Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Route - The Undertow (V, WI6, 600m+)


The Undertow (V, WI6, 600m+)

Had a fantastic ice climbing adventure up on Tangle Ridge near the Columbia Icefields earlier this week with Steve Holeczi & Mike Verway. The result was a new route which we named The Undertow. We approached the day before by climbing Shades of Beauty and then a long walk through the snow to a nice camping area below the cliffs.

Steve rekindling his love for walking through a Rockies snowpack!
Up at 4:00am we quickly ate some food & chocolate covered espresso beans then made our way up to the first pitch for dawn. The route started with numerous steep WI4 & WI5 pitches on mostly excellent ice. The eighth pitch proved to be the WI6 crux and had some amazing climbing up a vertical groove into some overhaning mushrooms, and then sustained steepness to the top. A few more WI4 pitches led to the dormant seracs at the top which we climbed around the right side of. Half an hour of glacier ice led to the summit with jaw-dropping views of the Columbia Icefields. Much rappelling returned us to the ground.
We were all psyched about this fantastic climb and agreed that it was the longest continuous piece of ice we had ever climbed. Probably about twice as much real climbing as Polar Circus, significantly harder, and no big snow slopes on route! Anyways, here's the pictures!
Mike leading away low on the route.
Steve topping out on yet another great pitch of WI4.
And another one..
Mike leading a steep WI5+ pitch, the crux pitch is visible above.
Steve on the last pitch of waterfall ice, I think this was pitch 11 or 12.

Mike leading around the dormant seracs. A few more ropelengths of low angle alpine ice led to the summit.
Soaking up the views & the sunshine on the summit! L to R: Mt. Alberta, Wolley & Diadem are the three big peaks on the left. Photo: Steve Holeczi.
J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide

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