On March 24, we made the first ascent of the first-ever WI6 in the Maritimes and called it The Monster. It rises above the Atlantic Ocean at Raven Head Wilderness Area.
“I’ve been looking at these lines for years from across the bay and this weekend I went to investigate,” said top New Brunswick climber and guidebook author Joe Kennedy after his first trip to the area in 2010.
In 2014, Luc Gallant and I explored Raven Head on the north coast of the Chignecto Peninsula in Nova Scotia.
The first area we checked out was close to to the road with routes about 25 metres. The reason we stopped there was because there wasn’t any ice in Cape D’Or that day.
As we looked west, the monster seas caught our eye and we decided to check it out.
It wasn’t until December 2016 that Michel Martin, Gallant and I returned.
We figured which routes Kennedy climbed and found other hard and steep lines that would rival any of the hardest routes in the Maritimes.
In the winter of 2016/17, Gallant, Martin, Greg Hughes and Marty Dude climbed two WI5s and one WI5+ in the 25 to 35-metre range.
In January 2018, Gallant and I went to see how things were forming up. Conditions were super wet and The Monster wasn’t quite formed.
We decided to climb the 65-metre line to the right, which we named Mega Wet Dream WI5++.
As Roger Fage wrote in his online Nova Scotia ice climbing guide, “Grades… all over the place. The reality is that Nova Scotia has a long and rich history of Sandbagging. I apologize to any visitors who get themselves in over their heads. Consider yourself warned.”
After we climbed Mega Wet Dream, I left for Patagonia, but Hughes, Martin and Gallant took a trip to the north shore of Nova Scotia’s mainland and climbed some beautiful new routes. The also spent sometime in Walton Glen/Little Salmon River area climbing nice lines.
I arrived back to New Brunswick on March 4 with the hopes of getting some ice climbing in.
I got out to Walton Glen with a crew and with Hughes put up two sweet traditional mixed lines at Sea Monster Wall, the 40-metre Melusine M6 WI4+ and the 45-metre Leviathan M6 WI5.
On March 24, Martin, Gallant and I headed for Raven Head with no expectations.
We had a week of cold temps and were just hoping something would be climbable. We were amazed to find that The Monster was in.
In fact it wasn’t only formed, but it was in amazing conditions.
Martin said, “This ones between you two.” So Gallant and I did a one-and-done rock, paper, scissors.
Gallant through paper and I through scissors, so I got to rack up and climb first.
The Monster starts with a series of lock-offs, as the bottom of the route is washed away from the tides.
Then you’re on the first of three pillars. The route climbs 55 metres of 90-degree funky cauliflower ice.
There are stretches of good ice where you want it for protection.
At the top, we were all psyched to finally top-out that spectacular route. As a collective we agreed the grade should be WI6.
This is the first route graded WI6 in the Maritimes and I have a feeling Grand Manan in New Brunswick has routes that rival The Monster.
The late East Coast climber Cory Hall climbed a route and called it Cougar Town WI5+, which comes to mind when thinking about other Maritime ice climbs in the hardest-around category.
Martin and Hughes made the second ascent of The Monster the next day.
One of the best days out this year! Ravenshead Wilderness Area NS is home to some of the best long steep routes in the Maritimes! Today Luc Gallant, Michel Martin and myself did the first ascent of The Monster! We did a one and done Rock Paper Scissors…. I throw scissors while Luc throw paper so I racked up and climbed! Earlier in the season Luc and I climbed the right line in the first photo. The Monster WI6 55m. #radpeople #explore #eastcoastice 📷 2&3 Michel Martin and 4 Luc Gallant.