Trip Report
Long ago and far away - some Canadian ice pics from February and April 2012

by BMcC
Friday June 1, 2012 8:03pm
Well, not really too long ago nor really that far away....

In January of this year, when I was already on the road taking some pics and doing a bit of ice climbing ( http://www.supertopo.com/tr/An-ice-climbing-mini-safari-part-two-Cody-and-Hyalite-1-12-22-12/t11348n.html ), I wanted to append a little side trip to Canada. However, the weather forecasts for the Banff-Jasper region of the Rockies were for very cold and stormy weather (as can be expected in January). Slipped my January Canadian ice plans to follow some university visits in the Pacific northwest with my wife and one of our kids in February and again (yay!) in April.

My February drive looked roughly like this. The family part (before getting after the ice) of my April trip also included Vancouver, British Columbia. I lucked out with good driving weather for most of both road trips.
Screen capture of a  Mapquest map.
Screen capture of a Mapquest map.
Credit: BMcC

On February 22, I arrived in Banff with enough time to stop by the trailhead for The Professor Falls and the Trophy Wall before continuing onward to the airport to pick up my climbing partner. Just before 9am and only 1 vehicle there. No crowd.

Banff, Alberta, en route to the airport in Calgary - 2/22/12
Banff, Alberta, en route to the airport in Calgary - 2/22/12
Credit: BMcC

Before checking into our motel in Canmore, we drove west from the airport in Calgary, past Canmore, and north past Banff to Field, British Columbia, to check out ice and avi conditions on the "beer climbs" (Carlsberg Column, Labatt's Lane, Guinness Gully, etc.). My 1st time in that area. I can imagine spending days based in Field ticking off some of the routes Joe Josephson describes in Waterfall Ice. However, there had been some significant snow accumulation before our arrival and avi conditions were not appealing. Perhaps later on our trip.

Heading back south towards Canmore, we took another little side trip southwest on the Radium Highway to check out conditions on the Stanley Glacier and Headwall area. My 1st time seeing that area, too. Some great route names and legendary climbs: French Reality, Acid Howl, The Suffer Machine, The Cannibal, and Nemesis. Looked thin, not touching down, and like quite serious stuff. There are a couple of routes I noticed in Josephson's book that might be more my speed near the Stanley Glacier: A Gentleman's Day Out and An Elderly Man's Day Out.

Nice views of the Trophy Wall just south of Banff.

Mt. Rundle and the Trophy Wall - 2/22/12
Mt. Rundle and the Trophy Wall - 2/22/12
Credit: BMcC

The Trophy Wall with the Terminator (150m WI 5+ - 6+), The Rep...
The Trophy Wall with the Terminator (150m WI 5+ - 6+), The Replicant (145m WI 5 - 6+), Poscriptum (45m WI 5+), and the Sea of Vapors (165m WI 5 - 7). Lower portions of the routes looked thin - 2/22/12
Credit: BMcC


Would love to catch them fat and plastic someday - if only I could get on them in WI 3 or 4 conditions.

Cascade Waterfall (300m WI 3). Fat ice, but high avi hazard - 2/22/12
Cascade Waterfall (300m WI 3). Fat ice, but high avi hazard - 2/22/12
Credit: BMcC

Tried the Ice Funnel in the Waiparous Creek Valley (north of the Ghost River Valley) on our 1st day. Hours of driving (some of it exciting) to reach the rim of the Waiparous (75 miles), followed by hours of postholing. The 1st pitch was easy scrambling. The lower bit of the 2nd pitch was steep (good), but very brittle (not good!). Each took a turn at it. During my go at it, with what I thought were moderate, well-aimed swings of my ice tools, I was cleaving off large chunks of ice, substantially narrowing the pillar, and making no progress to the steeper and thinner ice above. Too brittle. We bailed so we could get back to my Honda Pilot and through the sketchy parts of the drive out before dark.
The Ice Funnel (150m WI 4) in the Waiparous Creek valley - 2/23/12
The Ice Funnel (150m WI 4) in the Waiparous Creek valley - 2/23/12
Credit: BMcC

Mellow driving to the Ghost River Valley the next day (69 miles from motel to where we started our short approach walk)...

Nice driving conditions getting to the Ghost River Valley - 2/24/12
Nice driving conditions getting to the Ghost River Valley - 2/24/12
Credit: BMcC

Moderate Ghost River crossing. Not too deep - 2/24/12
Moderate Ghost River crossing. Not too deep - 2/24/12
Credit: BMcC

Skipped attempting the next crossing because the water looked deeper and the far bank of the river was definitely too abruptly tall and icy.

