After rather late start today (aided by the time change last night, the clock went an hour forward) we followed the plan setup yesterday and got on Route 93, up north, towards Jasper, and to take, after some 100km, David Thompson Hwy. Along that route, some 25km from the turn there supposed to be some nice climbing.
Long tough drive on its own. However, after just few km it was clear that we won’t be able to travel efficiently there. The road was in terrible condition, covered with snow and ice. Seems like it wasn’t plowed in a while.
Without chains we’d risk getting stuck (unfortunately car rental place didn’t have an option to add chains. Our attempts to acquire them in Canmore last week were also unsuccessful. Even our extra expensive road side assistance would be no good here, as that far north there is barely any mobile coverage.
After few km we decided to execute plan B – go back and turn west back to Kicking Horse Canyon. There was another piece of ice just few hundred meters down from where we were yesterday. Upon closer research yesterday we’ve discovered that it must be the Riverview (making our yesterday’s climb on Pretty Nuts wall).
This was mostly because today’s climbing access description matched what we’ve seen – Park on the side of the motorway some 1.5h past Kicking Horse Rest Area, walk down under the bridge and follow the railway tracks for some 200m. Then walk up 50m snow slope to the base of the climb.
PG actually dropped us of just at the bridge walk off and went to park the car. That allowed us to get head start and make up some time.
Just a note on access – technically it is illegal to access that climb, since walking along the tracks is considered trespassing on Rail Canada property. Fortunately there is unwritten understanding between two parties and so far everyone has been happy. Just be careful not to trigger avalanche triggers Rail Canada has setup in that area, and obviously don’t get run over by a train!
By the time PG joined us Lar was 1/3rd up of pitch one. He chose the middle lane, not the easiest by any means. Definitely a solid WI4 grade. On top of that it turned out to be 60m long (although in my opinion, since he was belaying of screws anyway, it was perfectly fine to belay at 40m, where communication was still possible). PG and I promptly followed. Since I was on leader’s right rope I got to undo all (but 1) screws on the way up. So hard work with many stops.
I must say that when we arrived to the belay station, despite only 2 layers of clothing on, I was wet from sweat. Temperatures on this south facing climb was definitely around 0C.
P2 was my time to lead. Fun aspects of swapping leads I guess!
It was definitely much easier (WI3), but not much shorter line with fun start, but pretty rotten top part.
By the time I run some 35m there were few options to take. I could go around melted pillar to a tree belay on the right, some 10-12m to the right, or belay of screws to the left. Since I got only 1 left I decided to go for fixed belay on the right. It actually required some sketchy traversing over rocks and ground, since the entire right side was gone. At the time I thought that to be the best option, however it didn’t really turned out that way. More about it later.
Once I established tree belay (that doubled for abseil station) PG and Lar followed.
On the way up PG noticed that left hand side is actually in a pretty good shape and could make nice 3rd pitch.
That meant we’d have to traverse some 20m on very dodgy looking terrain.
P3 was definitely the steepest of all, but a bit shorter. PG took the rope for that and lead to a tree belay at the top. Unfortunately there is no picture of the ice itself, just Lar and I topping it out.
Going down was a bit of a chore, as the 60m from the top would take us to end of P1, which doesn’t really feature abseiling station. There is a tree to climber’s left, but it’s immediately over sharp rock – not ideal for 8.1mm ropes.
We’ve decided to build double, equalized Abalakov’s, backed up with an ice-screw, which I went off of first (as the heaviest of the bunch).
Lar went second and PG 3rd (without a backup) – after all he built it 😉
Quick walk back to the car and we were ready to fire up the old JETBOIL! Ah yeah, nothing better than a fresh brew at the end of the day.
Unfortunately PG noticed that one of his (or maybe it was Del’s?) ice tools head became loose. A bummer, but apparently a common occurrence. Not to worry though, he already found a new, better use for it.