Jacob Cook moved to Canada last year and has been busy packing in as much climbing as possible ever since. He recently established a new route on the East face of Mount Slesse in the Coast Mountain range alongside Canadian Tony McLane, named Welcome to the Wack (5.11+/E6 6a).
The wall is one of the obvious alpine big wall challenges of Canada's Coast Mountain range. It was first aid climbed over multiple days by Sean Easton and Dave Edgar in 1997. The first repeat of the 1000m East face has long been on the minds of local climbers and was attempted a few times in recent years.
Jacob told UKC:
'Tony McLane became interested in the wall in summer 2016 when he climbed a new route, The Indirect East Face, by traversing in from the left halfway up the wall and then going to the top at 5.10+. With the top half sussed, he needed to find a way to reach it up the blanker, more compact lower half of the wall.'
Jacob moved to Squamish last winter and was keen to join Tony on the adventure. Tony made three trips in summer 2017, the first with Will Stanhope and the second two with Jacob. Jacob told UKC:
'The first time we went up big wall style and spent two days on the lower half of the face. We added five lead bolts, all drilled on lead from sometimes sketchy stances. After a lot of dead ends and shenanigans we found a way that we thought would go through the lower half of the wall. We rapped to the ground and started plotting our return.'
The pair returned on September 5th and started climbing at first light, this time opting to go lighter on the gear: a double rack of cams, half ropes and light daypacks. Both Jacob and Tony climbed the wall free in 11 hours, with no falls, swinging leads the entire way and simul-climbing a lot of the more moderate upper half.
'The route is definitely a serious undertaking, with lots of runouts and loose sections where a fall would be unthinkable. There was a tense moment when Tony was seconding a pitch in the middle of the wall and pulled off a bunch of microwave-sized blocks. I shouted down "Are you OK?" and got back "I didn't fall!!" Tony was still hanging on with one hand and had managed to dodge the rocks, amazing!'
Aside from trying Welcome to the Wack, Jacob paired up with US climber and Dawn Wall first ascensionist, Kevin Jorgeson this summer to attempt the Tom Egan Memorial Route; the 1978 aid line in the Bugaboos freed by Will Stanhope and Matt Segal at 5.14 in 2015. Writing on his Facebook page, Jacob explained: 'Well, the Tom Egan Memorial Route is a very difficult rock climb. We tried hard and didn't even get that close, two weeks is not long enough! It was a treat climbing with Kevin Jorgeson, I learned a lot from his analytical, even scientific, approach to hard granite free climbing.'