Saturday, February 21, 2015

what it takes to be a "classic'

Recently a guest asked me what it takes to call an ice climb a classic. I try to explain it below with a water fall and it's yours to figure out which one it is...
Although for many a ice climber a very casual day out, it has been an adventure for this young man who just had his first multi pitch experience on ice. Like for so many climbers before, a grand introduction to the world of multi pitch ice climbing.
 The local favourite, fairly easy accessible by bike or a long flat walk, is one of the best choices for the moderate grade. Especially when temperatures are warm and other ever greens like Cascade and Rogans Gully have been melted away by the never-ending waves of Pinnapples and Chinooks. 
This climb is a classic for a reason, and the reason is that it's always there. From the end of October until the beginning of May, it delivers even through the most intense warm spells. Also, the ice on the path holds up against any physical laws, I'm always amazed about the skating rink quality of the ice puddles after a day of plus 10.
The one physical law though you might encounter first hand is the one of free fall, 
9.8m per second per second
Off the bike and into the weapons, might as well get used to them on the last 5min on the outflow of the falls.
The falls provide 6-8pitches of climbing, separated by a couple of short walks in between, with the crux on the last one. Bolted anchors on nice stances speed up the process and provide rappel options for 60m single ropes. There is also the option to walk off and it is recommended to do so in times of high traffic as a curtesy to the following climbers.
This is one of the few water fall ice climbs in the Rockies that can safely provide options for multiple parties if one respects a few basics. 
The upper part of the climb should be avoided at times of high avalanche hazard, at least once a season a big greaser spills over the last crux pitch and covers the gully below in house high debris.
A pretty stroll back to the bikes, with the right timing you can catch the happy hour and a well deserved pint at the St. James Gate.
Those are some of the ingredients needed for a climb to be classic, at least in my opinion.


KenC said...

Definitely a classic!

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