March 14th – 22nd/09 – Ice Climbing in the Bow Valley and up in Jasper National Park.
“Crunch, crunch, crunch… RIIIIP!” – yet another hole in the pants. Learning to walk with crampons was one of the many skills learnt in the ice climbing section that kicked off our 3-month Mountaineering Skills Semester this spring of 2009.
From Junkyard to Haffner Creek, Canmore to Rampart, along with a couple of secret locals, and ultra pumpy, climbing spots (don’t worry, we won’t tell!), Yamnuska taught us the serenity and savageness that seem to go hand in hand with ice climbing techniques. Overdosing on lactic acid in the forearms, and tripping out on the icefall’s mind games, we were sure to climb by the most crucial and essential rule; “You don’t fall on ice”.
As time passed during this 9-day section, we gathered more skills to our arsenal. Simple belaying techniques, anchor settings, multi pitch systems, and (mock) lead climbing were but some of the valuable skills taught by our rockin’ ice guides, Mike Stuart and Jesse DeMontigne.
The temperature rose moving us to “mixed” climbing arenas. Mixed climbing is using crampons and tools while transitioning from ice to rock, and then sometimes back to ice again. This increased the difficulty by multiplying the movements on ice and rock… try making a knee drop with crampons on!Three months later, the first of June, the weather has finally risen to a balmy 19 degrees Celsius, bringing a much-delayed spring to Canmore. As much as we love the heat, we can’t wait for it to drop back down, freezing the waterfalls, bringing back our Ice Land of Adventures!
By: Sophie F. Nielsen & Adam Tittley