West of Banks: Champagne, Sundance Kid

p1190229Doug and I packed up the full array of ice gear and headed out in his plush truck camper for a overnight jaunt to the lesser known realms just west of Banks Lake. Neither of us had climbed out there, and man what a great outing we had! We drove past Champagne to find it was the most sheltered and sunny, therefore best option in the frigid temps. To stick with the pattern though, we found Joe and Jason already enjoying the steepness of its 2 great pitches. We did the 2 pitch route in the afternoon shade after them.

The next day we went into stunning Moses Coulee ( reminds me of Cody), and proceeded to get very humbled gazing at the very formidable Butch Cassidy. It reminded me of a longer version of Zenith, another legendary sandbag.. We drove past it and other scare fests to do the Sundance Kid. Doug took the lead under virgin conditions, excavating his way up through the overhangs. Banks is such an amazing yet stiff area to climb. It matters dramatically whether or not the ice conditions are good, bad ,and/or untrammeled. Be careful out there in this banner season, stoke is high yet there have been a good number of accidents. Pay attention to the grades and realize Banks is a bit sandbagged at times when conditions are less than optimal.

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