Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Coire Dubh, Ice Skills Week, & Louise Falls

It's been a few weeks since I've posted anything on the blog. It's not because I haven't been ice climbing, but rather that I've been ice climbing so much I haven't had time for the computer! Conditions continue to be great on the ice, and I'm psyched that there are still 6 or 7 weeks of good ice climbing to be had!

Shortly after my last post, Shawn P. joined me again for another fun adventure. This time we chose the classic mixed climb Coire Dubh Integral for our day. With an early start we reached the start just after dawn, and Shawn did an awesome job of leading up through the ice climbing portion of the route. Soon we reached the rock, which was snowier than last time I was there, and began the many pitches of challenging drytooling. As usual, the first rock pitch was one of the cruxes, although a chimney section as well as a cornice on the final pitch provided lots of challenge as well. The weather was great on the climb, but once we reached the ridge the wind was so strong that we could barely open our eyes! So, instead of the usual descent down the ridge, we stumbled straight down the backside into the valley below. This turned out to be almost as fast, and is a really cool valley with some sculpted canyons and easy travel.

Shawn leading on Coire Dubh.

Climbing one of the rock pitches on Coire Dubh.

A couple days later I was joined by Andrew & Mary for the Ice Skills Week. They had both done some climbing before, so we were able to practice tons of skills including leading & multipitch climbing. It was a super fun week and I think they were both ready for a rest day after 5 full days on the ice! On day 1 we headed to Haffner Creek for some laps on the steep pillars, a bit of mixed climbing, and a review of various ice climbing skills.

Mary top-roping at Haffner Creek.

On Tuesday we headed up to the Wedge Smear and concentrated on lead climbing skills. They both got a couple of good leads in, and we also top-roped some thin-ice routes on the right side.

Andrew at the Wedge Smear.

The next day we started putting it all together with some multipitching on Rogan's Gully near Banff. Mary & Andrew swapped leads the whole way, and did an awesome job of leading, setting up anchors, and rope management. The last pitch was the crux with some sun-rotted ice. The descent down through the rocks on the right was good practice too with scrambling with crampons on and one short rappel.

Andrew leading the first pitch of Rogan's Gully.

Mary looking solid as she leads on Rogan's Gully.

The next day we decided to head to King Creek for some more skills practice and leading. We climbed pretty much every piece of ice in there during the day.

Mary on the left-hand route in King Creek.

For our final day, we went up Evan's Thomas Creek and climbed Moonlight (WI4, 100m) which had a couple of steep sections up high and overall excellent climbing. Afterwards we did a lap up Chantilly Falls with Andrew & Mary once again swapping leads. Unfortunately I forgot my camera.

Overall it was a really fun week and I hope Andrew & Mary have long & enjoyable ice climbing careers!

A couple days later, Dan & Tezla from Calgary joined me for an ascent of Louise Falls. We left Canmore early since it's a popular route, and were happy to be the first ones there. By the time we were on the last pitch there were 7 people climbing below us, some of whom made the stupid & dangerous decision to climb directly in the line of our ice fall. This is something that is NEVER OK while ice climbing, and is one of the leading causes of accidents. Fortunately, we were able to climb carefully and nobody got hurt. The climb itself was great, and we took the steepest line possible by climbing the right-hand pillar on the crux section which involved squeezing out a small hole onto steep WI5 ice, super fun!

My backside squeezing through the hole onto the crux pillar with Tezla belaying. Photo: Dan C.

Me starting up the 2nd pitch on Louise Falls.

Since then I've climbed the Central Pillar on the Weeping Wall and Kemosabe in the Waiparious, more on those ascents soon!

J. Mills

No comments:

Post a Comment