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A New Ice Route Was Just Climbed in the Canadian Rockies

While it's been a slow start to the ice season, two climbers are celebrating after making the first ascent of a route found on a remote wall on Mount Bourgeau

Andrew Slootweg and Derrick Van Es have made the first ascent of a two-pitch WI4 just west of the town of Banff. Overall, it’s been a slow start to the ice climbing season in the Canadian Rockies, a range known for having routes formed by mid-October.

The new ice line is near Sunshine Ski Resort and can be accessed from the parking lot for the skiing. “The goal was to climb an ice route that my partner Anna-Engel and I spotted melting out in spring of 2021 while checking out a cave-like feature in the area,” said Slootweg. “Interested in when it might start forming, I returned once again to the area Oct. 28, 2021, to find a fantastic looking pitch or two of ice.”

The Double Dutch WI4. Photo by Andrew Slootweg

At the end of October, Slootweb and Van Es bushwhacked and hiked for three hours to find that the route had once again formed up (see the route’s location here). They climbed it in two pitches, and then reached out to locals to see if it was a first ascent. With climbers like Grant Statham and Kris Irwin being two of the several people asked, it was determined that this was indeed a first ascent.

They named it The Double Dutch and said the first pitch is a 10-metre WI4, while the second pitch is a 35-metre WI4 described as, “20 metres of WI3 with great rests leads to the final steep, and funky WI4 finish. We built a V-thread at the top of this pitch. Blowing snow and heavy winds were cause for retreat at this point.”

Slootweg noted: “This climb is located in terrain that has significant overhead exposure. Any attempts made should be early in the season and not when significant snow accumulation and wind loading has occurred. The approach also takes you through multiple avalanche paths. Be aware of changing conditions. I have included pictures taken by Grant mid season so you can see how the bottom pitch gets filled in and understand how much snow accumulates in that area. This area is also subject to closure as Parks Canada conducts avalanche control routinely during the winter.”

Always visit Avalanche Canada to see avi conditions before heading out. For more info and beta on The Double Dutch visit here.

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