Canada Ice 2-18

So the Canadian Rockies are having one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Steve suggested that we bring down our grade chasing ambitions a whole grade. Fair enough, as it is near impossible to keep the feeling in your fingers while climbing. Every morning started out below O fahrenheit.

With our lungs hurting from a recent bout with THAT flu, I met Jenn up there, and we were lucky enough to get Steve’s place early! (Thanks Steve!!)  We took his advice and got late starts on easier ground for the first couple of days. As it gradually got “warmer”, we headed for sunny, tougher projects that we did indeed enjoy. We also reveled in the company of Lane for the last 2 routes.

It was also a pleasure to take it a bit “easy” and have a vacation type trip, complete with bubble baths, and great food(Thanks, Paul, Kat, Steve, Ann, Lane, Jeff, and Stephanie!!)

Now back to 60 hour work weeks for next few months…: (

 

Lillooet ’18

 

 

I am continually amazed at the great lengths I am willing to go in order to ice and mixed climb! With the multi billion dollar project/job cruising along at 55-60 hours/week, Doug and I (still)drove up to Lillooet after work Friday evening in rain and Seattle traffic, and picked off 2 classic routes on Saturday and Sunday. Then, back in time for another long Monday push at work. Damn I am tired, but happy to still have some capacity similar to when I was younger!

The 1st edition cover photo for West Coast Guide shows a pretty pitch named Capricorn. I had always wanted to do it, but was put off by the long approach. It was worth the slog however, though we messed up the approach. It is easy to accidentally start to far lookers right of the true approach. The main pitch/crux was steep at the top and wouldn’t have been that tough were it not for chandeliered conditions.

The main reason for going to all the trouble of driving hour after hour was to take a shot at a very new mixed route that seemed to be my type of climb. The rating for Bitcoin Billionaire intimidated  after getting humbled in the Canadian Rockies by similarly rated mixed climbs, but the route has a more alpine feel, and the rating shouldn’t scare off many aspirants. The highlights are the scritchey first pitch, 2 mixed chimneys with fun moves, and a satisfying wi4 finish. The setting is great, views and solitude lend a remote feel. It worked out to simo a few of the steps in the middle, and combine pitches. We placed a dozen rock pieces, and stretched the ropes out in 5 pitches. Nice day out to be striving for adventure! Thanks to Doug, Jenn, Caroline, and the BB FA team for putting out the good times!

Lillooet British Columbia Canada. is a small blue-collar town that was at one time popular with ice climbers, and may soon be again thanks to internet stoke. I used to go there often in my younger days, and I hope to more in the future!

Scroll past crappy pictures for account of the first ascent!

 

Danny O’Farrell‎ to West Coast Ice

January 9 at 9:46am · 

After working on the Bridge River for the last 3 years and over spending over 100 plus days working on fisheries conservation and monitoring with the Xwisten First Nations, I’ve spent a lot of time day dreaming of establishing new lines in the Bridge River Valley, as it’s a very special place for me. Over the last few months, I’ve been watching a few lines form high on the walls above the river. After showing Steve and Hunter these lines, we decided to give one of the lines a go!

On Sunday, January 7, 2018; Steve Janes, Hunter Lee

and I, established a new and exciting mixed alpine style route up the Bridge River Valley called “Bitcoin Billionaire, M6, WI4, 325m”. The route was completed in 7 Pitches, approximately 43.5 km from the highway from Lillooet or 6.5 km below Terzaghi Dam. The route lies between the already established routes Salmon Stakes and A New Leash on Life” along the highway on the east side of the river. From the road you can only see the final pitch of beautiful fat blue grade 4 ice. Cross the river and gain approximately 250 of elevation to the base of the climb.

The route is a approximately 550-600m elevation of gain, from the base of the river to the top of the climb, the route itself is approximately 325m. Steve Janes says one of the best lines he’s ever climbed.

Bitcoin Billionaire M6, WI 4, 325m

Pitch 1 55m WI 4: Climb a small hanging pillar to thin ice for approxmently 25m WI4, the pitch than eases up to grade 2-3 and snow to a large ledge with tree belay.

