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For the Tick-List: The Snake WI4 in Ontario

It's one of the best long pitches at the grade in all of Ontario

Photo by: Juan M. Angel

The Snake is a classic 45-metre WI4 found on Patterson Lake north of Parry Sound in Ontario. It forms every year, provides a steep finish up a fun pillar and offers excellent views.

There’s no first ascent information for The Snake, but many believe it was first climbed in the 1980s when many of the area’s ice climbs were being discovered. There are at least two other climbs nearby: Looking Like Elvis WI5 40m and Anaconda WI3 30m.

Patterson Lake is less than four hours north of Toronto, so it’s more accessible than the dozens of amazing climbs around Montreal River north of Sault Ste. Marie. To get to the climb, park in the lot at the south end of Patterson Lake and follow the south shore for one-kilometre to your right until you come across the climbs.

Below is a 2021 video from Juan M. Angel of Marco Foladore on The Snake in nice conditions. Angel sent us the following from Foladore about Ontario ice climbing:

The Southern Ontario climbing scene has exploded in recent years and we in the north are seeing many “Southerners” venturing up this way. The route development in the north is another thing that has been exploding lately. New routes and areas have been discovered and are being developed and word is out on the street, this is fantastic. Though exploring, establishing and developing is incredibly gratifying, exhilarating and just plain old fun, the north also offers the rediscovering of routes and areas that are of by gone days in the Ontario climbing scene and that are now coming to the forefront of the new community.

The Snake is one of those climbs. It is undocumented as to when it was discovered and climbed for the first time but is now seeing more visits as our community grows and people are venturing further from the busy and crammed usual hot spots. We slid into the Snake last weekend and were pleasantly surprised to see its condition as it was. Generally a late season destination it was in fine form. The bottom was leaning as it usually does and the upper section which generally throws a steeper section to it’s conquerers gifted the climbers with a gentler finish. The morning was -18 and made for a cold start and hard ice but by early afternoon a pleasant -4 showed up to ease us into our afternoon climbing. There are three established climbs there, we also climbed Looking’ Like Elvis, but I did notice a few other mixed and ice lines that would go. This is shaping up to be a great ice season, once lock down is over.

Ontario has some amazing ice climbing, so be sure to explore it this winter.

The Snake

For the Tick-List

Crime of the Century 5.11c in Squamish
Gooseberry 5.8 in Banff
Pennylane 5.9 in Squamish
Exasperator 5.10c in Squamish
Sunshine Crack 5.11 in the Bugaboos
Five Val-David routes in Quebec
Northeast Face 5.6 of Ha Ling in Canmore
Slab Alley 5.9 in Squamish 
The Colossus 5.11 and Titon Crack 5.10 in Ontario
Bottom Line 5.12 in Skaha
Les Grands Galets 5.12d at Cap Trinité, Quebec
Polar Circus WI5 700m in Rockies
The Monument 5.12a Trad in Ontario
The Scottish Gully WI2 100m in Canmore

Lead photo: Juan M. Angel