A few minutes of hiking, hopping from rock to rock to get across some ...
A few minutes of hiking, hopping from rock to rock to get across some open water, and then walking on slick river ice got us to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (GBU) - 2/24/12
Credit: BMcC

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - The GBU (45m WI 4 - 5+) - 2/24/12
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - The GBU (45m WI 4 - 5+) - 2/24/12
Credit: BMcC

GBU right side - 2/24/12
GBU right side - 2/24/12
Credit: BMcC

Each took a lead. Did laps on left and right sides - 2/24/12
Each took a lead. Did laps on left and right sides - 2/24/12
Credit: BMcC

The view from the GBU - 2/24/12
The view from the GBU - 2/24/12
Credit: BMcC

A good day. More climbing than the day before in the Waiparous Creek area with far less hiking. Snowing some with more weather coming in. Decent driving conditions, an easy approach stroll, and great ice.

Snowed overnight, so we headed off to the Evan-Thomas Creek for Moonlight and Snowline on our 3rd day. Merely 37 miles from the motel in Canmore (yay!) and a mellow walk up a packed trail. Overcast and snowing pretty much all day.

Moonlight (110m WI 4) and Snowline (100m WI 4) - 2/25/12
Moonlight (110m WI 4) and Snowline (100m WI 4) - 2/25/12
Credit: BMcC

The 1st pitch of each was pretty traveled and pocketed - steep hooking. The 2nd pitch of each was even steeper fun.

The leader of a party on Moonlight - 2/25/12
The leader of a party on Moonlight - 2/25/12
Credit: BMcC

The leader of the party on Moonlight broke the last pitch into a coupl...
The leader of the party on Moonlight broke the last pitch into a couple of shorter pitches. VIew while I was rapping off Snowline - 2/25/12
Credit: BMcC

Though snowing pretty continuously, it was a very mellow and pleasant day.

On our 4th day, with the fresh snow from the previous 2 days, avi forecasts continued to be somewhat elevated. Figured we'd climb something along the Icefields Parkway and move from our motel basecamp in Canmore north to Jasper.

The upper pitches of the Polar Circus - 2/26/12
The upper pitches of the Polar Circus - 2/26/12
Credit: BMcC

Seemed like there was too much fresh and wind-moved snow for it to be avi safe. The Polar Circus has long been one of my dream routes: as in, it will only happen in my dreams that I'll find it in avi safe conditions with fat easy ice. I remain optimistic. Perhaps on my next trip.

After a few hours of driving with numerous stops to take pics, we arrived at the Weeping Wall (118 miles). A 10 minute approach got us to the right side of the lower Weeping Wall for some fun in the afternoon sun.

The Weeping Wall (160m WI 4-5), the Weeping Pillar (155m W...
The Weeping Wall (160m WI 4-5), the Weeping Pillar (155m WI 6) and other upper tier routes - 2/27/12
Credit: BMcC

Weeping Wall - 3rd pitch of the right side route -  2/27/12
Weeping Wall - 3rd pitch of the right side route - 2/27/12
Credit: BMcC

Pleasant afternoon, then north from the Weeping Wall to the Maligne Lodge on the edge of Jasper (77 miles). Cheap eats at the D'ed Dog (Irish Pub).

For our 5th day, we planned to head up the Beauty Creek trail to climb Stanley Senior. Air temp was 1 degree Fahrenheit at 7:30a.m. when we got gas in Jasper. As we drove to the trailhead (56 miles), the wind speed rose and temps dropped significantly.

Blowing snow near the Beauty Creek trailhead - 2/27/12
Blowing snow near the Beauty Creek trailhead - 2/27/12
Credit: BMcC

Temp at the Beauty Creek trailhead - 2/27/12
Temp at the Beauty Creek trailhead - 2/27/12
Credit: BMcC

The air temp at the Beauty Creek trailhead was considerably lower than desired. Rather than risk temperature related discomforts such as frostbite, we opted to keep driving south in our search for ice in warmer climes...

The 1st of our several stops was just south of Beauty Creek and across from Curtain Call. Not warmer, but well worth a stop and binocular inspection.

Curtain Call (125m WI 6) looked stout - 2/27/12
Curtain Call (125m WI 6) looked stout - 2/27/12
Credit: BMcC

Continued south to the Saskaschewan River Crossing and eastward along the David Thompson Highway to check out ice conditions there. Quite dry. Not a lot of snow. Not as cold in degrees, but much windier. Dang wind. Lower pitch on Kitty Hawk was missing; other routes looking unappealing or non-existant.

Back to Highway 93 and north to the Weeping Wall again. The air temp had climbed to 16 above 0. The wind was less brutal and getting some direct sun helped.

