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Ice Climbing Weekly Update #3: New WI6 and Warm Temps

More new routes on Storm Creek Headwall as a Chinook warms the Rocky Mountains

Photo by: Nial Hamill of Smith & Wesson WI6 A0

In last week’s weekly update, we talked about big new routes in the Canadian Rockies, such as Goat Face Ice Line. The new-routing in the Rockies continued, despite a Chinook that melted many routes.

The weather will now be sub-zero for the next week, but routes like Curtain Call and Weeping Wall almost fully melted out. Polar circus had a signs of a big landslide/avalanche on the upper pitches.

Sebastian Taborszky, Jacob Dans and James Walter made the first ascent of Sleight of Hand, a 95-metre WI4+R, on the Storm Creek Headwall. The area has been getting the most attention of any in the Rockies this season. The first pitch is a 55-metre WI4R and the second is a 40-metre WI4+.

Also on Storm Creek Headwall, Taborszky and Niall Hamill made the first ascent of Smith & Wesson, a 125-metre WI6 A0. It’s one of the most stunning looking new routes climbed this year. Hamill said, “It’s one of the best drips of ice I’ve had the pleasure of climbing, and challenging too, with two separate pillars up top, super 3D, chandeliered and steep.”

The A0 refers to the bolted seven-metre rock section on the second pitch that they didn’t have time to free. They said it has six bolts and is likely M6. The first pitch is WI3 25m and the second is the 25-metre WI6 A0 pitch.

The third pitch is a 45-metre WI5+ and the final has side-by-side pillars. The right pillar is “Wesson,” a 30-metre WI6 and the left is “Smith,” a 25-metre WI5+. For gear, thry brought a full screw rack, single rock rack to #1 and nuts. Taborszky said, “We only used a green Totem cam and two medium nuts on first anchor, and purple cam off the bolted anchor at top to traverse into Wesson.”

Taborszky then teamed up with Jasmin Fauteux and Maarten van Haeren for a lap of Virtual Reality WI5/6 on Mount Murchison. Takeshi Tani and Jas Fauteux climbed the west face of Mount Andoromache via a 600-metre line called Route With No Name.

In the Bow Valley, the Playground and other dry-tooling crags on Grotto Mountain have been the centre of attention with a full parking lot every weekend this season. Photographer Amy Liu has been making regular trips to document the sends. Follow her below.

The Beer climbs near Field are yet to form up, but a few climbable lines are in, including Twisted and a nice three-pitch WI4 60 metres to the left.

North America

Warm fall temperatures persist in B.C., Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, so little if any ice has formed outside of the Canadian Rockies as of Nov. 7.

In the U.S., Climbers have been finding lines in Wyoming and Montana, but little has been reported. In New England, climbers made their way up Parasol Gully at Dixville Notch and at Open Book at Tuckerman Ravine.

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: Nial Hamill of Smith & Wesson WI6 A0