I moved to the Bow Valley in 2004 with a dozen friends from Thunder Bay after we graduated from Lakehead University. Most of us soon moved into a small house at the base of Hospital Hill in Canmore. Our only goal at the time was to climb as much as possible, so we took random jobs doing construction work; all but forgetting that we had valuable university degrees.
Social media wasn’t really a thing yet, so nearly every climber in the Rockies relied on Will Gadd’s Gravsports-Ice.com climbing forum.
One of my climbing partners was Will Meinen, we had roped up on big north faces like Mount Temple’s. He was recovering from a broken foot that he got after a backflip-onto-the-truck-from-a-patio stunt. The doctor had just told him that he was allowed to start climbing again when I saw pictures that Jason Wilcox had posted on Gravsports from Evan Thomas Creek in Kananaskis Country.
The photos were of a steep wall with drips of ice forming at the top. Wilcox and Kevin Barton had explored the area at the start of January 2008 and made the first ascents of Green Monster WI4+ 30m, Slurpee WI4 35m and WD40 WI4 60m. Barton visited the area, which is an hour-long walk past the classics Moonlight and Snowline back in 1995 when he and Tony Barton made the first ascent of B2 WI3 30m.
I showed the images to Meinen and fellow Lakehead alum Danny O’Farrell and we made a plan to visit the crag to make first ascents of the remaining ice and any mixed lines. You can see where the crag is located on Google maps here.
The approach took longer than it normally would because Meinen was recovering from his injury. We would visit the crag after his mandatory rehab sessions in Canmore. After a few visits, we had climbed a number of new routes and named the crag Rehab Wall.
The first new route was Aromatherapy WI3 35m and then Fun and Fitness WI4R 45m. After the pure ice lines, we turned our attention to the mixed possibilities.
We climbed Acupuncture M4 WI4 20m up some run-out thin ice and added a bolt or two. Then we established The Treatment, a fun-but-tricky M5 WI4. Next to Green Monster, we added Yoga Monster M5 WI4 20m past four bolts to a dagger. The rock is extremely featured.
Lastly, we established Physiotherapy, a nice 35-metre M7 WI5 up an all-natural line through small roofs and horizontal cracks. It’s the route to climb at Rehab Wall and finishes up a wildly exposed dagger. On Gravsports after the first ascents, I wrote, “I hope this area sees much more development as there is room for another five to eight great mixed lines up to 30 metres.”
View this post on Instagram
Another great day out with @naoise_o_m today. We climbed Physiotherapy (M7, WI5) at Evan Thomas Creek in Kananaskis. I decided to set up a time lapse on my bag instead of getting a butt shot. Here’s a frame of Naoise onsighting the route. @rab.equipment @lowe.alpine @mountain_equipment_aus
The next new route to be added was in 2016 by Rob Fulton and Brad Power. The two bolted and climbed the 11-bolt Supermodel, a fun 33-metre M7. It follows the same horizontal bands of rock, linking smears and drips of ice.
And now, another steep mixed route has been added to the right of Supermodel. Seven Reed and Ryan Daniel Patteson have established Self Medication, a 13-bolt 33-metre M7.
Patteson wrote on the Canadian Rockies Ice Climbing Facebook page: “It’s about 10 metres right of Supermodel. Unsurprisingly it climbs similar to Physio and Supermodel, a couple of my favourites. Pumpy Dry tooling on natural holds and ice blobs. The climbing is pretty sustained at the grade and doesnt really let up until you’re situated on the upper ice. Expect a mouthful of dirt somewhere along the way. We think it’s pretty cool. Long draws and shoulder length slings useful. A couple ice screws necessary.”
There’s still room on the Rehab Wall for new mixed routes and it’s great to see that after 12 years, the theme that we started on that far-away crag continues. And it’s all thanks to Meinen’s flip-onto-the-truck accident.