Categories
Canada 2016 my travels sport

Canada – Day6 – Weathering Heights WI4

They say not to step into the same river twice – I mostly agree –  unless it’s a Ghost River Wilderness Area.
We’ve revisited the place after scouting it yesterday – this time fully geared up

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

with intentions to either climb Wicked Wanda WI4+  (as seen from the car yesterday, around 40min walk from the car) or a combo of Weathering Heights, III, WI 4 and Anorexia Nervosa, III, WI 4R which are located very close to each other – but around 1h hike from the car – and other direction than Wicked Wanda.

We’ve decided to go for the combo. After a 1h 20 mins walk – which is nothing like we gotten used to (trail is first 1km, then its just hiking up dry river bed)

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

strava-weathering

 

Unfortunately upon arriving to the location we’ve learned that Anorexia wasn’t fully formed and it wasn’t really safe to climb it (the bottom part was missing).

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

We’ve focused our efforts on Weathering Heights:

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

The route itself looks different from what we’ve seen in description – it’s actually 3 pitches:
1st pitch – 35m with bolted belay to the right – lead today by Del.

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

2nd pitch – long 55m with a tree belay to the left – lead by Padriag – he actually climbed it twice today – but more about it later 😉

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

3rd pitch – which not many people do as it’s an easy 15m to another tree belay.

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

Conditions today weren’t great – it was snowing for most of the day – making climbing more challenging –

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

– but also more rewarding once we topped it out!

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

There were 2 real options to abseil –
a) from the tree anchor of the top pitch – with a risk of not reaching the bolted anchors of pitch 1

b) from the tree anchor of the 2nd pitch – but with guaranteed access to the bolts on 2x60m ropes.

We’ve opted on the option b) – PG went first, followed by Del – I went last. We’ve quickly learned that in order to go down that way the rope goes over sharp rock – not ideal, but we just need to be careful. There was also the risk of rope jamming on the pull – and that’s what happened…. pulling yellow, pulling pink, it didn’t go. Someone had to climb the pitch again (nearly 60m!) and investigate.
Padriag quickly volunteered, we’ve setup a semi-self arresting system, that would provide some safety and off he went again.

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

After good 40mins he was back – it turned out that ropes got to the rock groove, and were blocking each other – kind of like in a reverso belay.
He told us that to fix the situation he secured himself with a screw, freed the ropes, built a v-thread, abseiled on it to us – and we’ve abseiled to the bottom.
Good and safe solution to a not that uncommon situation.

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

It was 4.30 pm by the time we got down to the bottom of the climb – so we had to go back to the car, in order to avoid driving in the dark through non-existed road in the middle of nowhere.

From Canada2016-Day06-WeatheringHeights

2h later we were back in The Hostel Bear, Canmore – our home for these 2 weeks.

Categories
Canada 2016 holidays my travels sport

Canada – Day5 – Rest day aka location scouting

A bit different schedule than usually today – instead packing up early for climbing we decided to take a day off and do some research on the Ghost River area.

It’s  a very remote place- around 2h drive from Canmore. Details here: http://www.summitpost.org/south-ghost-climbs/291125

The Ghost was established in 1967 on the front range of the Canadian Rockies and consists of 15,317ha (60 square miles) of raw wilderness bordering Banff National Park to the east and north. Its mountains include Mounts Aylmer, Apparition, Oliver and Costigan. The Ghost Valley actually refers to a larger area that is more specifically located approximately 30kms north of Canmore along the eastern border of Banff National Park and east of the Palliser Mountain Range. The Ghost’s glacier carved valleys provide for steep water runoff creating some of the best waterfall ice climbing in Canada. Much of this terrain is considered less avalanche prone than most ice routes in Kananaskis and routes deeper into the national parks. Although not all the Ghost climbs are technically in The Ghost (many of the climbs are in Banff National Park), this whole area of provincial wilderness takes on that identity.
 
The Ghost Valley is discussed as the South Ghost and North Ghost relative to climbing. The South Ghost is divided into several different areas when discussing waterfall ice: Orient Point, Devil’s Gap,Planter’s Valley, Constellation Valley, Black Rock Mountain and Johnson Creek. The North Ghost includes all the climbs along both sides of the Ghost River. The “North Ghost” routes entail more of a 4×4 drive approach than the “South Ghost” routes.

We’ve decided to focus on Devil’s Gap area of the South Ghost as it is the most accessible area – it still is around 2h driving – that requires 17km of gravel off-roading, very steep unpaved hill-climbing, as well as crossing dry river bed.

From Canada2016-Day05-RestDay-GhostScouting

Our driver and Toyota did a good job getting us there safely. Some manual road cleaning was required though:

From Canada2016-Day05-RestDay-GhostScouting

 

End of road – Banff National Park border. This is where you leave the car and hike couple of km (depending on the climb you choose). This is a seriously remote area with no services and possible bear and cougars encounters.

