Lungs burning after an hour long sprint to the base of the route, we barely beat the party of 3 racing us. First place in this contest gets a shot at a rarely formed ice route named Virtual Reality, a 3 pitch exposed and classic climb. Welcome to the cutthroat world of competitive ice climbing. Made fiercely so by tantalising photos on facebook and instagram, there are thousands of people that want to sink their tools as quickly as possible. Doug and I being no exception, we got up at 4 am our time. I had driven to Portland for Thanksgiving then pushed on up to Canada just for a shot at it with him on Saturday. I would not recommend starting your season on a WI6, but I have never seen this route form in my many years. It was in such great shape too. The exposure was spectacular, yet the nature of the way it formed left it in easier shape than the grade suggests.
It is such a shame that our sport is getting so crowded and competitive. Issues like this though can be managed by getting up earlier (or going late?)and training to be fast and efficient for the many demands of the sport. Maybe go for the more obscure routes too? —>
Up next we stayed in clever mode by doing an under-the-radar route called Elliot Left Hand Gully, a route near the competitive classic route Kitty Hawk. Elliots 3 pitches were fantastic, easy, but had scary top-outs on early season thin-ice-shells over flowing water. This is an obvious concern that is visible in a noted photo below (Thin ice on Elliot Left!) We didn’t get down before the rains soaked us completely and sent us driving back to the states. Good and clever luck to you this season, lets see more amazing photos, and hope for another great season!
Aaaaand…should go without saying too: If you are not the first to the base of the route, please give the upper party exclusive access to the climb when appropriate, thanks