Monday, December 16, 2013

Another great summer in the Rockies!

Despite a raging flood in the spring (which unfortunately did severe damage to my house and many of my neighbours in Exshaw), the summer was otherwise one of mostly excellent weather!  I was once again joined by many of my regular guests as well as some new faces for many great adventures around the Rockies.   Since I was so busy fixing my house I didn't keep my blog up to date throughout the season, but here are some of the better pictures I got during the numerous ascents and courses.  Enjoy!

Mt. Athabasca, with the Slawinski/Takeda route (M5) climbing the thin snow gully into the rock buttress in the middle of the photo.

Mark Taylor leading a mixed pitch on the Slawinski/Takeda route.

An early season ascent of Mt. Abraham's Shoulder Route (III, 5.8) with Pat & Suzie.

With Pat & Suzie on the summit!
 
Jon walking the narrow ridge on an ascent of Mt. Lady Mac's SSE Ridge (II, 5.5)

Enjoying the beautiful Grassi Lakes during an Intro Rock Weekend Course.

A fun day with a group of Junior High Students learning to rock climb at Wasootch.  Kids love this stuff!

High on the NE Face of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore.

Getting cooked in 30C heat a few days after the flood on the multipitch Kahl Crack route.

Chris on Yamnuska's notorious CMC Wall route (5.11b R), the hardest rock route I have guided so far.

A 5.10 traverse pitch on CMC Wall.

During an ascent of Pigeon Spire in the Bugaboos with three ambitious ladies and fellow guide Sarah Heuniken.
The same crew on top of Rundlehorn route near Banff.

Climbing the Perren Route on the way to Mt. Perren with a descendant of "The Spider of Zermatt", Walter Perren, himself.
On the summit of Mt. Perren.

A few pitches up the classic Geriatric on EEOR near Canmore. 

High on Mt. Temple's normal route with a family from the UK.  Pretty rad family holiday!

Enjoying the excellent rock on Cory's Groove with Chris & Mark.

Camping out on Mt. Edith Cavell's East Ridge Route with the upper part of the climb looming above.  What a campsite!

Now it's ice climbing season, see ya on the ice!

J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide
www.cdnalpine.com

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

March Ice Climbing Adventures!

The last month has been action packed & full of great ice climbing with lots of fun guests!  Starting with an Ice Skills Week then moving into a bunch of custom trips, it was great to get out with so many enthusiastic climbers!  Here's some photo's from some of the climbs!

Malignant Mushroom (WI5) in the Ghost with Trent & Chris 

 Shawn P. in Johnston Canyon on the Ice Skills Week

Scott doing some mixed climbing on the Ice Skills Week.
  
And some leading the next day!

 Tyler D. leading on Nothing But The Breast (WI4+) near Nordegg on a rainy day.  The next day we climbed Whiteman Falls (WI5) & Redman Soars (M5+) but my camera wasn't working (perhaps due to getting rained on the day before!). 



 Looking up at Good Luck & Bad Dreams (WI4), another Nordegg classic.

 Climbing at Rehab Wall way up Evan Thomas Creek.

Looking up at the last pitch on Professor Falls (WI4).

 Kevin R. rappelling down after we climbed the Central Pillar on the Weeping Wall in very difficult conditions.

 And Kevin leading the next day on Guinness Gully.

 Shawn P. nearing the top of Whiteman Falls (WI5).

 Rick S. doing his first ice lead in King Creek!

 Laura top-roping in Haffner Creek on the Intro Ice Course.

 Shawn part way up Redman Soars (M5+)

 And a day off from the ice to go skiing.  Not as fun, but gets you to some rad places like the Rockwall in Kootenay National Park.

 Climbing in King Creek with Kyle & Landon, three days before Landon's wedding in Banff!

With them again the next day in Haffner.  We also climbed Guinness Gully but I didn't get any pics.  

J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide
www.cdnalpine.com


Friday, March 8, 2013

Whiteman Falls (W6) & Redman Soars (M5+) with Chris

Whiteman's & Redman's are two of the best climbs in the Kananaskis area, and I always enjoy heading into climb them.  Chris joined me for the day and was keen to get on some steep ice & mixed terrain!

The day starts with an hour long ski down a closed road, and we were treated to a beautiful sunrise along the way.  After the ski, we entered the canyon where a couple short bits of ice and some skirting around waterholes brought us to the routes. 

Skiing down the road at dawn.

We started with Whiteman Falls, and found it to be in excellent shape with good plastic ice and easy climbing for the grade.  The first pitch had some very cool climbing on ice mushrooms, and the second pitch was more sustained steep ice.  We were up and down the climb in no time, so we turned our attention to the harder Redman Soars (5.10 mixed or M5+). 

Rappelling back down Whiteman Falls.

Redmans is a sweet mixed route with about 55m of sustained drytooling & thin ice climbing.  The crux sections involve torquing the picks in thin cracks and hooking some small edges.  Chris hadn't climbed much of this type of terrain before, but didn't seem to have any trouble getting up it. 

Chris climbing through the slot on the 2nd pitch of Redmans.

After slogging back down the road we arrived at the car tired but psyched with the day!

J. Mills

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Professor Falls & Water Hole with Jarrid

Shortly after returning from a climbing trip to Patagonia, I met up with Jarrid from Edmonton for a couple of days on the ice.  We had nice mild temperatures & plastic ice, always a treat when ice climbing! 

Jarrid approaching a very wet pitch on Professor's.
 