Pitch 2: 55m M6: Climb grade 2-3 and snow 25m to gain the ledge. Traverse into an awkward and fun squeeze chimney with questionable pro, requiring making multiple crux moves involving lots of stemming, groveling, facing both directions, and knifeblades (M6, 25m). Traverse right 5m to and belay off large tree on lookers right.

Pitch 3: 65m WI 2/ M3 / Snow Ramp: Climb the long snow ramp 45m, then climb awkward 2-3/M3 for 10m, climb the remaining snowslope 10m to large tree on lookers left. Belay from tree. 70m ropes are required or belayer may have to simo climb to 10m or to small tree on lookers left to establish another belay station.

Pitch 4: 35m WI 2/Snow Ramp: Round corner from belay station on easy grade 2 and snow. Make one awkward move over rock and ice bulge to base of squeeze chimney. Belay is located on lookers right in small crack, gear to 0.5 or pins.

Pitch 5: 55m M6: Enter the chimney and get busy! Stem up on thin ice and rock to overhanging chalkstone roof M6 (Solid cam under roof, right side #2 Yellow BD). Then find stick in low quality snow and ice at the lip and grunt through the roof. Once through the roof and chalk stone enjoy fun stemming and better ice M5 to upper cirque and final tiers. Belay off good ice screws below upper cirque.

Pitch 6: 20m WI 2: Easy climbing on good ice to base of final 40m tier. Belay off good ice screws on lookers right in small alcove.

Pitch 7: 40m WI 4: Fun climbing on grade 4 on fat blue ice to top of climb. Belay off good ice.

Decent: Rappel route, using trees, v-treads and slinging ice pillars.

 

Canada Ice 17/18

Jenn, p2 Bourgeau left

Jenn and I spent our first New Years together since meeting almost a year ago. We flew up to Calgary, after a busy work and holiday season. We were greeted by storm and ridiculously cold temperatures. I had no problem taking a rest day right off on day one of the trip. I was exhausted from mega overtime and arriving at the motel at 2 am.

Hard to believe that after dozens of trips to ice climb in the Canadian Rockies, this was the first trip that I flew up there. There are advantages and disadvantages to both modes of travel, overall I am still sold on driving up. It just allows more flexibility. Some obvious advantage to flying however are great: Not having to deal with the driving weather as much, it is an hour and a half flight from Seattle(!), and there is no dread at the end of the trip about the long drive back. Flying sets a more vacationey feel, without having the extra gear to fiddle with. I think for the quickey trips, flying is the way to go.

Day 2: Though the mercury bottomed out at -37c, we went to try Cascade but didn’t like being up there so close to the new snow and first sun on it. We scurried off to Grotto for super cold laps, where everyone was making good use of their ropes to warm up the hands. lol.

There was pressure to do something big on our last day: day 3. After agonising over the avvy danger, we decided to try Bourgeau left, figuring it would be still too cold to warm up the overhead slopes?  On the lower runouts below this classic climb, we tried in earnest to release any of the lower slopes, but couldn’t. Well, up we went, enjoying sublime yet chandeliered conditions. Late on time, we raced to finish and retreat to the base just as we needed headlamps. Such a great climb, and what a great girlfriend I have!

 

Canada Ice 11-’17

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

Canada Ice and Mixed 3-17

Until I saw the photos on the Canada Facebook page, I was not planning a 3rd trip back to the Rockies. The locals had just installed several new routes on the 70m wall right of Twisted. The pictures showed wild, exposed climbing, and a mind blowing setting. Of course the exposure led Keenan, myself, and many others to scramble there to sample the newer climbs. I would describe the area as the light version of Stanley Headwall of fun! Not too hard, but feels like you are on something steep and difficult. I hope they can form every year. (note; now that I look at old pics of Twisted, I think they will regularly form!)

