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Ice Climbing Weekly Update #9: Southern Ontario and Rockies

Huge new routes in the Canadian Rockies as southern Ontario finally sees some ice form

Ontario is a big province with nearly 2,000 kilometres between ice climbs up north and down south. While the northwest, with Orient Bay, Thunder Bay and Kama Bay, have many climbs, the deep south around Toronto has been too warm to freeze waterfalls.

However, this past week saw sub-zero temps which froze Hamilton’s Lower Princess Falls for at least 24 hours. A photo posted to the Ontario Ice Climber Forum had locals hoping it would remain frozen throughout the weekend, but the rainy weather all but melted the climb.

Matt Westllake, Ontario and Rockies climbers has reported about Bancroft ice and said that it’s coming along with Bow Lake now frozen solid enough to walk across. Eagles Nest routes are also forming: Roller Coaster WI2 is in, but Dirty Harry M4 WI4 is well dirty, wet and not in. At Papineau Lake Sideroad: Consolation Prize WI3 is in, Clip and Go M5 is in, Spector M5 is in and Naked Soul is in.

Matt Westlake at Papineau Lake Sideroad

Farther north, ice in the Algoma area is good to go with big routes like Solo Menagerie WI5 110m formed. Local ice guide Shaun Parent has been reporting about countless lines forming in the backcountry up to 100 metres. Longtime Ontario climber Steve Charlton is currently climbing with Parent and possibly opening new routes, more next week.

The Quebec ice season is game on with dozens of climbs formed in the province, such as routes at Lac Sylvère, Gros Bras, Sérénité, Mastigouche and Parc National des Hautes Gorges de la Rivière Malbaie.

Three new routes were climbed 50 km north of Godbout: Molet bleu WI3 45m, Sphaigne alors WI4 80m and Un coup rendu là WI5 80m.

Solo Menagerie WI5 Photo Steve Charlton

The West

Ice climbs in the Canadian Rockies have been formed for over two months, with over a dozen big new routes climbed and all of the classics seeing laps. Avalanche conditions are currently bad in the alpine and ice climbers are reminded to check avalanche conditions here and to bring avi gear when heading into avalanche-prone terrain. Scroll down to watch an avalanche on Bourgeau Left WI5 on Dec. 19.

If you do climb a route with high avalanche hazard, it’s probably a good idea to keep it to yourself and not share on conditions forums. Less experienced climbers might take it as a sign that it’s safe, without knowing about avalanche hazard.

Raphael Slawinski established two big new routes in December, one being the most difficult route on the Stanley Headwall. While he hasn’t named it yet, it’s a 150-metre M8/9 WI5. Look for a full route report in the next issue of Gripped magazine.

Slawinski and Juan Henriquez also established The Hand of God M7 WI5 135m on Mount Murchison this month. Slawinski said: “This route climbs the obvious dagger a few hundred metres left of Cosmic Messenger. It’s been suggested that it might’ve been climbed in the nineties by Serge Angelucci, but we didn’t find any evidence of previous traffic. If it were indeed climbed back then, it’d be an impressive and futuristic ascent, before M-climbing and power drills.”

Vancouver Island and the west coast from Vancouver to Pemberton has been very warm this past week and few climbable ice routes have formed. Some things are “in” high in the alpine, but with high avalanche risks above treeline, it’s probably a better idea to go bouldering in Squamish.

The Hand of God Photo Raphael Slawinski


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Past reports: Ice weekly #1Ice weekly #2Ice weekly #3Ice weekly #4Ice weekly #5Ice Weekly #6Ice Weekly #7, Ice Weekly #8