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Power Shrimp is Wild New Ice Line at Helmcken

Helmcken Falls in B.C. is one of the most wild ice climbing areas in Canada. The area become well-known after Will Gadd and Tim Emmett established a number of lines with varying partners over the years.

The rarely-formed wall of spray ice is home to some of the steepest pure ice lines in the world.

The up-to-200-metre routes are so steep and climb such bizarre ice that they’re almost totally bolt protected.

The last major new route to go up was by world-class climbers Klemen Premrl and Tim Emmett in February 2016 and is called Interstellar Spice.

Grades at Helmcken almost don’t even matter, everything is considered in a league of its own.

Canmore-based Gadd and Sarah Hueniken recently spent some time up at Helmcken and ran into European climbers Thomas Senf, Dani Arnold and their partner Martin.

The three Europeans established a new route called Power Shrimp, which follows a major traverse across big features.

Gadd and Hueniken then attempted the exposed route, which Hueniken recounts below.

Climbing is a fine line between confidence and competence and only you as the climber, know where you lie on the spectrum at each moment in the game. Helmcken truly brings this to light….Making the fragile dance across these huge ice stalactites that somehow stay suspended, knowing that a whip between the sparse bolts would mean becoming a human wrecking ball with the huge shrapnel now above you with gravity on its side, trusting unknown tool placements in questionable spray ice, trying not to pull out, trying to stay calm, trying to believe… oh, and then there’s the constant roar of the waterfall behind you… Eventually, my brain could not endure the potential of the unknown and I bailed. I hate bailing to fear, to a lack of confidence. The question afterward is always: would the reward or the consequence be better or worse then the regret??? A question we all face when we take the sharp end in this sport at any level. What I do know is this was likely one of the coolest routes I’ve ever had the opportunity to climb and I know that it will haunt me to leave it unfinished. Who’s coming back with me??:) I also know I’m super fortunate to have had the opportunity, and to have watched Dani Arnold and @realwillgadd Send it, and to be safe and sound back home. Perspectives change and shift, fear is a part of our DNA, managing our successes and our weaknesses is a constant learning… @outdoorresearch @scarpana @sterlingrope @petzl_official @1hotchillys

A post shared by Sarah Hueniken (@huens) on

Gadd said that climbing in Helmcken is the big-wave surfing of the ice climbing world, “but if you want that you’ll find it there.”

After his climb of Power Shrimp, Gadd said, “This morning we went back into to strip ropes and take a last try on the route he was calling Power Shrimp, and with some blown muscles and tired mind I found enough grit in the mental sandpaper to hang onto to the end.

“I’d call it one of the best ice routes I’ve ever done.”

There’s still plenty of winter left in Canada and we’ve likely not seen the last of the new-routing.

The best thing about climbing is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Sport, trad, alpine, ice, social, bouldering, the options are unlimited. And yet just when you think you’ve got it all figured out it’ll buck you off and throw a righteous kick to the belay loop of your understanding. We’ve spent the last five days at Helmcken Falls learning how to protect the natural ice, testing the new Reactors, and taking some startlingly long falls. A place that once felt so far over the top that @timemmett and I didn’t know if we could even climb there is more and more understandable, and cool. It’s still the big-wave surfing of the ice climbing world, but if you want that you’ll find it there. This place is undoubtedly the craziest ice climbing on the planet, and a really tough environment that teaches everyone who visits lessons in hazard recognition and insane fun. We also ran into Dani Arnold, most recently well-known for a fast solo lap up the classic Swiss route Beta Blocker, along with his partner Martin and the image master Thomas Senf. We worked on our gear evolution theories, they worked on a rad new line that traverses the coolest ice features this year. Dani took some whips but sent in a proud effort, and the stoke was good. Late yesterday and today @huens and I did battle with it. I pitched off while clipping near the end of the route, and took a solid 40 footer. After so much super techno gear climbing it was really fun to try Danni’s route, but even the bolt-protected routes at Helmcken are no sport routes, bring your A game. This morning we went back into to strip ropes and take a last try on the route he was calling “Power Shrimp,” and with some blown muscles and tired mind I found enough grit in the mental sandpaper to hang onto to the end. I’d call it one of the best ice routes I’ve ever done, thanks Dani, Martin and Thomas! @huens did battle, but Helmcken is like an attack dog—show a crack in the mental armour and it’ll drop an icicle through it. After my whippers and the tenuous climbing @huens had sensibly had enough, but still tried, and that’s another great thing about climbing.. @redbullcanada @arcteryx @blackdiamond @scarpana @sterling

A post shared by Will Gadd (@realwillgadd) on

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