On 2nd pitch on the left side route of the Weeping Wall - 2/27/12
On 2nd pitch on the left side route of the Weeping Wall - 2/27/12
Credit: BMcC

My lead, 3rd pitch on the Weeping Wall - 2/27/12
My lead, 3rd pitch on the Weeping Wall - 2/27/12
Credit: BMcC

The 3rd pitch on the left side of the Weeping Wall -  2/27/12
The 3rd pitch on the left side of the Weeping Wall - 2/27/12
Credit: BMcC

On our 6th day we headed east on Highway 16 to the Rocky River (23 miles). Temp was 8 degrees at 7:40am when left Jasper; 16 degrees and windy at the trailhead at 8:45am. Easy gravel flats and frozen river strolling, followed by steep hillside slipping on frozen turf, and some bushwacking through fallen trees - about 3.5 hrs.

Rocky River Blues (230m WI 4) - 2/28/12
Rocky River Blues (230m WI 4) - 2/28/12
Credit: BMcC

Rocky River Blues - 1st pitch. Seemed harder than WI 4 - 2/28/12
Rocky River Blues - 1st pitch. Seemed harder than WI 4 - 2/28/12
Credit: BMcC

My turn - the 2nd pitch is mellow and quite fun at WI 3. The final pit...
My turn - the 2nd pitch is mellow and quite fun at WI 3. The final pitch is WI 2 - 2/28/12
Credit: BMcC

Other people claim 2.5hrs or so for the approach. Hiking down and out was less than 2 hrs. The frozen turf was still super slippery.

On our 7th day, we headed back to the Beauty Creek trailhead (about 56 miles) and to Stanley Sr. Not exactly balmy at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, but much nicer than the -14 of several days before.

Stanley Senior (45m WI 4) - 2/29/12
Stanley Senior (45m WI 4) - 2/29/12
Credit: BMcC

Stanley Senior - my turn - 2/29/12
Stanley Senior - my turn - 2/29/12
Credit: BMcC

I sewed it up after a tense and somewhat confidence-hemorrhaging, fricking struggle to clip a biner with a frozen gate. I should of been much, much smoother. Should may be consider allowing for a rest day on future trips. Did laps before pulling the ropes.

Headed down to Field, British Columbia, for the night (103 miles) for either a beer climb or Louise Falls en route to the Calgary airport on the next day (our 8th).

Louise Falls is visible in the distance just above the left corner of ...
Louise Falls is visible in the distance just above the left corner of the ice castle - 3/1/12
Credit: BMcC

Louise Falls - well filled in and fun - 3/1/12
Louise Falls - well filled in and fun - 3/1/12
Credit: BMcC

Began my drive home from the airport in Calgary by heading southward to Pincher Creek for the night so I could check out the ice in Waterton Lakes National Park.

Just outside Waterton Lakes National Park - "where the mountains meet ...
Just outside Waterton Lakes National Park - "where the mountains meet the prairie" - 3/2/12
Credit: BMcC

Quite unpleasantly, horribly windy. Weather forecast included higher w...
Quite unpleasantly, horribly windy. Weather forecast included higher winds for the next 2 days - 3/2/12
Credit: BMcC

Experts Choice looked fantastic - 3/2/12
Experts Choice looked fantastic - 3/2/12
Credit: BMcC

The ice looked great, but for the pretty incredible wind. Put it off for a future trip. I headed for home feeling good about the fun routes we done, knowing that a month later I was heading back to the northwest for a couple more university tours and just might be able to add on some pic taking and a bit of ice.

April Fools Day - on the road again. Did the university visiting and after dropping the family off at the airport in Eugene, Oregon, around noon on April 7, I headed for Banff. I arrived less than 24 hours later after several stops for gas and for naps.

Before starting this trip, I had various potential partners lined up whom I had met in February, friends of theirs, and a couple of climbers I met in online climbing blogs. Turned out that their various work and family priorities and commitments changed. The changes made several of them unavailable and 2 of them available only for the latter several days of my visit, freeing me up to drive about, take pics, explore, and scramble up some wonderfully easy/fun ice on my own.

The parking for trail to The Professor Falls, was packed. Lots of day hikers. Still plenty of time to walk the asphalt path along the golf course, up the forested trail, and to scramble up The Professor Falls (280m WI 4). Met a couple of Canadian climbers who had just rapped using a single 60m rope. Cool - less ballast - I could take 1 of my 60m ice ropes and leave the other behind at the base of the route. No other parties on the route. Solitude! Great fun with pleasantly easy conditions.

The Professor Falls (280m WI 4) - 4/8/12
The Professor Falls (280m WI 4) - 4/8/12
Credit: BMcC

The uppermost pitch on Professor Falls - very mellow ice - 4/8/12
The uppermost pitch on Professor Falls - very mellow ice - 4/8/12
Credit: BMcC

Uppermost pitch on The Professor Falls - with rope stretch, a single 6...
Uppermost pitch on The Professor Falls - with rope stretch, a single 60m skinny ice line was just long enough for the rappel - 4//8/12
Credit: BMcC

A modest drive (17 miles or so) from the golf course trailhead in Banff to my basecamp for the week in Canmore - the Canadian Alpine Clubhouse. Nice facility: large kitchen; huge living room with views of Canmore in the valley below; showers; laundry facilities; and wifi (spotty) for checking for avi and route conditions, and email. Had a nice upstairs room to myself (for about $25/night) with 2 pairs of bunkbeds and lots of hooks on which to hang my clothes, ropes, and ice gear for drying.

