The ice climbing season is in full swing in the Canadian Rockies and many top climbers have been busy swinging tools into early season ice.
The U.K. team of Nick Bullock and Greg Boswell, who have climbed many hard Canadian routes on previous trips, are currently based in Canmore. After attempting the rarely formed Ballz Out on EEOR above the mountain town, the duo drove to the Ghost Valley, where they climbed the famous Real Big Drip V M9 WI6.
The Real Big Drip is a classic testpiece first climbed by Will Gadd, Sean Isaac, Dave Thomson and Kafira Allen in December of 1998 with a mixed grade of M7. It has since seen a number of ascents. A few years a go, an important flake fell off the first pitch when a climber was moving past it, which bumped the grade up to M9. Read about their ascent on Bulluck’s blog.
Canadian rock crusher Jean-Pierre Ouellet (Peewee) is also visiting Canmore. The Quebec-based sender is known for his first ascents of a number of 5.14 climbs. He hadn’t climbed ice for five years, but during the first three days of his visit, climbed Nemesis V WI6, Virtual Reality VI WI6+ and flashed a steep M8+. He said that his partner Ian Welsted gets most of the credit for the bold leads.
Euro climbers Matthias Scherer and Tanja Schmitt, who spent last fall in the Rockies, have been busy climbing big hard routes on the Stanley Headwall.
Canadian Michelle Kadatz and American Katie Bono made an early season ascent of Mixed Master IV 5.8 WI5 on the Icefields Parkway. West Coast climber Sarah Hart is also visiting the Rockies and has climbed a number of early season classics, including Amadeus III 5.9 WI4, with her partner Tim Matsui.