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So Cold that a Window Shattered and a New Ontario Ice Climb

The new line follow three moderate pitches up M4 WI4 terrain in Orient Bay

Photo by: Brent Elliott of Laura Duncan

If you’re an ice or mixed climber then you’ve likely heard of, or visited, Orient Bay on the northern tip of Lake Superior in northwestern Ontario. That’s where two climbers have just opened a fun looking three-pitch ice/mixed climb

Brent Elliott and Laura Duncan made the first ascent of the 85-metre Shattered Glass M4 WI4 on Feb. 26, noting that it was confirmed to be a new climb after checking with longtime locals Wes Bender and Aric Fishman.

Shattered Glass topo by Brent Elliott

Why the name Shattered Glass? “We were racked up to climb this two days before when a friend walked up from the parking and said our window was broken,” said Elliott. “I guess the cold temps made it shatter. The name was also in line with the cold temps we climbed in all week.” Temps were dipping down to -40C at night in February.
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While it’s easy to think someone broke the window, Elliott said, “Nothing moved inside, there were no other tracks in the snow, and my coat and wallet hadn’t moved. If it was a person they could have grabbed the gps through the broken window, which all made us conclude it was the cold.”
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When asked if he’d heard of windows shattering in the cold, Elliott said, “I didn’t have any first hand stories, but we mentioned this to a cop (filled a police report in case we used insurance) and he said he’s had two explode in the cold. The owner of the hotel we stayed in said she had it happen.”
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Shattered Glass starts 10 metre to the left of the three-pitch Don’t Panic WI4 in the Ice Palace area. The first pitch is a 35-metre M4, described by Elliott climbs “the mixed corner to some thin ice. Mostly protected by rock gear (placed two screws at the end). Blades and angles were useful, cams tips to red camalot. End at a huge cedar that overhangs the cliff, or continue up and belay from screws.”
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The second pitch follows 20 metres of WI3+ up a flow with several options. The final pitch is a 30-metre WI4, described as “a fun runnel of ice in the corner. Steep for a few body lengths, then bulgy ice into a gully to the trees.”
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There’s still another few weeks of winter in northwestern Ontario, so if anyone’s looking for some early spring swings head to Orient Bay.
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Brent Elliott on pitch one. Photo by Laura Duncan
Brent Elliott on pitch two. Photo by Laura Duncan
Brent Elliott on pitch three. Photo by Laura Duncan
Cold-smashed window. Photo by Brent Elliott
Lead photo: Brent Elliott of Laura Duncan