It’s been a warm winter in Ontario, which has led to a slow start to the ice climbing season. With temps in southern Ontario hovering around freezing, many classic ice climbs have yet to form.
In northwestern Ontario, there’s been fat ice since December in places like Orient Bay and Kama Bay, where the amazing Icebreakers WI5+ was just climbed by Wes Bender and Brent Clark. “Icebreakers is as good as it gets,” reported Bender. “Solid ice with gear placements anywhere, accept lower 1/4. Took a bit of digging but Brent [Clark] was able to find good enough gear to get established on the column. You just need to hang on for the ride after that.”
West of Kama Bay, Jared Mill and Tyler Ripku have made the first ascents of an ice route and mixed line. Athens is a 25-metre WI3 and Tears, No Joy is a 30-metre M6R/X WI4, which required pitons for protection, are found 15 minutes west of the town of Marathon. Brent Clark also reported about a new 15-metre route found at Chubb Lake called Short, Weird, and Kinda Hard M3 WI3+.
The popular ice climbs at Bancroft aren’t fully formed and there’s a new trespassing sign at the base of Roller Coaster WI2/3. You can still access the ice from the right via scrappy ledges. North of Bancroft at On Diamond Lake, the classic Guardian Angel WI4 has been climbed, while Where Egos Dare WI4+ and Tammy Baker’s Face WI4+ are not in. Ice has also been climbed at Papenau Roadside.
The Southern Ontario ice festival will be taking place at the start of February, read more about it and other ice events in Canada here. For more Ontario ice climbing conditions visit Andriy Kolos’s page here and the Facebook page Ontario Ice Conditions here.