Canada – Day 13 – Haffner Creek

We’ve decided that since we are all tired, and the guys still want to check out Polar Circus  (800m, WI5, Grade V) before we go home on Sunday, we’ll take the next few days very easy, hence the choice of Haffner Creek.

It  is located in Kootenay National Park near Banff. It’s about 45 minutes drive from Canmore. It’s best known for its mixed routes as well as some good single lines pitch in WI3-WI5 range .

The drive was pretty nice, with some amazing scenery. Once we arrived at the car park, near Marble Canyon Campsite (google maps 51.185835, -116.121336), we started our walk.

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It’s worth noting that the best way to approach it is to go straight across the road from the car park (as seen on above picture), there is a fantastic boot pack.

Don’t try to cross the bridge (100m north from car park) and use that trail – it’s at least knees deep snow, and you’ll just add 25mins to your walk…

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Anyway – the guidebook wasn’t very clear on that, and we learned our lesson the hard way. There was so much snow, that the road signs were almost entirely covered.

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Also reminder: this is a bear country, and local rules should be respected:

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There are fresh enough animal footprints everywhere.

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And they are quite too big for squirrel’s.

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After good 25mins of unnecessary fight with deep snow through camping site trail (it closes in Sept and that’s it) …

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… we finally merged with what we would be on, should we just went and check for the trail across the road from the parking:

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Del approves now:

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Almost there:

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There it is!

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Upon arriving to the crag, it was even more obvious that there won’t be much climbing today (which is exactly what we wanted) and since nobody wanted to blunt their axes and crampons on the mixed routes (all bolted, between M5 and M11) we’ve settled on enjoying the ice we found.

We’ve met a group of local climbers who were doing laps on the most left side ice pillar. They must have done it 5 or more times each. Good for them 😉

We’ve also found what looked like bear lair, with bear hair in it and all:

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Luckily its tenant wasn’t around.

The time has come to lead steep ice though (all the previous leads I did, even though long, weren’t near as steep as today’s ice).

Del quickly assumed the role of belayer. He wasn’t in a mood to do much today.

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I racked up and went off. We didn’t find route description in the guidebook, nor I’ve seen anyone climb it before – so I’m glad to say – on-sight ascent!

The local guide told me later this was a WI4 route. Certainly felt like it (although it was a bit picked already).

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After few meters I joined the group of ‘screw droppers’, but we wont be dwelling too much on this:

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The climb must go on:

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Efficient rope management wasn’t Del’s strong skill today:

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Almost there:

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The top out is kind of awkward. There is no belay directly at the top of this climb. Basically after the steep part ends just walk to the left for 5-6m to two bolts.

Del went second. I should mention here, that this was his day-off and the only reason he actually went up on something was to test his brand new pair of Petzl Lynx campons, he purchased the day before.

It’s a good idea to put in directional screw at the top so the ropes are not dragging across. (unfortunately I didn’t do it – mainly due to the fact that I didn’t bring enough with me 😉

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Del didn’t bother to take the gear out – leaving Padriac on what we now call “sport’s ice climbing”.

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I went again after Padriac to clean it, we took a short lunch break and started looking at the route that was previously occupied by the other group. It was so picked, that it was impossible to put any protection. Del went 3m and turned around – mainly because he’s saving himself for Polar Circus.

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P. went at it with style. I don’t know why I even held the rope:

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Belay bolts to the left. I jumped on the rope and completed what would be my final climb of the trip:

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We quickly packed up and followed the boot pack to the car. This time, we are going to use the correct path:

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Which will take us straight to the car… Walk is less than 20 mins…

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Final victory photo:

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To summarize: very Rjukan-like day, short (for Canada) drive, easy walking (if you know where to go) – and no climbing drama. Exactly what you need for and end of the trip day.

As I mentioned before – if ‘the stars will align’ in the right way – we’ll have one more trip report, but more about it on Saturday.

For me though the climbing is over. I’ve achieved all my goals and targets  I had (I might write  about it more in a separate update) and I’m glad that I can relax now for the remaining 2 days – until our big flight home on Sunday evening.

– and since its St. Patrick’s Day – we are planning on few pits in our local pub.

Sláinte!

 

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