3-11-17 Nasty Habit 3p wi5-m7  WHAT A GREAT ROUTE!! p1 starts out fun mixed (m6, gear to 3″) to a bolt protected dagger move, fun lead to start the trip on. Nice easy alpine p2 with thin ice wi4. P3 is fun, scratchy hooks, getting gradually steeper, fun sticking the ice too. We then couldn’t do Blobs, because of 2 parties already on it.

3-12-17 Lower Weeping Wall, center 3p wi4/5. We wanted to do the upper pillar too, but 6 new inches of snow began sloughing off in the hot sun.

3-13-17 Curtain Call 2p wi5/6. Super fat fun in easy shape. long leads though as always.

3-14-17 Blob, Blob, Blob 3p wi3-m6+. Got our revenge on this amazing climb racing a local party that photographed us. Cant say enough about the 2 pitches….amazing, athletic, weird, and steep moves. Watch for large loose blocks. It wont take long to see that the routes are new, and still loose in places.

 

This great trip made me glad that I trained hard, keep an eye on route reports, and participate in the fantastic sport of technical winter climbing!

click to enlarge photos

 

 

Hyalite 2-’17

p2 of ZA

p2 of ZA

Even though it was warming up in the Northwest, I wasn’t ready to hang up my crampons. I asked 4 friends to go to Hyalite and one-by-one they all backed out! I then asked facebook and found Bill, a driven yet laid back climber that had yet to get on ice this season. Bill arranged a place to stay with friends there in Bozeman, and we were off for a long weekend of driving and ice climbing.

I wouldn’t suggest warming up on the Matrix, but all of my training and 60+ pitches of ice this season justified getting on a difficult and spooky lead. Bill led Feeding the Cat, and we got laps in on it too.

I was waffling on doing Zack Attack the next day, but Bill was persistent about trying it, so off we went, starting up G2 early in the morning the slogging up sometimes deep drifts got us to the base 1-2 hours later. We then started up the incredible 5 pitch climb with Bill leading the first pitch (m4) in style. I did a short mix pitch left to the piton belay station(m4), then Bill did the dry finish to the right of rotten, thin ice of p3(m4). It was then up to me to do the last 2 short ice steps to finish this long spectacular route. The last one was very steep at the top trying to wiggle through the overhanging finish! This is the best the route has come in the last 8 years! tr from Bryan

Since Mummy 3 and 4 were in epic fat shape too, I had to head there the next day for the chance of a lifetime conditions. (my last time on Mummy 2011) After I did Scepter in fat condition, Bill took the opportunity to lead Mummy 3 in all ice condition(wi3+).  It was up to me to lead Mummy 4. I chose the right side, it had delicate ice blobs to stem from the rock on the right, and bizarre ice on the left eventually forming a chimney with rock on the right and ice, left. At the top I had to go left to finish this wonderful lead. We were happy with our 12 pitch weekend, but are we ready to hang up the crampons yet? No way,

Some photos courtesy of Bill P.

Canada Ice 1-17

So I must REALLY like ice climbing because I went up by myself for 2 weeks with only 1 partner lined up for 4 of the days. Why else would I spend countless hours in sub-freezing temps, put up with cold toes, screaming barfie hands, slick roads, lonely evenings , and one good meal per day? There were many fun days no matter my complaining. One of those days in particular was one of the best days of my ice and mixed career too. Here is the break down of the fun I had with 10 different people!

1-15-17 Junkyards 4p to wi4 w Jack

1-16 Haffner 2p w14

1-17-17 Guinness attempt 2p to wi3 w/Jenn, Paul. small sluff sent us packing

1-18-17 Redman/Whiteman 4p to m6 wi6 w/ Jeremy R

1-19 -17 Johnson wi4 w/ Jeremy P

1–20-17 Wuthering/Green Angel 3p to wi4 w/ Steve, Jeremy

1-22-17 Big Dipper, Little Dipper 3p to wi4, w/Jeremy, trying to find Lacey G.

