Monday, February 13, 2012

Courses, Crag's, and Kick-ass Ice Climbs!

Over the last few weeks I have been out climbing nearly everyday with alot of great people.

Initially, avalanche hazard was fairly high, so I spent a few days single pitch climbing and trying to improve my mixed climbing at places like Haffner Creek. Sometimes I felt like I was going to tear my arms off, but otherwise it was fun!

A couple weeks ago, I was joined by a really fun group of 4 people for an Intermediate Ice Course. We started out with a day at Haffner Creek working on steep ice climbing skills, as well as practicing placing screws, building anchors, and some mixed climbing.

Jon doing some mixed climbing during the Intermediate Ice Course.

The next day we decided to focus more on lead climbing skills, so we headed up to the Wedge Smear in Kananaskis. The steeper sections are quite thin up there this year and provided some fun and challenging top-roping. On the fatter ice, two of the guys managed to complete their first ice leads!

Matt leading at the Wedge Smear.

The next weekend, I began an 8 day stretch of guiding with an Ice Skills Clinic. I had previously climbed with all three participants, and it was great to get out with them again. Of note, Kevin from Winnipeg was one of my first guests after starting CRAG but had been out for a couple of years with an injury. It was good to see him back climbing and as stoked as ever! We spent Saturday at Haffner climbing the steepest ice lines and a bit of mixed climbing. Sunday we went into Johnston's canyon for some lead climbing & multipitch practice, as well as a pumpy lap on the WI5 pillar.

The steep ice at Johnston's Canyon, the WI5 pillar we climbed is the one on the right.

The next day, Tyler from the course joined me for a trip out to the beer climbs in Field, BC. We planned on starting with Guinness Gully, but since there was another party we headed over to Carlesbourg Column (WI5) instead. We swapped leads up the lower pitches, then enjoyed awesome climbing on the steep upper section of the route. After descending, we had lots of energy left, so went and did a high speed lap up Guinness Gully.

Tyler leading on one of the lower pitches of Carlesbourg Column.

The next day, Travis (also from the Ice Skills Clinic) and I climbed the stellar mini-alpine route Coire Dubh Integral. Conditions on the rock were warm and dry so after the initial ice pitches, we ditched the tools and crampons and rock climbed to the top. All the pitches offered fun, and in spots challenging, climbing. We were treated to great views on the descent down the ridge. It was Travis's first time on a route like this but he did awesome and we made very good time up and down.

Travis approaching the rock and sunshine on Coire Dubh.

One of the many rock pitches on Coire Dubh.

Next, I drove out to Rampart Creek hostel to meet Brad, who I have previously climbed lots of mountains with including the Furher Ridge on Mt. Robson a couple summers ago. He hadn't climbed in a while and was keen to get back on the ice! We started out with the routes SAR's on Ice and 570 along the David Thompson Highway. The weather couldn't have been nicer and we enjoyed great temperatures and views during the climb. On the descent, we passed a small rock climbing area which I developed years ago, and it was just warm enough to bust out a couple laps on the rock. Pretty nice for February!

Brad rock climbing at Whirlpool Point.

The next day we got up early and headed to the lower pitches of Polar Circus. The ice was is great shape and we had lots of fun on the first 5 pitches of the route. We descended early in the day before the sunshine made things too hazardous.

Brad on pitch 3 of Polar Circus.

Looking up at Polar Circus.

Finally, on Saturday I ran a trip out at King Creek for a group of 10 from Calgary. Most of them had never climbed before but they were very enthusiastic once we got going! Another local guide, Kris Irwin, helped me out for the day. After 10 or so laps each it was time to head out, but I think a few of them might be hooked and will get out climbing again!

The group at King Creek.

I have a few days off before my next guiding, you get 1 guess what I plan on doing with my spare time...

J. Mills
CRAG Head Guide

No comments:

Post a Comment