A winter update from the Canadian Rockies

February 12, 2012 - 6:31pm

Just returned from a six day trip to the Canadian Rockies for some waterfall ice climbing.  Probably one of the best climbing trips I have ever done, as the routes were spectacular and the conditions were perfect.  While I was there, along with my housemate from Montana, we enjoyed sunny, warm days without wind and at night were lucky to have a bright moon reflecting light off of the pristine snow.  One really couldn't have asked for more.  In addition, all the climbs we wanted to do were fully formed and in good climbing condition.  I can't wait to return in a few months on my way back north to Seward!

We started the trip with a visit to the North Ghost River valley, a secluded region just east of Banff National Park.  After driving over 2 hours down a dirt road through deep snow drifts, over frozen rivers and thinking we were lost the whole time, we made it to our climb.  While it was a bit too warm that day and the (semi) frozen waterfall gave us a cold shower, it was a great introduction to ice climbing in Canada.

 

Next we headed to Banff National Park and some larger routes.  There we climbed classic routes such as the Weeping Wall and Professor Falls.  One day, after climbing over 1000 feet in the day, a meal of coffee and burgers got us motivated for more.  Lucky for us that night was a full moon.  We climbed Cascade Falls, high above the lights of Banff and the Trans-Canada Highway by moonlight (and headlamp) and it was definitely one of the most amazing experiences I've had climbing.

 

We finished up the trip by climbing a route named Polar Circus.  This climb was 9 pitches long with over 1600 vertical feet of ice climbing.  It was my longest and hardest ice climb to date, and a stunning route for sure.  This climb had been on my radar for a long time and it was great to finally be there with good conditions and have the opportunity to climb it.  We topped out just as the sun was setting and were treated with a fine sunset as we rappeled back down to the bottom.  A very fitting way to complete a great trip.  I can't wait to go back!