Back in 2014, top Canadian climber Ian Welsted dubbed the term “Canmonix” for the easy-access difficult alpine climbing above Canmore, which is the Rockies’ closest thing to the world-class close-to-town Chamonix mountains. Although the Rockies limestone is much worse than the Alps’ granite.

In particular, Welsted was referring to the north-facing walls of the Ehagy Nakoda Range: Ha Ling, Canmore Wall, Ship’s Prow and Lawrence Grassi. Welsted established three new routes, including Perpetual Spring III M6, The Hole III M6 and Miner’s Waltz in C (hoss) Sharp II 5.7 in summer. Another winter routes is Little Bobby Onsight WI4.

On Feb. 13, Nial Hamill and his partner Ethan were attempting a new no-bolt route up the north face of Lawrence Grassi, the largest face in the range. Near the top, Hamill took a bit fall, broke his scapula and the two self rescued.

One day this war will be over.

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Hamill wrote on social media: “Yesterday I had my first real climbing accident. About half an hour after this video was taken, about 540m up a 600m trad mixed route I’ve been attempting ground up this winter, I was nearing the top of an M7R pitch when my axes sheared from the flaring groove I was leading. I had felt run out, and mildly concerned about it but I was climbing strong, on sighting, past the crux and close to the next belay ledge.

“Maybe I got too confident, I don’t know. It happened in a flash. I ripped two pins and my partner Ethan figures I fell about 30 metres/100 feet. I cannot account for the next ten minutes as I sat on the rope just off to the side of the belay mumbling about how it was a dream. Ethan smacked some sense into me, got me back to the belay and handled our self rescue like a boss. He waited at the hospital while I got X-rayed. I owe a lot to this guy, as my left arm was rendered useless by what we would discover is a broken scapula. Good partners are a must when you’re climbing in this style. Thanks to Alberta Parks safety for offering us a rescue which we declined as we were able to get down ourselves. The next 8 weeks of my life will be challenging, thanks to everyone who has reached out so far.”

The decision to self-rescue versus calling for a rescue is always a difficult call. Top guide and climber Sean Isaac commented: “Definitely take the rescue in the future though. There will be enough times in your career where you won’t have the skilled crew at k-country to help so might as well use them when you can. I know they gave me shit once (18 years ago) when I broke a pillar and messed myself up pretty good and the ego chose to self rescue instead of enlisting their services.”

Hamill will be talking about his self-rescue at a rescue talk in Canmore on March 7, along with Sean Isaac and Jordy Shepherd who’ll be talking about the basics to rescue. Event page here.

Yesterday I had my first real climbing accident. About half an hour after this video was taken, about 540m up a 600m trad mixed route I’ve been attempting ground up this winter, I was nearing the top of an M7R pitch when my axes sheared from the flaring groove I was leading. I had felt run out, and mildly concerned about it but I was climbing strong, on sighting, past the crux and close to the next belay ledge. Maybe I got too confident, I don’t know. It happened in a flash. I ripped two pins and my partner Ethan figures I fell about 30 metres/100 feet. I cannot account for the next ten minutes as I sat on the rope just off to the side of the belay mumbling about how it was a dream. Ethan smacked some sense into me, got me back to the belay and handled our self rescue like a boss. He waited at the hospital while I got x-rayed. I owe a lot to this guy, as my left arm was rendered useless by what we would discover is a broken scapula. Good partners are a must when you’re climbing in this style.. Thanks to @alberta_parks safety for offering us a rescue which we declined as we were able to get down ourselves. The next 8 weeks of my life will be challenging, thanks to everyone who has reached out so far. #alpineclimbing #canmonix #accident

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