From Canada2016-Day05-RestDay-GhostScouting

Here we see Wicked Wanda – Wi4+ – 2 pitch 50m route we’ll come back to do tomorrow. Zoomed in photo on the link under the picture.

From Canada2016-Day05-RestDay-GhostScouting

 

Generally it was a good day out – and we are coming back tomorrow there to climb so stay tuned for climb reports shortly!

From Canada2016-Day05-RestDay-GhostScouting
Categories
Canada 2016 holidays my travels

Canada – Day4 – Lake Louise Falls – WI4

Yet another epic day – completely different than yesterday, when we were pretty much done by lunch time.

Today we got up as usual at 7am, I made my famous eggs and bacon, and by 9.30 we were gearing up at the car park. Lake Louise is based around 1h drive from Canmore.

From Canada2016-Day04-LakeLouise

The approach is super easy – essentially walk the trail by the lake – you can almost  see the fall from the moment you leave the car park.

From Canada2016-Day04-LakeLouise

Strava approach and elevation gain link: https://www.strava.com/activities/512209134

Detailed route description can be found here: http://www.summitpost.org/louise-falls-iii-wi-4/181139

In short – it’s an amazing WI4/5 (depending on conditions) multipitch – up to 120m – that can be done in anything between 2 and 4 pitches. Biggest risk involve falling debris – which one party ahead of us seen first hand.

From Canada2016-Day04-LakeLouise

Big chunk of falling ice cut Kasia’s (that we met climbing with her boyfriend) eyebrow pretty deep. Luckily I had a first aid kit and could fix  her up before she continued her adventure on the last pitch.

From Canada2016-Day04-LakeLouise

But to get there one has to climb 3 pitches of fantastic ice up to amazing ice cave.

Big shout-out to Del for leading the cave pitch (pitch 3) – absolute amazingballs!

From Canada2016-Day04-LakeLouise

Leaving the cave:

From Canada2016-Day04-LakeLouise

I must say though that for me, personally the most physically challenging was overhanging ice of pitch 2 leading to the cave – especially the top part of it  – lead by Paddy: good job on that.

From Canada2016-Day04-LakeLouise

I should have really lead the 4th pitch – easy WI3 – but by the time I finished fixing up Kasia, it was already claimed. My bad really. I still enjoyed the day – probably the best so far.

From Canada2016-Day04-LakeLouise

Us at the bottom leaving the climb. We took the right hand side line – with the cave seen 3 quarters up the route.

Ret of the photos from that day are here:

Canada2016-Day04-LakeLouise

 

Categories
Canada 2016 holidays my travels Uncategorized

Canada – Day3 – Grotto Canyon Falls – WI3

Easy ground. Short drive, short walking. Good WI3 2 pitch climbing – I led both, boys followed, and then free solo’ed.

 

From Canada2016-Day03-GrottoCanyon

 

Place is set in amazing canyon – you walk up frozen river for around 2km.

While it’s relatively safe, and a popular destination for tourists and climbers alike even easy walks can have bad consequences if one slips and falls:

As we were finishing up the climb we met a woman with 2 kids. They decided to check out the base of the fall we just climbed, and on a way up there (very easy ground) the woman slipped (she was wearing spikes) and slid down on her ass, breaking her thumb in the process. It was badly dislocated, and they quickly walked back to their car to drive to the hospital. I hope she’s ok.

 

His and Hers (other 2 falls in the area) weren’t climbable – very think and dangerous.

Description:

http://www.canadianrockiesice.com/ice-climbs/bow-valley/grotto-canyon/

Photos:

Canada2016-Day03-GrottoCanyon

Approach hike and elevation gain as recorded by Strava here: https://www.strava.com/activities/511150763

Categories
Canada 2016 holidays my travels Uncategorized

Canada – Arrival and first climbing- Moonlight Falls WI4

We arrived to Calgary on the 4th of March. It  took over 20 hours, as our flight was delayed and we missed a connection in Toronto.

Luckily I planned ahead and had a hotel booked at Calgary airport. Good night’s sleep, visit at local climbing store (mec.ca) and a short drive (1.5h) to Canmore next day made a very good start to this adventure.

First day was no climbing. We settled in in Canmore Bear Hostel, figured out what’s what and got ready for some good ice the following day.

The walking wasn’t too bad – although we’ve taken a wrong turn and added probably 2km through the woods. Oh well.

The climb was very good. Solid WI4,  Del and Padraig swapped leads, with me carrying “supplies” bag as a second. The 2nd pitch cave belay is worth mentioning – good bolted belay at unusual location.

From Canada2016-Day02-Moonlight

Description Below:
http://www.cirrusalpineguides.com/activity/route/moonlight-falls-110m-wi-4

Our photos.

Canada2016-Day02-Moonligh