Rhine Peak (ExCoelis Mountain) GR:452648

elevation: 2,530 m. height gain: 1,200 m.
area: David Thompson Highway,AB map 83 C/1

This peak is also called Kadoona Mountain, it is the highest of the ExCoelis 5-peak complex. We followed the Siffleur Falls Trail and ascended the drainage between Ardennes and Rhine, 432643; this creekbed soon becomes narrow. Travel in the canyon is interesting and not too difficult but before it opens up, a small waterfall must be negotiated (crux in the canyon). It is possible to ascend on either sides of the waterfall and some pitons have been placed climber's left to assist. Beyond the canyon, follow the furthest drainage up to the Stan Waters-Rhine Col; the first drainage also can be used but a traverse to the col then ensues. From the col, we ascended the north-east facing gully to the summit ridge; note that this is a sustained class 4 scramble (about 100 meters) with serious exposure. Once on the ridge, the summit is in sight to the north-west. It's necessary to dip down slightly on the west side before gaining the true summit, a final crux segment precedes the top.
two gullies to the col

As seen from Ardennes Peak, two gullies lead to the Stan Waters-Rhine Col; the one on the left is better.

furthest gully is better

From Normandy Peak it's easier to see the steep sidehill that follows the first gully, hence why the gully on the left (furthest) is better.
Scramble: RT 14.0; 5.25 up. When Fabrice and I ventured onto the summit of Stan Waters Peak, we noticed a sustained gully that appeared to lead to the summit ridge of Rhine Peak; that east facing gully was snow-filled at the time and seemed steep but feasible. Some research on the internet didn't reveal much information on Rhine other than a trip report from Rick Collier on Bivouac (of course) and a failed attempt from Eric Coulthard trying his route. The route Rick describes is on the western aspect of the mountain and it's unclear exactly where he went on the complex west face (especially when you don't have access to the whole trip report) but he mentions intricate route finding being necessary. When we decided to give this objective a try, we were curious to investigate the east facing gully we had seen from Stan Waters; we were already familiar with the approach to the Stan Waters-Rhine Col. We invited Charles on this exploratory outing. The hike in was quick and the trekking in the canyon was as interesting as I remembered. When we got to the little waterfall (crux of the canyon), Charles went climber's left while Fab and I climbed the right hand side. Beyond there, the drainage widens, we continued up the draw towards the col. By now the mist had lifted revealing blue sky and a sea of valley cloud, it was quite beautiful. We reached the col in good time and had a decent break before heading towards our gully. From the col, the gully looks daunting; I was hoping that once my nose was against it, it wouldn't appear so intimidating. It's fair to say it looked more difficult than anticipated... Once at its base, we discussed the best line of ascent for the part we could see. I went second but soon reached a point where I felt uncomfortable, the exposure was difficult to ignore. I went back down. I stared up and wondered why it was I couldn't ascend; it didn't seem to be that out of my skill set... After talking with the guys and staring at the gully for a while, I decided to leave my pack behind and give it another go. I knew we had a rope and that was a deciding factor for me; I was aware that even if I climbed the long class 4 gully, chances are I wouldn't have the headspace to downclimb it. Anyway, climbing the gully was the most difficult scrambling I've ever done and required all my wits, confidence and "credits" for exposure. I was borderline "freaked out" and didn't look down at all. Once on the summit ridge with the top in sight, I felt no relief; I didn't want to go back down that way, even with the rope... Now that I was there though, I picked up my spirit and continued to the top that also required negotiating a crux. Reaching the top was quite the feat. I suggested we look for Rick Colliers' route on the western side, I would come back tomorrow for my pack... Fab and Charles knew I was nervous and agreed to have a look for a different descent route. We started down the western face but got cliffed out. We explored different avenues off to the side of the drainage but nothing seemed to lend itself to a possible way down to the Elbe-Rhine Col. With more discussion we came to the conclusion we had to go back up and descend the gully we had ascended. I felt ill at the thought of that but I had to trust that my partners could secure my descent and their own. When we reached the top of the summit ridge, we were greeted with dark clouds and thunder to the east; are you kiddin', we didn't need that kinda haste... Fab rigged an anchor on a flake and built a harness with the one end of the rope and down I went. I sat out on a safer spot until the guys downclimbed to me. We repeated that operation 5 times with the 30-meter rope, Charles even opted for a belay several times. As if all of this wasn't enough, a 5-pound rock came barreling down and hit me just above the knee; by the time the guys reached me, swelling had set in and I could barely bend my leg. I was lucky the rock wasn't bigger and that it avoided my knee. Once we were down from the gully, we had another break just to relax before the rest of the descent. I took some pain meds and waited for them to take effect. The plod back wasn't too bad, I managed well. I did feel like I pushed too hard compromising safety, I had mixed emotions about the success of this ascent. Anyway, can't change what is done but I can warn that this gully is not to be taken lightly!
rhine's eastern gully

The enticing view of Rhine's eastern gully from Stan Waters Peak.

bridge over siffleur river

The second bridge over the Siffleur River on our way to the Siffleur Falls Trail.

ardennes, rhine and elbe

Looking at Ardennes (left), Rhine (center) and Elbe Peaks.

siffleur falls trail

Sightseeing on the popular trail.

dry creekbed

Off the trail and along the creekbed.

the drainage narrows

The drainage narrows.

interesting hiking

Interesting hiking through the canyon.

crux waterfall

Charles waits atop the crux waterfall.

climbing the waterfall

Fabrice coming up from climber's right of the waterfall.

beyond the crux

Beyond the crux, the canyon opens up.

hiking in the mist

Hiking in the mist.

going up the closest gully

Climbing up the closest gully; fun until we have to sidehill higher up! We came down the furthest gully.

out of the valley cloud

Out of the valley cloud.

sidehilling to the col

Sidehilling to the col.

looking at ardennes peak

Looking at Ardennes Peak.

at the col

At the col with our access gully in view.

a closer look

A closer look doesn't reveal the true nature of the beast yet.

the exposure is hard to ignore

From the start of the ascent, the exposure is hard to ignore.

what am I getting into

Bloody hell, what am I getting into?... no more pics of the climb as we're too busy focusing on the task...

on the summit ridge

On the summit ridge with the summit ahead (center).

dipping down

Dipping down a little on the western aspect.

gaining the saddle on my left

A final crux precedes the top after gaining the saddle on my left.

at the top

At the top, well son of a bitch!!!

abraham lake

Abraham Lake beyond Ardennes and Normandy Peaks.

unsuccessful alternate descent

Unsuccessfully scoping out an alternate descent with Elbe Peak (left) and the North Saskatchewan River below.

coming down the sadlle

Charles comes down the saddle after negotiating the summit crux (unseen).

lowered down

Charles being lowered down.

they wait for me

The boys waiting to make sure I make it down safely after sustaining a leg injury due to rockfall and taking Oxycodone.

coping well

Coping well, can't feel my injury anymore...

weather moves in

Weather is moving in as we near the canyon.

waterfall ahead

The waterfall is just ahead.

looking down the waterfall

Looking down the crux, we've elected to rap down.

delicate operation

This is still a delicate operation on the slick rock.

better late than never

Better late than never...
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