1-23-17 Hafner 5p to m6 wi4 w/ Mike, Rachel, Trystan -soon to be bad asses

1-24-17 Circus Circus wi4 3p w/Jim Elzinger. Rarely formed route with a legendary partner

1-25-17 Unicorn/Kitty attempt wi4 2p w/Nolan, broken pick

I have to say, the day with Jeremy R on Whiteman/Redman was especially awesome. I was happy to give the crux of Whiteman to Jeremy, and what a super job he did on that intimidating lead! We spent 14 hours that day in a beautiful area doing the 4 amazing pitches.

It was fun doing 2 days in the Ghost with Jeremy, and Steve too climbing 3 routes that I hadn’t done yet. Both days ended in a headlamp blur at the end of long distant approaches for great ice with no crowds. Of course after 50 pitches of ice and mixed so far this season, I hurt my knee(mildly) on flat ground , so now Index is on my mind for a few weeks from now. What an exceptional ice season, I hope this can be the normal type of winter once again.

Thanks to all of my wonderful partners, and especially Steve for setting me up with a room, and partners for most of the days.

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.

Shitting Razorblades, Banks Lake

..with a name like that…

The internet is a mixed blessing when ice season rolls around. It is tough to be tortured daily by photos of amazing routes, yet nice to know they are in and have been getting climbed. I had a 1 day window that James and I used driving to Banks Lake and had a wallop of a time climbing!

Razorblades is a 2-3 pitch route that rarely see its first pitch form, and P1 has seen very few ascents. P1(aka, Eating Razorblades) was in chandeliered and drippy shape. It had a back off sling that attested to that. It took a while to get up the steep, thin and rotten ice, but this was my shot, and I made the most of it all the way to the top. I found it to be difficult and awkward going.

I was lucky enough to be climbing the first pitch when a talented photographer was nearby. He took the following 4 pictures. His outstanding site is here: http://jonjonckersphotography.format.com/

 

p1 Photo by Jon Jonkers

p1 Photo by Jon Jonckers

p1 Photo by Jon Jonkers

p1 Photo by Jon Jonckers

p1 Photo by Jon Jonkers

p1 Photo by Jon Jonckers

p1 Photo by Jon Jonkers

p1 Photo by Jon Jonckers

upper tiers report

Jens on upper tiers,   snap of recent

The last 2 pitches were no gimme either. A strong leader with lots of screws could combine them, but I was I no hurry even though wet  from drips on all sections. What a great climb!! I hope to head back this next weekend too.

Canada Ice 12-16

Kidd Falls, p2

Kidd Falls, p2

Please, Click here to help my fallen friend Tyler

Stoke never runs higher than the first ice trip of the season. When else would you try find a last minute partner, drive 24hrs in a 2wd vehicle, spend 5 days in the same motel room, and suffer single digit temperatures?

“..because it’s worth it”, replied my friend Priti. She had just finished a quicky trip to the newly frigid Rockies. Her and her hubby got good early season laps on great climbs such as Bourgeau Right , R+D, and Twisted Sister. Stoked after seeing pics of many fun adventures , I somehow found a willing partner myself on mt. proj , and off we went. I had climbed briefly with Joe a few years back, and remembered that he was safe, and willing to try most sane proposals. High on my list was yet another run at Amadeus, Unicorn, and other mixed treats. This particular season has produced great conditions.

Just like with our incoming administration, there was an impending sense of doom coming in the form of a cold front that was to push the mercury down to single digits. We knew to act fast and make plans fluid as the crowds and conditions allowed. Only the last 2 days had rough weather, so we had a great time doing the following 11 pitches:

12-2-16 haffner 4p to m6 w/joe. Lean conditions, yet lots of ice building.

12-3-16 Kidd Falls wi4, 2p w/Joe. We drove past 4 cars at Amadeus, and only found 2 parties finishing with Kidd, Spectacular route! Warning: Severe avalanche danger on this route!

12-4-16 Grotto 3p to wi4. Drove to Icefields and the roads hadn’t been plowed in a while. Then, past 2 cars again at Amadeus. Plan c: Snowy day at thin His route for laps.

12-5-16 Amadeus wi4-m5, 2p w/ Steve, Joe. Finally only 1 car parked there in very cold temps, Great to have Steve, and his #4 cam along!