For my 2nd day, I headed to Bow Lake (75 miles) and snowshoed up to Bow Falls. Some postholing even with snowshoes. Bow Falls just to the left of the middle point of this pic. The ski tracks in the foreground lead to the Bow Lake Hut (far and away out of view around the toe of the ridge descending to the lake from the left) and a multi-day glacier ski tour.

Crossing Bow Lake to get to Bow Falls - 4/9/12
Crossing Bow Lake to get to Bow Falls - 4/9/12
Credit: BMcC

Closer to Bow Falls (just to the right of the center of this pic&#...
Closer to Bow Falls (just to the right of the center of this pic) - 4/9/12
Credit: BMcC

Bow Falls (95m WI 3-4) - 4/9/12
Bow Falls (95m WI 3-4) - 4/9/12
Credit: BMcC

The uppermost portion of Bow Falls was getting some morning sun, but the ice below was fabulously plastic. It was very nice and even comforting, too, that the snow cornice was off to the right of the climb rather than overhanging and overshadowing it.

Tracks in the snow with Bow Lake in the distance - 4/9/12
Tracks in the snow with Bow Lake in the distance - 4/9/12
Credit: BMcC

My tracks point the way back down from the cirque, connecting to the main Bow Hut Trail at the 1st band of trees on the right, and crossing Bow Lake to the trailhead near the base of the forest near the top of this pic.

Gorby Falls (40m WI 3) as seen from up on Bow Falls - 4/9/1
Gorby Falls (40m WI 3) as seen from up on Bow Falls - 4/9/1
Credit: BMcC

Given the size of the cornice baking in the sun above Gorby Falls, the ice over there did not hold much appeal for me.

Rapping down Bow Falls - 4/9/12
Rapping down Bow Falls - 4/9/12
Credit: BMcC

For my 3rd day of exploring and taking photos, I drove over to Field in British Columbia (68 miles), to check out the Guinness Gully (245m WI 4; bisecting the fuzzy image below). The 2 Canadians climbers I had met at the base of The Professor Falls had climbed it a few days earlier and told me Guinness was in good shape, and perhaps a bit easier than Professor. The 2 snowy looking bits of ice in the top 1/3 of this image are Guinness Stout (80m WI 4+) and High Test (60m WI 4+).

Guinness Gully (245m WI 4) - 4/10/12
Guinness Gully (245m WI 4) - 4/10/12
Credit: BMcC


Parked near this cheery warning sign...

Sign says all of the ice climbs on Mt. Dennis are in avi chutes - 4/10...
Sign says all of the ice climbs on Mt. Dennis are in avi chutes - 4/10/12
Credit: BMcC

One of the upper pitches on Guinness Gulley - fun - 4/10/12
One of the upper pitches on Guinness Gulley - fun - 4/10/12
Credit: BMcC

Almost done rappelling the Guinness Gully - 4/10/12
Almost done rappelling the Guinness Gully - 4/10/12
Credit: BMcC

Fun route. Skipped the hour plus hike to High Test and Guinness Stout since the mid-day sun was beginning to cook the snow above.

On my 4th day, I planned to check out Shades of Beauty. It's on the opposite side of Beauty Creek from Stanley Senior which I had climbed with a partner in February. Looked really good then.

I drove past Mt. Andromedra on my way north to the Beauty Creek trailhead. The Andromedra Strain (image below) beckons. It's the icy corner/slot that intersects the ridge line about two-thirds of the way from the col at the left to the summit. Dreaming of finding it in mellow, easy conditions on a future trip. Dream on.

The Andromedra Strain (V 5.9 A2 WI4) on Mt. Andromedra - 4/11/12
The Andromedra Strain (V 5.9 A2 WI4) on Mt. Andromedra - 4/11/12
Credit: BMcC

Slipstream on Snowdome is just a bit farther north.

Slipstream (925m WI 4+) on Mount Snowdome - note the cornice - 4/11/12
Slipstream (925m WI 4+) on Mount Snowdome - note the cornice - 4/11/12
Credit: BMcC

After stops to take pictures of the Andromedra Strain, Slipstream, the Weeping Wall (118 miles from Canmore), and Curtain Call, I finally arrived at the Beauty Creek Trailhead (141 miles). Geared up and snowshoed in.

Shades of Beauty looked great.

Shades of Beauty (120m WI 4) - 4/11/12
Shades of Beauty (120m WI 4) - 4/11/12
Credit: BMcC

The route met my expectations: wonderfully fun climbing and, as Joe Josephson wrote, "A classic climb -- and easy for its grade." It was the perfect route for my 4th day of exploring on this trip.

