Ahh the glory of early season....Canadians have the luxury of climbing ice from October to April or May in a good year. Us non-Incredible Hulk, American types, get a few wily months in and we call it good. I would have to say that I'm not a natural born waterfall ice climber. My years of climbing have taken me through more of the Alpine Style ice, smooth couloirs choked with ice, if you're lucky, or snice (snow ice), or neive. Or mixed rock lines or crampon points teetering precariously on minute, granite edges, tools torked in small fissures, cams stuffed in ice choked cracks.
So...I agreed with Max that we would spend a few months in the Candian Rockies getting fit and strong, and me getting reaquainted with ice (if you look into the archives you will see early season ice from last year explaining my fall on ice two years ago). After a long summer of house renovations
feeling severely unfit, we made the trek to my car in Salt Lake City, Utah and drove North. We settled into our less than romantic, house, to be shared with a few local mice, a handful of dog food in the utensil drawr, an overflowing bathroom sink, a leaky bathtub, and then washed all the dishes in clorox bleach before daring to eat off them, unloaded our tools, ice screws, and bundles of kit and packed up to go play in the snow and ice.
After one day of mellow warm-up at the back of Lake Louise
, we headed up to the Trophy Wall, a huge North Facing wall just outside of Banff on Mount Rundle. The wall is full of gems, lusted over by locals, and visitors. I have always wanted to make my way up there.
We borrowed bikes from a friend and cycled as far down the road as possible
The 3 hour, 1000 m acent, approach was a long haul for me feeling desperately unfit! And, for the record biking in the snow on thin road tires is less than enjoyable.
The ice on The Replicant, was steep and featured, hooked out and fun climbing, but the snow kept falling and the wind picked up. So, we decided to bail, or maybe I convinced Max to bail. There was so much snow on the trail we ended up having to push our bikes most of the 5km back out that we had been able to ride in, NOT FUN!
A few days of drytooling at haffner creek and ice climbing on Carlsberg in Field, and we headed back up to the Trophy Wall.
This time feeling a bit more fit we woke up before light and headed in by headlamps. The snow had mostly been blown clear so the hiking was much more fun! Ok FUN is an overstatement, but not as painful.
This time we were going to try Terminator 2, the mixed start to the Terminator. Climb ice blobs to an anchor just below the daggar. From here Max traversed out onto mixed terrain, then hooked onto the scary looking dagger, and over onto the top of the hanging icicle. I luckily maanged to avoid barfing while watching. From there the climbing doesn't get any easier, steep steep, climbing, unprotectable, three fractures clean across the pilliar, freezing hands, cold temps, and windy weather coming in. It was a pump fest!!
I managed to make my way up behind him with out too much grace. We made it back to the forest before dark, and to the bikes with head lamps...Back home and could barely walk the next day!!