Sunday, February 1, 2009

5 days of Alpine & Ice with Dmitri

Dmitri came out from Toronto for 5 days of alpine climbing and ice climbing last week. Never having climbed with him before I didn't know what all we would end up doing but it turned out that his high levels of energy and fitness allowed us to pack tons of climbing into the week.

Day 1 - Mt. Edith East Face Couloir II 5.5 mixed

Dmitri halfway up the face on one of the mixed pitches.

Starting in the dark with -32C temperatures, we made the hike back to Mt. Edith. Just as we reached the start of the technical climbing, the sun hit us and temperatures soared making for great climbing conditions. Lots of steep snow and 6 or 7 mixed pitches took us to the top where we were treated with great views in all directions. The descent went smoothly but was long and tiring. I figured we would want an easy day the next day but...

Day 2 - Polar Circus (V, WI5, 700m)

Another early start saw us at the base of the legendary Polar Circus. Pitch after pitch after pitch of awesome climbing led us up the lower pitches, past the Pencil, across the snow ledges, and up the Ribbon. The day was getting late so we opted to not do the last 70m tier. Many rappels later we arrived back at the car happy but exhausted.

Traversing below the unformed "Pencil" pitch halfway up Polar Circus.

Dmitri reaching the belay above the Ribbon Pitch.

Day 3 - Learning to Lead At King Creek

Dmitri cruising up his first lead at King Creek.

For the first time on his trip, Dmitri got to see Canmore in the daylight! He was keen to try some lead climbing so we headed out to Kananaskis Country and hiked into King Creek. After some practice with placing screws on top-rope, he cruised through 2 leads with no problems. To round out the day we found the hardest thin-ice and mixed lines we could and did some toproping.

Day 4 - Multipitch Leading and Mixed Climbing at Evans Thomas Creek

Dmitri coming up 2 Low 4 Zero, above the mixed crux.

Back out to K-Country and up Evans Thomas Creek. Dmitri wanted to take his lead skills onto a multipitch so he led us up Chantilly Falls, again with no problems. Afterwards we hiked up to the other climbs. There were already parties on Moonlight & Snowline so we decided to go for the mixed and thin-ice line of 2Low4Zero. It was in hard shape with climbing up to 5.7X and WI4 and we had an excellent time on this unique climb.

Day 5 - Winter Ascent of Yamnuska

Dmitri halfway up Grillmairs Chimneys
For our last day we decided to head up to Yamnuska for a rare winter ascent of Grillmairs Chimneys. Although it was a windy day, we were fairly protected on the route and managed to stay warm. The climbing was challenging in big boots and gloves but the rock was dry. It was an excellent day and one of the highlights of the week!
After a celebratory beer, we parted our ways, but hopefully will see each other again soon for some more climbing!
J. Mills
CRAG Owner/Head Guide

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