31, 2011. Stoner-Andrews, Inc., Kevin Brew Sales and Pemba Serves, Inc., will be supporting the transition with the in-house team and customers through Dec. 1, 2011.
For the story in Emmett’s words and more photos visit: http://on.fb.me/HelmckenFalls