The ice climbing season started with a bear attack on the Icefields Parkway and the action has hardly let up.
Last week, top American climbers Jesse Huey and David Allfrey visited the Rockies. Allfrey’s first ice climbs included Sea of Vapours WI6, Weeping Pillar WI6, Rainbow Serpant WI6, Cryophobia M8 WI6 and The Real Big Drip M8 WI6.
After their ascent of the Trophy Wall near Banff, Allfrey found a small cave and decided to explore. Inside, he found a sleeping bear. Huey wrote on Gravsports-Ice.com: “The most eventful part of the day was when Dave Allfrey on the (descent) saw a super cool cave and checked it out, waking up a hibernating bear. Pretty sure is was just a black bear but we didn’t want to find out!”
Parks Canada opted to close the area to ice climbers. This marks the second closure this year after a bear attacked U.K. climber Greg Boswell on Mount Wilson in the fall. It might be the first year that Parks has issued two bear closures in one ice season due to climbers.
French climber Jeff Mercier is currently in Canmore has climbed a number of impressive routes. With Raphael Slawinski, he climbed a new three-pitch M8 in the Ghost called Blind Date. He spent one day linking Hydrophobia WI6 and Cryophobia M8 WI6 with Marc-Andre Leclerc. He spent another day with Ian Welsted climbing a “sporty” new route that climbs into Whiteman Falls called Frenchman Floats. Read about the first ascent on Welsted’s blog here.
Leclerc and Jon Walsh climbed The Day After la Vacance de Monsieur Hulot M7 WI6, a hard traditional mixed route on the Stanley Headwall. Leclerc teamed up with Mercier for another day on the Headwall and climbed French Reality M7 WI6. A snow slope above released and crashed over the climbers and caused a large avalanche down the approach slope.
Will Mayo visited the Rockies for a few days and spent a number of days on the Stanley Headwall. On one day, he witnessed and photographed a massive avalanche over the route Man Yoga.
In a bad accident, Mark Cosslett took a big fall on Professor Falls near Banff and was airlifted to Calgary. Reports are that he suffered a broken pelvis and other injuries after falling down a pitch of the popular route when a tool popped. Grant Statham, visitor safety specialist for Banff National Park, told The Crag and Canyon, “He didn’t have any protection. He fell approximately 30 metres and he bounced and hit a few ice ledges and rocks along the way, so it was quite a nasty fall.” For more on the story, visit here.