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This Film About a Rockies 230-metre M8 is One of the Best

Cryophobia has become a test-piece mixed route for Canadian Rockies winter climbers

An ascent of the classic Cryophobia was featured in the film Higher Ground, a production where Chris Alstrin was worked as a videographer. “Higher Ground is my first feature climbing film I shot on the classic DVX100 and 16mm film back in 2003,” Alstrin said.

“This series of shorts will basically be the entire 90-minute film broken down into chapters. This first chapter is titled Cryophobia, a classic and very difficult mixed route in the Canadian Rockies put up by Sean Isaac and Shawn Huisman.”

Cryophobia is one of Canada’s best multi-pitch mixed routs. First climbed in 2001 by Shawn Huisman and Sean Isaac, the huge bolted line in the Waiparous Creek area of the Ghost near Calgary is a must-try and sees ascents most winters. It offers hard and sustained climbing on overhanging rock and vertical ice. The pitches are mostly around 30 metres with little rope drag. If you’re looking for a big day in the mountains, link it up with its neighbour Hydrophobia WI6.


Pitch one: Up the ice WI3 50m.
Pitch two: Up ice blobs and seams to a hard traverse M7+ 30m.
Pitch three: Move left to big roofs on good rock and pull the crux to the ice curtain M8 30m.
Pitch four: Through a bulge on solid placements and up an overhanging wall to a station M7 30m.
Pitch five: Move left to a steep wall on nice holds and up through the ice M7+ 30m.
Pitch six: Up the fun ice to above the steep section WI5+ 30m.
Pitch seven: Up the ice to the top WI4+ 35m.
Gear: Small rack to lessen run-outs, draws and a 70-metre rope.
Descent: Rappel the route.

Cryophobia from Higher Ground

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