Climbers have been heading up frozen waterfalls in Canada for decades and a lot has changed. From the equipment and protection to where climbers find information on climbs and safety.
Many experienced ice climbers began when there was no internet to use as a resource. They relied on journals, clubs, hear-say and guidebooks.
In 2017, with everything at your fingertip, the way ice climbing information is passed along is very different. Many new ice climbers started after the dawn of Facebook and social media, so naturally those are the places they’re accustomed to going for information.
And while Facebook and Instagram are great places to get started, in the end every climber should be familiar with the many resources available.
Avalanche Safety: This is the most important for ice climbers heading into the mountains. Whether the hazard is low or high will determine where you go that day.
Avalanche.ca is the place to go for forecasts. Read the information on what the daily updates mean. Check it every time you plan to go out.
Avalanche Terrain Ratings: Parks Canada has given avalanche classifications to most popular routes in the Canadian Rockies. They break it down to Simple, Challenging and Complex.
An example would be Louise Falls is Simple and Polar Circus is Complex. There’s a print friendly version. See here for more.
Climbing Apps: Climbing apps are still sort of new in Canada and many of them are working out the kinks. Sloper Climbing is an author-based app. Guidebook authors (often the most knowledgeable about local climbing) like Chris Perry and Kevin McLane enter in their information from their best-selling guidebooks.
Will Gadd’s new Ice and Mixed app combines the ice and mixed climbing guidebooks of Western Canada into one digital version. Information is still being added, but it will soon be the go-to for winter climbing.
Conditions Sites This might seem old-school, but conditions sites are often moderated by local climbers and can be more easily searched than social media.
ACC, Guides and Guidebooks: Before you go relying on quick answers from social media, go to the experts. There are climbing guides in nearly every province in Canada and they are there to help. Your safety and knowledge about an ice climbing is worth the cost of hiring a guide for a day.
Guidebooks are still big business in Canada. There are printed guidebooks for most of the winter areas. Some of them are out of print, but can be found at the local library or by asking around town. They’re full of valuable information.
The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) has been offering introductory courses and seminars for decades. Find your local section and touch base with them. Being a member of the club is how many ice climbers get started. More here.