Trip & Conditions Report - Rockies Ice / Near Miss

Just back from a few days chasing climbable ice on the parkway with a couple of gems, Phil Widmer and Greg McKee. We spent a night at Rampart Creek after exploring routes in Haffner Creek, and in and around Field BC as well as further north up the Icefields Parkway. Climbed a bit, got scared a lot, and told lies with Ken - the custodian and fixture up at Rampart. All in all a beauty of an early season trip.

 

 

We put in a half day in Haffner monkeying around on the mixed lines there, but to sum it up; haven't seen that little ice at Haffner, well, ever. The flows in the main area are either not there on whole, thin, delaminated, or look prone to collapse. We poked our way up a few of the usual mixed lines in the main area and in all cases avoided the top outs by downclimbing back to the last bolt protection and lowering. Large volumes of running water for the most part had removed the strength of the connective ice at the top outs, at least on the routes we climbed. After doing this a few times, and after running out of maillions, we ran a few laps on the drytooling routes in the center of the main area. Despite our motivation, it  turns out warming up your season on M9 is actually kinda tough.  Haffner is going to need a few weeks.

 

 We thought a spin out to Field BC might be worth our while, but it also turned out to be a bust. Glad we went, but really just to reinforce the idea that the majority of the routes there are not really in any kind of climbable shape. Guinness Gulley, Carlsberg, Masseys, and Super Bok all had large sections of discontinous ice. Of all the lines, Twisted was showing the most promise and likely climbable with marginal protection. Probably won't be too long before that one is good to go assuming we see some consistent cold temps sometime soon. All in, not really worth the drive just yet.

 

 

Lastly, and worth passing on was the near miss of a party on Murchison Falls on Tuesday November 22nd. From some very brief info from the group, as well as from our own observations the following day, it appears as though a large piece of hangfire had collpased straffing most of the upper left side and lower route while they were only slightly removed from the fall line below. From our best guess, and when compared to the other overhead hazard the collapse likely contained what we guessed might have been at least few thousand kg's of ice. It's hard to say exactly what the trigger was, but likely a combination of warmer temperatures, and sun affect, along with an early season and weak ice structure. Worth considering if you're heading out this weekend given the forecast.

 

 

The conditions en route were challenging comparitive

to the norm. In an effort to stay away from a huge volume
of flowing water now cascading from the fracture site of
the above mentioned hangfire, we chose a line on the 
climbers right of the flow. Climbing this, the first pitch
protected fine, while the second pitch gave only fictional
protecton and unconsolidated ice. The third and fourth
pitchs were a combination of chandelliers, cauliflowers, 
the occasional overhanging bulge to pull through and
depending on the wind direction, a cold shower. It felt
like sections of grade 5, but for the most part likely still
in the 4/4+ range.

 

Head up out there this weekend!
Have fun, and catch you next week :)

 

Cloud Nine Guides.