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Ice Climbing Weekly Update #2: Big New Rockies Routes

Storm Creek Headwall continues to be at the centre of the early-season action

Photo by: Peter Hoang on the FA of Goat Face Ice Line

In last week’s weekly update, we talked about how an early season cold snap in the Canadian Rockies resulted in a number of classic climbs being formes, such as Kidd Falls and Amadeus.

Over the past seven days in the Rockies, a number of big new ice and mixed routes have been climbed and more classics have formed. Despite above-freezing daytime temps, many of the north-facing routes remained frozen.

In the eastern Rockies, King’s Creek ice routes were climbed, but the approach ice into Whiteman Falls hadn’t totally formed. In Canmore, the Junkyards were fat but melted out by the end of the week.

A climber’s recon of the Ghost reported the road in excellent condition thanks to wildfire vehicles moving in and out. Matt Miezis said: “Real Big Drip is coming along. Joker looks in. Silver Tongue Devil is excreting witn a lot of H2O, just needs some subzero temps. Wicked Wanda is forming, looks sad though. Anorexia Nervosa looks good, maybe a bit thin Weathing Heights is thin.”

The six-pitch The Professor Falls WI4 was climbed this week, which is one of the earliest starts for this must-climb. Located near Banff, it ascends a gully system below the mighty Tropy Wall. Also formed near Banff are Bourgeau Left WI5 and Bourgeau Right WI4+.

In Protection Valley behind Castle Mountain, a number of early-season climbs are in, like Superdark. Protection Valley had a number of routes established in the 1990s up to 250 metres, including Mon Ami WI4+ Arian P’tit Grimlin WI6, Smothered Hope WI5 and Guinevere WI5R M4.

Over the last few years, there’s been a number of new routes added, including, Dirtbag Dreams WI4+, Safe Space M7R WI4, Grab the Cupcakes M6 WI4+, Roommate Romance M5 WI4, Smothered Hope WI5, Paradis Perdu WI5, The Wicked Witch of the West M6R/X WI6R, Superlight 5.10 WI5+ and Mix Fix M7.

Farther north, Oh Le Tabernac WI5 60m has formed for those looking for an early-season pump. Bow Falls and Polar Circus were both half-climbed, but climbers turned around due to conditions. Shades of Beauty was climbed in “spicy” conditions.

For those looking for a challenge, Rocket Man M7+ WI5+ 300m and Riptide WI6/7 220m on Mount Patterson both appear to be formed enough to climb.

The Beer climbs in Field had started to form, but no reports of ascents were made.

The John Lauchlan Award applications were opened this week, which means you can apply for cash to climb in Canada in 2021. Visit here to apply and learn more.

New Rockies Routes

Three big new climbs were done this week, one on Goat Mountain west of Calgary, and two on the Storm Creek Headwall.

On Oct. 22, Alik Berg, Peter Hoang and Dylan Cunningham made the first ascent of the 410-metre seven-pitch Goat Face Ice Line M5+ WI4 on Goat Mountain east of Canmore. It’s one of the biggest front range mixed routes to be climbed.

On Oct. 25, Takeshi Tani and Toshiyuki Yamada made the first ascent of Ichinen WI5+R M4, a new three-pitch 130-metre mixed route on the Storm Creek Headwall on Highway 93 South in the Canadian Rockies

On Oct. 28, Niall Hamill and Patrick Maguire climbed a new 130-metre M4 WI6 on Storm Creek Headwall called Fancy Feast.

The Storm Creek Headwall is one of the most popular early season ice climbing areas in the Rockies. Visit here for a topo and history by Jon Walsh.

North America

The B.C. interior mountains, Coast Mountains and island peaks were still too warm for ice to form. Likewise for Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, where temps have warmed up from freezing to be around 20°C in places.

In Central Ontario’s Agawa region, climbs were reported to be in, but many have melted out. In 2019, locals were swinging tools by Nov. 5.

In the U.S., Alan Cattabriga wrote about early season ice climbing in New England here and Aaron Mulkey gave an update on Wyoming and Montana ice. As temps continue to remain below freezing in the mountains, more and more ice will be forming over the upcoming weeks.

We’ll bring a weekly update throughout the season of new routes and conditions in Canada, the U.S.A. and from around the world.

Stay safe and have fun.


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Lead photo: Peter Hoang on the FA of Goat Face Ice Line