A steep little headwall on Shades of Beauty - perhaps the crux - 4/11/...
A steep little headwall on Shades of Beauty - perhaps the crux - 4/11/12
Credit: BMcC

You can see the highway from Shades of Beauty. Something seemed odd. There had been essentially no traffic noise for hours. I packed up, hiked out, and found a note on the windshield of my Pilot.

Dang it! I'd rather have had a $100 parking ticket than this.
Dang it! I'd rather have had a $100 parking ticket than this.
Credit: BMcC

Since the road south to Canmore and all of my gear was to be closed for at least 1 to 2 days, I decided to drive north of Jasper, east to Edmonton, south to Calgary, and west to Canmore.

When I got close enough to Jasper to get a cell connection, I called the park wardens to find out when the road south might be reopened. Answer: 1 to 2 days. Called Hedd-wyn, the Canadian who was generously planning to climb with me on Thursday and Friday, and explained my dilemma. Canceled our Thursday plans.

Got lost briefly in both Edmonton (around midnight) and Calgary (some hours later) adding miles and 10s of minutes to my drive. Took a few breaks on the drive and a roadside nap, arriving back at the Clubhouse just after 6am (615 miles from trailhead to Canmore).

My 5th day turned into a rest day. Probably just as well, since it rained and poured all day long in Canmore.

For Friday the 13th of April (my 6th day), Hedd-wynn suggested that we climb Beowulf (670m WI 4) in the Ghost River Valley. Heck yeah!

We met part way to the Ghost, parked my Pilot for the day, and went onwards in his Ghost vehicle, a Dodge Durango.

Downed tree blocking much of the road - drove over the top of it  - 4/...
Downed tree blocking much of the road - drove over the top of it - 4/13/12
Credit: BMcC

Some deep slushy snow on the road.

Put chains on all 4 wheels of the Durango and felt my optimism return ...
Put chains on all 4 wheels of the Durango and felt my optimism return - 4/13/12
Credit: BMcC

I figured whatever happened was cool, Hedd-wyn was an experienced Ghost driver, the scenery was fantastic, and, worst case, we'd have to dig out the Durango from drift or 2. Best case, we'd get there and climb Beowulf.

Ghost River approach drive - 4/13/12
Ghost River approach drive - 4/13/12
Credit: BMcC

Traction was sometimes dubious, but the scenery getting to the Ghost w...
Traction was sometimes dubious, but the scenery getting to the Ghost was striking - 4/13/12
Credit: BMcC

Heading down the Big Hill - Ghost River Valley adventures and ice beck...
Heading down the Big Hill - Ghost River Valley adventures and ice beckon - 4/13/12
Credit: BMcC

Not good road conditions for a 2-wheel drive vehicle.

Hedd-wynn and the high-centered Durango - Friday the 13th. Many miles ...
Hedd-wynn and the high-centered Durango - Friday the 13th. Many miles before the route we planned to climb - 4/13/12
Credit: BMcC

Not good conditions for a 4-wheel-drive even with serious chains on all 4 wheels!

Dug snow out from under the Durango trying to un-high-center it. No traction, so it was time to get serious: more shoveling and we got out the come-along winch, lots of webbing, and long steel cables.

Shoveling and the come-along pulling at this angle didn't free the Dur...
Shoveling and the come-along pulling at this angle didn't free the Durango - 4/13/12
Credit: BMcC

1st tree we used was too small and the angle was wrong - we stopped before uprooting it; 2nd tree (this 1) was larger, but the angle was still wrong; the 3rd tree was also large, even farther away, and (paraphrasing what Goldilocks would have said) the angle was just right.

The Ghost - 4/13/12
The Ghost - 4/13/12
Credit: BMcC

It was such a beautiful day in the Ghost. The sun had come out intermittently making the scenery even more special. However, it also warmed and further melted snow, and deepened the bogs and puddles. After what seemed like hours of shoveling and winch-work, Hedd-wyn got the Durango unstuck and turned around. Although we didn't climb any ice, we escaped without getting stuck again (yay!). The Ghost experience. Thank you, Hedd-wyn!

Even after getting up the Big Hill and back onto the "main road" above...
Even after getting up the Big Hill and back onto the "main road" above the Ghost, the adventure driving continued - 4/13/12
Credit: BMcC

I learned that for serious approach conditions in the Ghost, it could be good to have a couple of teams of climbers in 4-wheel drive vehicles, each with chains for all 4 wheels, come-alongs or more serious winches, webbing slings to wrap around the trees, steel cable, numerous shovels, lots of energy for shoveling and winching, and excellent luck. Some sort of saw or ax to deal with downed trees. It was clear that my 4-wheel drive Honda Pilot with 1 pair of chains and a wimpy little snow-camping shovel might not be adequate for some conditions. No one else drove down into the Ghost on that Friday the 13th.

