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Ice Climbing Weekly #4: B.C., Ghost and Storm Creek

Ice climbs continue to form in the Rockies and have started on the West Coast

Photo by: Brandon Pullan

Ice climbers have been getting out for the past month in the Canadian Rockies, with over a dozen new routes climbed, a few big solos and moderate classics starting to form.

Once again, a reminder to ice climbers heading out to check Avalanche Canada for the avi forecast as conditions have been touchy.

On the West Coast, ice has been forming in Marble Canyon north of Lillooet and in North Joffre Creek, Fromage Suisse WI3 on the Swiss Wall was climbed.

On Vancouver Island, Marie-Lou Piché, Danny O’Farrell and Max Fisher climbed a new alpine ice line on Mount Arrowsmith. Look for details next week.

In Field, Guiness Gully WI4 250m and Guiness Stout WI4+ was climbed, as was Silk Tassel WI4 and a number of WI4 routes around Twisted. Pilsner Pillar WI6 and Carlsberg Column WI5 should be ready to go by mid-week.

Back up on the Storm Creek Headwall, a 200-metre band of northeast facing rock north of the Stanley Headwall, continues to see a lot of action. James Walter and Seb Taborszky hustled past a number of other climbers to bag the first ascent of two new pitches after the route Splitter Choss. “Excellent day out,” said Walter. “Pitch one is worth doing in it’s own right but with the extra ice up there this winter it’s worth going to the top.”

Taborszky, Walter and Jacob Dans also made the first ascent of Sleight of Hand, a 95-metre WI4+R, between Fleshlumpeater and Shocking Alternative. Nearby Haffner Creek has been busy, but Tokumm Pole WI5 in Marble still needs some time.

On the Icefields Parkway, Shades of Beauty WI4, Murchinson Falls WI5 and Cosmic Messenger WI5 were climbed this week.

In Kananaskis Country, Amadeus M4 WI4, Lone Ranger WI3, R&D WI4 and many other classic routes have been climbed. The routes in Evan Thomas Creek are starting to form.

In the Ghost River Valley, Joker WI3 and Hidden Dragon WI5 were climbed. Wicked Wanda WI4+ was climbed and Malignant Mushroom WI5 was reported to be good to go.

In the Bow Valley, Grotto Canyon and Bear Spirit ice climbs still need some time. Junkyards is climbable, as is Cascade Falls WI3, Rogans Gully WI2 (top photo) and Urs Hole WI3. Louise Falls WI4/5 was climbed to the pillar, but it will need another few days to be fully formed. Bourgeau Left WI5 and Right WI4 are formed. The Professor Falls was climbed, but in very wet conditions.

In Protection Valley behind Castle Mountain, Paradis Perdu WI5 was soloed by Rory O’Donnell, who’s been quietly soloing a number of big routes this year.

Elsewhere in Canada, warm temps have kept away any possibility of mid-autumn ice forming. With cold temps in the forecast for eastern Canada, it’s only a matter of weeks before southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes get their first ice of the season.

Ice in Northwestern Ontario has started to form, with smears appearing in Orient Bay, Fever Falls and at other Thunder Bay classics. Things should be in shape to climb in the next few weeks.

Here’s a tech tip from top climber Sean Isaac, who’s offering an ice climbing lead course this winter. Follow him on Instagram.

Ice weekly #1, Ice weekly #2, Ice weekly #3


Lead photo: Brandon Pullan