On the first day we climbed on our bicycles and pedaled into Professor Falls near Banff.  Despite the great weather we were surprised to be alone on the climb all day.  The first couple pitches offered some steep but hooked out climbing on great ice.  A number of easier pitches brought us to the final crux pillar.  It was in great WI4 shape and we were soon shaking hands on top.  I usually rappel the route, but since many of the anchors are buried under ice this year we decided to do the walk off instead.  Back at the bikes we completed the sketchier part of the day by pedaling back down the icy trail to the car. 

Jarrid leading a short section on Professors

The next day Jarrid had to drive back to Edmonton so we chose a shorter objective and headed up to the Water Hole.  The second pitch had melted out quite a bit since I was last there in December, but we managed to hook our way up the section of manky ice to thicker ice above.  We then climbed a 5.4 pitch to reach the mixed climb above.  The mixed pitch (M4ish) isn't too pumpy but has some very thin & balancy moves which make it rather challenging. 

Rappelling over the thin section on The Water Hole.

Jay Mills
CRAG Head Guide
www.cdnalpine.com





Sunday, February 3, 2013

Guinness, Bourgeau L. & Coire Dubh with Kenji!

To finish off 2012, I was joined by Kenji from Japan for a few days of classic ice climbing!  He had climbed lots of ice in Japan, so we were able to do some great routes.  He was very impressed with the quality of the climbing the Canadian Rockies and by the end of the trip was even talking about trying to move here!

We started out by climbing Guinness Gully & Guinness Stout which was a great way to get know each other and climb some fun ice!  Kenji had no problems with the climbing so I knew we would want to find something harder for the next day.

Kenji approaching Guinness Stout

Up early, we hiked in to Bourgeau Left Hand by headlamp and were soon launching up the first 70 meter pitch of sustained WI4.  The ice was in great shape and was really enjoyable.  The upper tier of ice is the WI5 crux and was soaking wet on the normal line.  Fortunately it is wide enough this year that there was a good dry line on the left which we climbed in two pitches.  The final pitch starts off with several body lengths of very steep ice and we both got a good pump as we picked our way up it.  We had only planned on doing the two days of climbing, but Kenji was keen for more so we decided to do another climb a couple days later. 

 Looking up at the steep upper pitches of Bourgeau Left.


Kenji nearing the top of the second pitch on Bourgeau Left Hand.

For our final route we chose the excellent mixed route of Coire Dubh Integral just East of Canmore.  The lower ice section is relatively easy, but the climb has about 8 excellent pitches of mixed climbing up nice rock features.  Kenji had never done a mixed climb before, but by this point I wasn't at all surprised that he was able to pick it up quickly and cruise up pitch after pitch of climbing!  As usual it was really windy on the top so we hiked down the backside into the canyons of Jura Creek instead of walking down the ridge.


 Coming up through the challenging chimney on the 1st mixed pitch.

 Cruising up a nice corner higher on the route.


Kenji & I on top of the route, trying not to get blown over by the wind!

I had a great few days with Kenji and hope to be able to climb with him again in the future.  Perhaps he will even find a way to move to the Rockies someday!

J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide
www.cdnalpine.com

Ice Climbing at King Creek


After a nice Christmas break in Manitoba, I was back in the Rockies for a day of climbing with a group of guys who work together & who's company flew them down from Houston, TX for some ice climbing & team building.  It was organized by Shawn P (Shawn's Blog) whom I have climbed with a bunch of times over the last few years.  The others had never ice climbed, and for one of them it was his first introduction to Canada!  Everyone was really enthusiastic and we were soon taking turns on all the ice climbs at King Creek.  We even finished the day by top roping a challenging mixed route that has formed in a corner this year and is a really hard climb for your first day of ice climbing! 

It was fun day of climbing & I hope they have been inspired to try some more in the future!

J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide
www.cdnalpine.com

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ice Skills Clinic

After a great Ice Skills Week, I was joined by another great group of guys for a 2 days Ice Skills Clinic.  Again I had met all three of them before so knew it would be a fun weekend with Mark, Chris, & Steven!

Saturday we headed into Haffner Creek and as usual got pumped silly on the steep ice & mixed routes.  It was a good chance for everyone to work on both movement techniques, and leading skills like placing screws and building anchors. 
 
 Steven leading on The Water Hole.

The next day we went to The Water Hole and a couple of fun pitches above.  Since two of the guys had already done some leading in the past, they were able to lead us up the first two pitches of climbing and did a great job.  Above we climbed the same thin ice pitch that I had done earlier in the week, but instead of scrambling around to the side we set up a toprope on a short but steep mixed corner which ended up being really cool climbing.  So far this season The Water Hole has provided a lot of variety for a roadside route! 

Chris taking his turn leading on The Water Hole.

 On Monday, Chris stayed for a day of multi pitch climbing so we drove out to Field to check out some steep ice.  Pilsner Pillar looked to be in great shape so we decided to give it a go.  The climb was really sweet and involved some steep climbing on variable ice with lots of stemming onto the rock.  Chris had never been on a WI6 before but didn't seem to have any problems and was able to follow me up it in no time!  Since it was still early in the day, we headed across to Carlesbourg Column for some more climbing.  The first two easier pitches went smoothly, but the main upper part of the route was mostly pouring with water.  I made it part way up the edge of the ice but after 15 meters with no useful screws decided to call it a day.  Despite not making it up Carlesbourg we still managed to get lots of good climbing into the day and were psyched! 

Pilsner Pillar in great shape!

J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide
www.cdnalpine.com