On the 7th day of my Canadian photo and ice tour, I headed for Murchison Falls with Jack Coulis (a Canadian friend of some Canadians whom I met climbing the Rocky River Blues back in February). Jack had driven down from Edmonton to the Clubhouse on the evening of Friday the 13th to climb with me Saturday and part of Sunday. I was looking forward to climbing and was feeling pretty well-rested after slacking off the previous 2 days (April 12 became a rest day after driving 615 miles to get back after climbing Shades of Beauty on the 11th; April 13 was a no-climbing, rest day, consisting instead of a nice picnic lunch along with hours of shoveling snow and winching in the Ghost River Wilderness). Hiking in snow and climbing ice on Mt. Murchison was going to be really fun.

Murchison Falls  (180m WI 4+) - 4/14/12
Murchison Falls (180m WI 4+) - 4/14/12
Credit: BMcC

Jack Coulis - 4/14/12
Jack Coulis - 4/14/12
Credit: BMcC

Jack cruising up the 3rd pitch of Murchison Falls - 4/14/12
Jack cruising up the 3rd pitch of Murchison Falls - 4/14/12
Credit: BMcC

Following the crux pitch (4th) of Murchison Falls - (photo...
Following the crux pitch (4th) of Murchison Falls - (photo courtesy of Jack Coulis) - 4/14/12
Credit: BMcC

Jack  at the top of  Murchison Falls in mini-blizzard conditions. He's...
Jack at the top of Murchison Falls in mini-blizzard conditions. He's wearing an ear-to-ear grin inside that hood - 4/14/12
Credit: BMcC

Rappelling through falling snow into the void - 4/14/12
Rappelling through falling snow into the void - 4/14/12
Credit: Jack Coulis

Ice curtain at 1 of the fixed rap stations. Storming and blowing outsi...
Ice curtain at 1 of the fixed rap stations. Storming and blowing outside the ice cave and peaceful inside - 4/14/12
Credit: BMcC

Jack had to return to Edmonton on Sunday, so we opted to do a short route on the last climb of my little picture taking and ice trip. Louise Falls seemed about right - modest drive from Canmore (51 miles), 20-30 minute approach walk on a sleigh trail, and several pitches of fun ice.

Louise Falls (110m WI 4-5). The lead climber of the party ahea...
Louise Falls (110m WI 4-5). The lead climber of the party ahead of us is visible near the bottom right of the ice cave - 4/15/12
Credit: BMcC

I led up the leftmost side of the falls a pitch. Jack led up into the ice cave from the left, traversed right inside the cave, and belayed just inside the large window/entrance to the cave. This allowed me to exit the cave and choose to either climb the right side curtain/pillar (running with water - I got hosed) or the left side.

From inside the ice cave on Louise Falls (110m WI 4-5) - 4/15/12
From inside the ice cave on Louise Falls (110m WI 4-5) - 4/15/12
Credit: BMcC

From inside the ice cave on Louise Falls (110m WI 4-5) - 4/15/12
From inside the ice cave on Louise Falls (110m WI 4-5) - 4/15/12
Credit: BMcC

We had the option of hiking down from the top after finishing the climb, but chose to rap instead since there were no parties behind us. Jack rapped 1st. When I was leading this section out of the cave, I had initially started up the curtain/pillar of ice on the right side of the cave opening as did the party before us. However, by time we had gotten onto the ice, it had been in the sun for several hours and there was simply so much water running down the ice that I was getting soaked... I climbed back down to the cave and then out again, but up the left side of the cave opening - not as wet.

Louise Falls  - 4/15/12
Louise Falls - 4/15/12
Credit: BMcC

Jack the ice caveman on (in?) Louise Falls (110m WI 4-5) - 4/15/12
Jack the ice caveman on (in?) Louise Falls (110m WI 4-5) - 4/15/12
Credit: BMcC

My turn - hanging around on rappel outside and above the ice cave on L...
My turn - hanging around on rappel outside and above the ice cave on Louise Falls - 4/15/12
Credit: Jack Coulis

The Louise Falls climb and this rappel made for a great ending to my bit of Canadian photo taking and ice tripping.

Summary:
During the interval of February 23 to March 1, climbed: a bit of the Funnel; the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; Snowline and Moonlight; the left and right sides of the Weeping Wall; Rocky River Blues; Stanley Senior; and Louise Falls (4,781 miles).

During the interval of April 8 to 15, climbed: The Professor Falls; Bow Falls; Guinness Gully; Shades of Beauty; Murchison Falls; and Louise Falls (4,927 miles).

It was wonderful taking pics, scrambling up easy stuff, and climbing with friends. I thought all of these routes were great fun and there are so many, many more routes to do.

I hope you enjoy the pics... Cheers to all!

  Trip Report Views: 3,224
BMcC
About the Author
BMcC is a trad climber from Livermore.

