Fun-Phobias on Nophobia

The overview by Tim Banfield

The overview of Nophobia by Will Mayo

me at first hanging belay with cool 2nd pitch roof crack above, Crista-Lee photo

Yippieeee! i am so ecstatic to have completed this project of Nophobia. Why!?

I am the owner of many many unfinished projects! I blame this on the nature of being a mountain guide, but also my personality of loving new shiny opportunities. Also, it was a great challenge for me physically, logistically and a little mentally as, despite being a ‘sport’ climb, its very intimidating and the loose rock makes it feel more alpine in nature.

I want to include some other phobias that we all can relate to in this blog, I found this great online list to fuel my creativity.

Since my blog posts are few and far between (blogphobia), I want to start this blog by updating my future-self and my friends and family on the past few months.

I just completed my first semester of Broadcasting at MRU. I loved being a student (Ergophobia – fear of work). I love scheduling classes, and workouts, guiding and trips to Jasper: back to back craziness! I am relieved to have pulled it off, and grateful for the reprieve from my ambitious-self!

I placed in the top ten (9th) at the first american World Cup Ice Climbing competition in Bozeman, Montana recently. In the short video clip below, I made an error shortly after this clip and fell off unexpectedly which cost me competing in finals. Here is a move I did well in semi-finals.

I would love to have the time to write up a whole blog post on how great it was to have a World Cup in Montana, but this radio piece will have to suffice!

I got a lot of support with this piece on summarizing the Bozeman World Cup Ice Climbing event for Banff… You can listen to it here.

So the story of Nophobia started a couple years ago…

Any climber who has climbed Hydrophobia or Cryophobia has had their interest peaked by the Nophobia cave. Its a very big feature at the head of that small but incredibly cool valley. I hiked up into the cave on one of my trips into this valley and ooh-ed and awed at the potential. Its a daunting prospect to say the least, as the rock is pretty loose and the cave fairly deep and steep (Climacophobia – fear of climbing).

I really enjoyed finally climbing Cryophobia (fear of ice) after many missed attempts ranging from getting lost on the approach to a partner forgetting crampons. A previous blog post on that adventure here.


Hydrophobia left and Cryophobia right, taken Dec.2014 from Nophobias


Crista-Lee photo, notice the lack of ice on the last pitch.

For several years I only approached the ‘phobias’ valley from the north ghost (sorcerer) approach which is generally easier on the truck but quite intense route finding and bushwacking on foot.

More recently I have been approaching via the Waiperous valley, but still walking/skiing up to three hours each way when snow conditions or an unfrozen bog deters driving closer.

This season, the first attempt into the Waiperous included six people, two trucks, and three hours of getting a truck out of the Waiperous river. (Cleithrophobia- fear of getting stuck)

Getting Stuck:

Beautiful sunrises in the Waiperous

Beautiful sunrises in the Waiperous


Before the sun rises we get both front tires into the river!

So we spent the morning figuring out how to use both a come-a-long (thanks to Crista-Lee) and my truck and ice chipping to get unstuck:

by trial and error!

Crista-Lee and I still managed to get in and accomplish my goal of getting on the second pitch despite basiophobia (fear of falling). Last year I did the whole route with no falls except in one place on the 2nd pitch and i needed to figure out my beta which is best done on lead. Seconding the 2nd pitch is a pain in the arse if you’re not sending because it is so overhanging and traversing. If you fall off — it most likely requires some type of rope ascension to get back on.


Dear Dentist don’t look! just before dropping my tool!

On the day that Raph and I got up the route, I need to confess that I was manipulative. I failed to explicitly mention to Raph that the last pitch might not be climbable due to a lack of ice (see photo above). I did make mention of it after we had driven in a few hours and it would be easier for him to climb with me then walk out!

Also Raph in his goal-oriented ways said he would only climb Nophobia with me if he got to lead the two hardest and most traversing pitches 2&4. For me, I would also really like to lead these pitches, but I know that if I can second them cleanly, I can lead them. Although, I welcome the next opportunity to climb this route again and lead these pitches.

When Crista-Lee and I climbed a couple days before, I was grateful for sending the first pitch again, butI felt uncomfortable on it and i was over-gripping. I was grateful that when Raph and I were climbing that I had gotten my jitters out (Agoraphobia – fear of leaving a safe place) of the way so my energy could be better re-directed towards sending!


First pitch jitters! Crista-Lee figuring it out.

I really dislike the first pitch belay location and I often wonder why its not just a few meters higher at a no-hands rest. It really crunches on my back to haul and belay from this hanging stance under the roof. None the less – its a cool position and I am grateful for all the work of the first ascentionists.

If you want to ‘work the second pitch’. You can have your belayer stay on the ground and pull the rope so its not through the draws on the first pitch. I never got a chance to do this, but i would if I needed to. There was a fixed rope there this year hanging from the first anchor — perhaps someone who is working it jugs up the rope instead of climbing the first pitch?

So after Raphael sent the second pitch I worked hard not to feel the pressure of ‘sending’. “The joy is in the journey”, ‘just one move at a time’ were my Mantras. I find the second pitch much harder than Raph finds it. He is a stronger climber, lighter and longer. For whatever reason, I struggle a bit with getting my tool in the way of my feet or visa versa! There are really cool roof pockets that you can put your feet in or heel hook ledges. Its super cool that you can do this roof crack without figure fours.


Me really enjoying the second pitch last year. Before the horizontal roof.


Raph sending the second pitch. Tilt your head to the right to see the correct angle!


Raph seconding first pitch. See the ledges littered with choss.


start of second pitch

pitch 3:

no idea what i am going on about!


third pitch


fourth pitch- no ice on the horizon


Fourth Pitch- enduro fun


2013 attempt, Raph on fourth pitch

When we arrived at the base of the fifth pitch, I knew Raph would want to try. I was so psyched to of had a no falls day so far– i was satisfied, but of course it doesn’t count if you don’t do the last pitch. I was grateful Raph wanted to keep going, but I had low expectations. I knew he was the best climber for the job. I felt exhausted from my hectic life and he would be faster and braver. I also had Nyctophobia – fear of dark! so off he went. It was slow going, as it has to be when running it out, but eventually screams of joy were heard far above. I was so excited and relieved. My manipulative behaviour was rewarded and we got to finish the route!

As I seconded this pitch, I saw the creative ice threads that Raph used to mentally coax himself upward. The rock is so good up there, I recommend taking some nuts, pins and small cams in the future. A stubby ice screw would of been appreciated as well.

last pitch: i am being a bit of a goof!


on Rappel from top of second pitch. photo by Crista-Lee.

I recommend Nophobia to those who love adventure, dry-tooling, and a beautiful environment. If you can tolerate hanging belays and get a warm weather spell (psychrophobia- fear of cold) – its worth the effort. The first ascentionists put tape on some of the holds and this is falling off. Someone else has recently cleaned and put blue chalk on the first two pitches. There is also some red chalk on key holds. All this ticking really helps in the onsite and of course, is nice for red-pointing too if you have any kind of alzheimers (Gerascophobia – fear of getting old) or have to go more than a couple days before your next attempt.

The first ascentionists generously left the whole route equipped with quickdraws and belay seats. Currently, there is no belay seat at the first anchor, but there is a broken one at the base of the route that needs two holes drilled into it.

This is also a great place for winter camping if you don’t like the 4×4 commute!


from the Canadian Alpine Journal


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