Home > Profiles

The Massive Ice Routes on Tangle Ridge in the Rockies

The 10-pitch Undertow V WI6 first climbed nine years ago has been forming in November 2019

Three huge ice routes on Tangle Ridge that were first climbed in 2010 seem to be forming this year. In mid-April 2010, Steve Holeczi, Jay Mills and Mike Verway climbed the 120-metre WI4 Shades of Beauty on the Icefields Parkway before walking for a couple more hours to a campsite at the foot of the cliffs.

The three top climbers made the first ascent of Undertow, a 600-metre V WI6. It followed 10 pitches of ice to a serac. On his blog, Mills called Undertow “the longest continuous piece of ice we had ever climbed. Probably about twice as much real climbing as Polar Circus, significantly harder, and no big snow slopes en route.”

Word got around about the new route and a number of climbers went for a repeat, including Kris Irwin and the late Jiro Kurihara. One week later, Dana Ruddy and Ian Welsted made the long approach early one morning and repeated Undertow. With them were Raphael Slawinski and Eamonn Walsh, climbed a new route to the right.

The called it Boobquake, a 10-pitch M5 WI4+. Slawinski described it as “never desperate but always entertaining.” The name refers to a rally that took place shortly before the first ascent. The rally was to protest news reports of controversial beliefs espoused by Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi, an Islamic religious authority in Iran. Seddiqi blamed women who dress immodestly for causing earthquakes.

The late Jiro Kurihara on Undertow Photo Kris Irwin

Slawinski and Walsh returned the following weekend, along with Simon Parsons for a third line. It featured a fragile dagger midway. After several moderate pitches, Slawinski was able to aid across overhanging rock to its left to preplace some protection pitons, and then redpoint the traverse to reach solid ice. They called the big M6 WI5+ Can’t Touch This.


The following week, Slawinski climbed Undertow and said, “It is without a doubt one of the finest ice climbs in the Rockies.”

From the left: Undertow, Can’t Touch This and Boobquake Photo Raphael Slawinski