Comments
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neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Jun 1, 2012 - 08:14pm PT
hey there say, BMcC.... awwwww, shucks, it's me, the dial up gal, :))


but i did just want to step in and say, thanks for the neat share...

love canada stuff...


i know it's a great share, even if i can't see the pics, :)
rhyang

climber
SJC
  Jun 1, 2012 - 08:16pm PT
Beautiful pics, Bill !
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Jun 1, 2012 - 08:28pm PT
excellent photos, great write-up

Canada is infinitely awesomer than the bastard sibling to the south, eh? Canada uber alles!!!
Phil_B

Social climber
CHC, en zed
  Jun 1, 2012 - 08:39pm PT
Wow!!

TFPU. Already I want more.
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
  Jun 1, 2012 - 08:44pm PT
RAD!!! thanks for the eye candy
Malemute

Ice climber
great white north
  Jun 1, 2012 - 08:46pm PT
Nice TR.
Glad you enjoyed the ice!

A long handled, ordinary dirt shovel is good for a high centered vehicle; so is a JackAll. Often you can move a vehicle a couple feet sideways with a JackAll. Lift up the back & push it sideways. Lift the front & push it sideways. Beware kickbacks.

No hand jammies this trip? ;-)
tahoe tom

Trad climber
camas wa and incline village nevada
  Jun 2, 2012 - 12:43am PT
Awesome TR you really covered some ground! How long of a trip was that or was it multiple visits?
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Jun 2, 2012 - 01:06am PT


kudos and thanks.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jun 2, 2012 - 02:05am PT
Thanks everyone for the comments and compliments!

There is so much ice up there in the Canadian Rockies. My visits this year in February and April were only the 3rd and 4th times I've been up there in the "winter". I'll be going back.

Malemute - right on with your shovel suggestion: Hedd-wyn was prepared with a conventional long handled dirt shovel, a grain shovel for moving larger volumes of snow, some sort of square-nosed shovel, and a long handled ice breaker. We used all of them at various times.

Have you really used a JackAll as you described to move a vehicle laterally? to hoist the back of a truck up, so you could shove the vehicle (topple it?) sideways off the JackAll?

Before I drive into the Ghost again, I'll more carefully consider what extraction tools I might need.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jun 2, 2012 - 03:24am PT
neebee - just wondering... can you see the pics at all, since the Supertopo TR format displays them in something less than maximum resolution in the TRs, unless you click on an image to get the full(er) resolution version?

It's a bummer if you can't see the pics, because the pics are far more descriptive and informative than my writing is or could ever be.

Bill
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  Jun 2, 2012 - 02:33am PT
BMcC, you real.
Malemute

Ice climber
great white north
  Jun 2, 2012 - 09:35am PT
Have you really used a JackAll as you described to move a vehicle laterally? to hoist the back of a truck up, so you could shove the vehicle (topple it?) sideways off the JackAll?
Yes I have. Once. You need to beware of the jack being spit out at you. It's safer to push near the rear wheels than beside the jack.
Not recommended for a long lateral movement; but good if you only had to move a few feet.
One must strike a balance with jack height: higher means more distance moved, but a harder landing, and more chance of the jack jumping out. There would be some advantage in replacing the jack's footpiece with a piece of wood with a shallow recess.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jun 2, 2012 - 03:45pm PT
Malemute - I've been really lucky on my 4 forays (so far) into the Ghost and only gotten stuck this last time (a Friday the 13th).

With my little bit of 4-wheeling experience, I would have called it quits long before even getting as far as the Big Hill, had we been in my vehicle (more of a pretend 4x4 and not an off-road capable, high ground clearance truck).

Late season, warm, no other traffic, nasty weather the day before... numerous factors weighed against our being successful even getting to our climb. However, it could and would have been so much fun to get on and do another Ghost route (woo hoo: Beowulf), that I was jazzed that Hedd-wyn had the enthusiasm, wheels, other tools, and the expertise to get us in and to get us unstuck.

Took a glance at my Pilot. Looks like it would be hard to use your JackAll suggestion on it. The vehicle has no trailer hitch to use as the load-bearing lift point for the rear of the vehicle, nor anything on the front end. That's just as well! - toppling an elevated vehicle (mine?) sideways off a bumper jack sounds far, far riskier than 3rd-classing easy ice.

Will just have to beef up my extraction tool kit and be especially, extra prudent about when and under with what weather, snow, and road conditions, I go into the Ghost in my vehicle and how far I push it.

Thanks again!
Bill

p.s. Had the hand jammies along, but didn't use them on this trip - they stayed in a small duffle with my rock shoes in the back of the Pilot ;-)

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 2, 2012 - 04:58pm PT
Stellar pics, stellar TR,

YOU sir are a LUCKY man!!!

