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Ice Climbing Weekly Update #7: Kama Bay, Festiglace and Rockies

Ice is being climbed in northern Ontario, new Rockies route and Fesstiglace is a go in 2021

Photo by: Patrick Martel of Icebreakers WI6 in Kama Bay

Some of Northern Ontario’s classic routes are starting to form along the shores of Lake Superior and beyond. Orient Bay and Kama Bay are parallel canyon’s north of Nipigon about 150 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.

The canyons have steep walls up to 100 metres with chimneys, cracks and canyons where ice forms. Kama has some of Ontario’s most stunning ice lines, many of which are nearly fully formed. Dr. Patrick Martel, a leading Ontario route developer, reported: “Kama Bay is forming up. Getting Oriented WI4+ looks OK, Icebreakers WI6 is reaching the ground but Icebreaker’s Arrete WI5 and Whimpsicle WI4 both still look really thin the from the road.” Mazukama Falls WI3-5 (Powerline Falls) is also formed.

In Orient Bay, a number of routes have been climbed, like Hully Gully WI2, Aqua Blue WI3 and Amy R WI2+. Other classic routes that are reported to be in are: Reflection Wall WI5, 10% Real WI5 and Obsession WI4.

In Quebec, warm temps have kept most areas from freezing, but some moderate lines at Parc-des-Grands-Jardins up to WI4 have been climbed, but are reportedly thin. In other provincial news, Festiglace reported that they’re going ahead this year with some changes to the competition. Read below.

Out west in the Rockies, Greg Barrett reported that there are new anchors for Oh Le Tabernac: “There are three new bolted anchors on the route: One is a replacement of an existing anchor directly above the route. There is a new anchor up on the right after you climb through the notch heading toward the bowl. When descending, a 35m rap from the anchor above the notch takes you to a broad ledge. Walk left across the ledge 10-15 feet, and there is a new anchor on a block at hip height. It may get covered in snow later season. It’s just above the existing anchor for Oo La La, which is in rough shape. Hardware is bolts and cord right now, it will be replaced with chain anchors at some point.”

In the Ghost, Fang and Fist WI5 is in, but Going to the Sun Highway WI5 isn’t. Many other Ghost routes have been climbed, like Wicked Wanda WI4+ and Good, Bad and Ugly WI4. Most routes in the Bow Valley are formed, from The Professor Falls WI4 to Spray Falls WI5 and Grotto Falls WI2.

The massive classic ice route on Mount Quadra called Gimme Shelter VI WI6 has formed, but no ascents have been recorded this year. Riptide VI WI6 on Mount Patterson is also formed and fat.

Bourgeau Left WI5 near Sunshine ski resort has been climbed a number of times. Nick Baggaley reported: “Good ice conditions on the lower half, thick enough for 17cm screws. Upper half was spicy with slush on the WI3 pitch and bands of snice between good ice on the crux pillar. Snow conditions were ok… fat wind slab over facets was forming below the route so I expect the upper bowl to be the same.” He added a report to the Mountain Info Network (MIN) with Avalanche Canada here (ice climbers in avi terrain should add reports at the end of their day).

Also added to the MIN was an ascent of Icicle Fairy, a 90-metre M6 WI4+, on the Icefields Parkway here.

Along the Trans Canada between Golden and Lake Louise, climbs are reported: Lady Killer – no ice, Pretty nuts – grey ice pretty thin, Essondale – grey and thin, Asylum – the ice is forming, Fine Line – fat, Casino Waterfall – ice is hanging, Green Gully – second pitch is fat, Field – lot of ice, Ross Lake Headwall – lot of ice, The tease in Paradis Valley – looks good.

The Stanley Headwall has been getting a lot of action this past week with a number of climbers getting up Nemesis WI6. Visit here for a list of every route on the Stanley Headwall.

Storm Creek Headwall has been less busy, but still some climbers are heading in. Surprise Attack is a new two-pitch M6 WI3 by Seb Taborszky, Jean Peloquin and Dylan Cunningham. The name? “Seb was ambushed by a grouse on the way out which was highly entertaining.”

The West Coast’s warm spell has melted most of the ice that was starting to form, but it’s been great for rock climbing in Squamish and Skaha. The Canadian Rockies from Calgary to Field are still the best place to find fat ice this year in Canada.

ACC Workshops

In preparation of the winter season the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) is offering a series of workshops on Wednesday evenings. In accordance with current health concerns, the workshops will be livestreamed on YouTube.

The workshops will be presented by Doug Latimer, the ACC’s lead winter guide. The program will be about 45 minutes in length and is then open for participants to ask questions via live chat. Everyone is welcome. Visit here for more info.


Ice Tools: Seven of the best for this winter
Sleeping Pads: Best new pads reviewed
Sleeping Bags: The ultimate review
Camping Stoves: Six of the newest stoves reviewed

Ice Climbing for Beginners: Don’t Ever Fall
Ice Climbing for Beginners: Avalanche Beacons and Recco Tech

Past reports: Ice weekly #1Ice weekly #2Ice weekly #3Ice weekly #4Ice weekly #5, Ice Weekly #6

Lead photo: Patrick Martel of Icebreakers WI6 in Kama Bay