For the most part ice climbing is a sport filled with a degree of suffering. Every now and then though, the angels sing and the love of the universe is poured upon an occasional blessed day. Such was our incredible experience on an obscure, STEEP, and amazing route in the Icefields Parkway.
Ziggy Stardust; rumored to been first climbed by Serge Angelluchi in the 90’s, it saw a FRA for sure in a 2012 online article…
…as well as : this year Andrew and partner did it and posted an enticing and mysterious photo on the Rockies Group page. As soon as I saw the route, I leaped into planning an immediate trip up there with Kai, to climb it!
The trouble was, it was our first outing for this early ice season. Needing familiarity, we did a warm up (R+D 4+) after finishing the long drive up. Day 2 weather forced us into a crag day as 4-6 inches fell that day. Tasting fear had some fun options though and kept us patient.
day 3, ZIGGY STARDUST!! Our morning came with optimal conditions had on a withering route that had lost much of its lower ice due to sun effect. I could barely contain my excitement at the base, longing to get started and finally relax in the climbing movement. From the start on, there was never an easy section, and the sections varied so much as to seem like a 10 pitch affair! The 4 distinct sections alone on the 1st pitch are so fun to figure out and daintily solve as if doing a puzzle. Chimney to mantle, to scary traverse, to m5+ overhang to ice sticks, and finish with deep drum/thin detached ice! Thin pins, small cams for belay.
The second pitch was a serious, scary, detached, and thin ice affair. (Look for some rock gear too). Great care was taken to spread out my weight and never be too involved with any 1 pick placement or foot. Belay on left at a fixed stopper belay/rap, back it up with med cams.
The reward for that sketch was a fat, yet techy and enduro 3rd pitch! Don’t clobber your belayer too bad. Easily one of the best climbs in the Rockies. What a ride, and what a day on this hidden away, early season gem.
We finished this assault trip with a warm down on the classic Guinness Gully and drove back the same day! Thanks so much to Kai, Jenn, Rory, Quinn, Andrew, and the entire support network we have in the amazing sport we are lucky to be able to do!
Canada 11-19 10p
11-9 R+D WI4+ w Kai, picked out
11-10 Tasting fear wi5 3laps+
11-11-19 Ziggy Stardust, Mt Murchison IV-WI5 (expect thin/R)-M5, w/Kai
1-13 Guiness Gully WI4 3p w/Kai good shape, wet
Obviously the route varies in condition, and it is neat to see the different forms it has taken (see photos), We caught it a little thin for sure, so be. careful with it. We took 2 KBs, 1-Specter, 6 small cams, 1 each med cams to blue, 10 screws, 3 of them: stubbies.
Some photos courtesy of Rory, Andrew, Kai, and others, Thanks
click to enlarge