Thanks!
-e
poop_tube

Big Wall climber
33 45' N 117 52' W
  Jun 4, 2012 - 05:12pm PT
Love it!!! Thanks for spreading the stoke! Phenomenal pictures!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jun 4, 2012 - 05:54pm PT
Thank you for posting. It is summer and I am excited about this season, but already getting excited about the winter too!!!!
Malemute

Ice climber
great white north
  Jun 4, 2012 - 06:21pm PT
BMcC:

Once upon a time, I was in the ghost in May, alone except for the two Malamutes. No problems going in, but it got hot during the day and snowmelt caused the creeks to rise. A dip in the "road" that had been a puddle on the way in turned out to be deep enough on the way out that water got in my air intake. Instant hydrolock. I winched the truck out of the puddle & proceeded to take the plugs out. Well, I tried to take the plugs out. My 80 piece socket set from Sears did not have a 13/16" spark plug socket. So I started walking out. I got across one roaring creek but the dogs would have none of it. I bivied on one side of the creek; the dogs on the other. By early morning the creek had dropped enough for me to cross back & corral the dogs. Fortunately, I got a ride before I had to walk all the way out to the main road.

A buddy drove me back two days later to recover the truck.
Here is a snap of the drive out:
http://www.supertopo.com/photos/11/93/240829_5133_L.jpg


Oh yeah, the handjammies look odd, but they are a clever solution to the problem. Good on ya.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jun 4, 2012 - 07:19pm PT
Malemute - WOW!

Yours was the kind of full Ghost epic that I hope to never experience in my ice and rock adventures.

Malemute's pic
Malemute's pic
Credit: BMcC
Cool pic of your truck

Bill
Malemute

Ice climber
great white north
  Jan 2, 2014 - 08:18pm PT
BUMP

Credit: Malemute

the locals know what to do when the banff jasper highway is closed!
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jan 4, 2014 - 03:24pm PT
Wow I am psyched to have come across this today! What an amazing trip.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Jan 4, 2014 - 08:30pm PT
you did Guinness Gully but not Stout??

great photos, fine writing. thanks.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jan 4, 2014 - 11:27pm PT
ms55401 - thanks.

Why not Guinness Stout? Ah, well... after climbing Guinness Gully, I wasn't comfortable with the mild temps, soft snow above Guinness Gully, and potential avi hazard - seemed more appropriate to get down and away rather than to get after the Stout.

Another of many routes to do on a future trip.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Jan 5, 2014 - 01:17pm PT
Nice TR Bill!

Best ice climbing destination on the planet as long as the chinook winds aren't mucking things up.

I don't think the Trophy Wall ever gives up a line at less that WI 5 and your shots are pretty fat looking. I did The Replicant with Scott DeCapio in really good shape and it was a blast. Great position and committing feeling up there. Well worth the long approach and a real pleasure to ponder once you are successful. Scott had already soloed the Sea of Vapors when it was in prime condition.

The three times that I have been up that way have been in December to keep the avalanche danger to a minimum. Shorter days but much less deposition to worry about.

I am glad that Tim Auger has retired and wish him well but I felt like he was a big ally in judging the conditions and stuck to his advice without fail. I need to buy him a bottle of Scotch and a steak next time I'm up that way. He was one of the pioneers that opened this place up BITD.

A quick plug for Hans Peter Stettler and the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge in Canmore. Hans comes from a family of Swiss hoteliers and received his 50 year pin as a guide quite a while ago. The RMSL has nice kitchenettes at a very reasonable rate if you aren't into eating out all the time and Hans Peter is a prince of a man. Very personable and knowledgeable as well.
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
  Jan 5, 2014 - 10:36am PT
Thanks for the Canada stoke
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
  Jan 5, 2014 - 10:41am PT
Great TR - Thanks for the big effort loading all those pics!

Hey - what happened to that Loffoten Islands alpine climbing TR? That was realy cool but it seems to have vanished
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Jan 5, 2014 - 11:02am PT
Great report. Been to a few of those places in the summer. Some of the most spectacular mountain scenery I have ever seen.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Jan 5, 2014 - 11:11am PT
hey there say, wow! nice to see the bump on this...

will try to see more pics this time!
great time of year for this bump, as well...

hope climbers get to enjoy their ice season, to their
best!
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Jan 6, 2014 - 05:23pm PT
Thanks everyone. Fun to see the pics in this TR again.

Bruce K - I have yet to visit the Lofoten Islands, but maybe someday. A Brit in camp below the Moose's Tooth last May told me a bit about an Senja (2nd largest island in Norway) - said there was lots of ice potential. Intriguing.

Might this be the Lofoten TR (not mine) that you were thinking of? http://www.supertopo.com/tr/How-Very-Scandinavian-of-Us/t378n.html

Cheers!
Bill

Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Jan 6, 2014 - 08:30pm PT
WOW and way to get after that heinous driving !!!
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