Ice climbing road trip
Ok. Here it goes.
We had few things on our mind. First of all we were going to climb route called Nine WI6, 85m, the day after climb Polar Circus WI5, 700m and then something nice and easy on the last day…so 3 days road trip in all. We packed our shit and left Golden early in the morning. Canada has endless roads so in about 2.5 hours we found our selves under the route Nine.
Unfortunately, it had been really sunny for many many days and the big pillar had melted a lot and big part was missing at the base since we looked at it a month ago. Not knowing what to do we headed for Weeping Wall to make the most of the day. After climbing the 3 pitches of the lower part, we thought that we might as well climb the upper part, a long strenuous 3 pitch long WI6 route called Weeping Pillar. Weeping Wall is in the sun for most of the day so the ice gets quite baked after a while. I looked up and thought: This looks alright, there is not that much ice falling down and it´s not that wet. Foolish. Starting the pitch in steep slush of ice and pushing ice screws in the ice. It began to feel unpleasant. Bad protections I can handle, I thought, but soon as the ice bombardment from above started I started to have different thoughts. Maybe this is not a good idea, again I ignored my foolish thoughts and kept on going step by step. About 40m into the first pitch I was looking down to Danni and got hit heavily in the back of my head below the helmet. This was it, I went down as quickly as possible and we literally ran down. The ice bombardment was getting so heavy that is was like 2nd world war and the Germans were flying over and dropping ice bombs all over the place. Well, it´s better to be a baler then a dead hero we agreed. Down safely to the car after a good rest day for Polar Circus.
The only thing to do was find a place to sleep and make dinner. The rope was really frozen and most of the stuff wet after the day so decided to try out the Rampart Creek hostel on icefields parkway. Apparently it´s only closed on Mondays so the only thing that waited for 5 tired people was the 3.5sqm platform at the back of our car. It fits perfectly if everyone lies on their side and only if you don´t move at all for the whole night.
Dinner was made on msr stoves with regular car fuel, pasta with mushrooms and bacon…mmm, I guess I´m getting too used to the pasta! Smoothly it went down and we went to sleep. We slept like babies although it was really tight and a lot of spooning needed. That might only be because the valve of the stove was leaking during the night and there was terrible fuel smell in the car.
Polar Circus WI5, 700m
Many many dead braincells later me and Danni woke up at 0500 to get ready for the climb. Melting snow and getting stuffed with oatmeal we got everything we needed. A short walk up to the route, enough to warm you up. Beautiful still weather, clear sky with stars and moonlight…how romantic weather to climb this sexy route. Crampons on and now it begins. We quickly soloed the first pitches, up to WI4 and after that the rope was involved. Polar Circus offers grate 700 vertical meters of climbing with 500m of ice up in the air. I use to have 60m rope and it happened every then and again that I needed those extra 10 meters to finish so I decided to treat me a 70m rope. After climbing and climbing we finally reached the final crux pitches. For the people that know me I have a big problem with sweaty feet and they tend to get really cold because my shoes get so wet that they lose their insulation. But no worries, I came prepared and bought those fancy toe warmers. With numb toes I looked forward to those. I threw them in and already got warm and tingly in my mind. After an hour of climbing, still with cold and numb toes I angrily threw them out again. Instead I spent quit amount of time with my shoes of trying to bring my toes back to life. And yes, miracles still happen and they got warm again.
Looking up and thinking, dam this thing is big. We have been climbing our asses off and it just keeps on coming, still four pitches left. This is where the 70m rope fits right in. It´s so convenient, instead of climbing 4 pitches you can climb it in two pitches. To safe time we agreed to make it a quick climb in two long pitches.
The first part was really wet. Steep ice formed like candles hanging down form micro mushrooms and impossible to protect. After that there was good ice all the way up.Fully stretched strenuous 70m of steep ice and we found our selves under the last two pitches of the rout. Shit, it looks really long. Do you think its only 70m said Danni? Sure, and if I cant reach the top you just start climbing. Deal. This is going to be run out I though, with only 9 ice screws for the lead and making a belay at the top…I climbed away.
The ice was really good for a concrete to be. Hammering and hammering the hard packed plastered Canadian ice I was getting closer and closer to the top. This is really long way to go on steep and hard ice like this, I´m getting a little bit tired I thought. Well, it´s a good exercise, lets make the most out of it. Finally the rope was finished and I was 70m up the route…but still not at the top. I waited for a bit and Danni started to give out slack, ok he´s climbing. I kept on going for 10m more and I conquered the monster in 30min total. Danni came up in 40min and we lived happily ever after. But wait, the climbing is not over until your back home again. Like all climbers know, abseiling is the boring part of climbing and we were high up which means that we had a lot of boring abseiling on our minds. It went fast and smooth and 9 hours car to car we were drinking beerand on the way to our next stop: the famous Eddie burgers in Banff. Next stop, relaxing at the Banff hot spring and then some more beer. After thinking shortly about where to stay for the night the choice was obvious. It was either loosing more braincells in the car, have frozen ropes and wet stuff the day after or…spend a little bit more money and stay at a hotel. Hotel it is.
Louise Falls WI 4+to WI 5
There is nothing better than waking up in a cheap hotel that is under renovation, lying in an old and hard bed. Well, it was a damn good bed when I went to sleep. After some breakfast and Star Bucks coffee we were on the road again and heading for Louis Falls. 20min walk over the frozen lake we started the climb, Me, Ingvar and Rannveig. Danni had a busted knee from the day before, he got hit by a big chunk of ice. Easier first pitch, about 60m, then moving on to curtain of ice and up steep pillar to the top. Rannveig did a really good job on her 3rd ice climb of her life and up she went. Happy to go home after 3 good days of climbing we headed to Golden in the toxic car. Everything smelled like gas, our clothes, sleeping bags and our food. The first thing we did in Golden was to vacuum the car, scrub the interior and empty whole can of air freshener in it.