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Banff’s Protection Valley Gets Hard Mixed Routes

Protection Valley in Banff National Park has become the go-to for mixed and ice climbers seeking big, sometimes unclimbed lines.

Jeff Mercier and Jon Walsh climbed a new 150-metre M7 they called Mix Fix on Nov. 25. Walsh said about the climb: “Climbs the deep gash about 250 metres right of Superlight and 150 metres left of Paradis Perdu.

“Enjoyable trad-mixed climbing on every pitch with lots of transitions from rock to ice. I have no idea how often it comes in and with what amounts of ice, but variations in the ice flow would surely make it harder or easier from year to year.”

The crux is the second 20-metre pitch at M7, which Walsh said: “Climb into the back of the cave and chimney out to the ice dagger.” They brought screws, nuts, pitons and a single set of cams.

On the same day, Raph Slawinski, Alik Berg and Steven Kovalenko climbed a new seven-pitch M7R WI4. They called their climb Safe Space.

The crux pitch-seven M7R is written up by Kovalenko as: “Pull the bulge on lots of mediocre gear, crux. Could use a bolt.

“Follow easier R-rated terrain, shallow hooks bad feet, to bad belay at bad ice in alcove. I don’t think there is an option to continue above this pitch without bolts, but Raph would know better. Alik and I didn’t second this pitch due to bad anchor.”

Protection Valley has been busy on weekend for the past few weeks. The approach is about three hours, but the trail is as good as it’s ever been. A few weeks ago, Jay Mills and Kris Irwin climbed the new Grab the Cupcake.