Yamnuska Guides are passionate about what they do. When not working Yamnuska Mountain Adventure (YMA) Guides get out and enjoy the mountains, we explore and seek out new ground! Takeshi Tani is a tour guide with Yamnusks Mountain Tours, the Japanese sister company to YMA and also an ACMG guide in training. Takeshi has completed his ACMG apprentice rock guide course this past summer and is now preparing for his guide training ice course held in the Rockies in the new year.
“Tak” has been doing tonnes of practicums and despite his already high level of skill and experience has truly demonstrated his dedication to learning as much as he can about the realities of winter climbing in the Canadian Rockies.
With an already elaborate resume of climbing experiences: Japan, the Alps, Nepal, Alaska and now the Rockies, this adventurer will make a fine addition to the Yamnuska climbing guide family when he has completed his certification.
On December 22nd, we headed out for a little first ascent action of the traditional mixed climbing kind. Our destination, Opal Creek in Kananaskis Country, home to the world classic ice route, Whiteman Falls.
This location is one of my favorite zones for traditionally protected crag mixed climbing in the entire range. The potential is incredible with so many more classic lines to do still.
On our trip we focused on two new lines, Yamagirl and a short but stout line we called Ice Jam.
Most of the lines in the area that I have made first ascents of required little cleaning or prep, I simply walked up to the base with my partners and climbed the lines using natural removable protection to manage fall hazard.
But Yamagirl was a different beast, located beside a route called Dirty Eleven an M5+ route I established, ground up, a few weeks ago with fellow Alpinist Ian Welsted. The route Yamagirl, named after a quirky Japanese fashion subculture (its direct translation means mountain girl), needed cleaning. I had not set an anchor at the top of Dirty eleven yet and in doing so with Tak we decided to rap our intended new line and clean off the most obvious loose blocks and place some protection bolts and some fixed protection with the use of a powerdrill. The route currently requires both protection systems, quickdraws for the bolts and some clean removable protection to protect the sections of the climb that accept natural removable gear.
This was Takeshi’s first go at a first ascent ever! He did a fine job, climbing the delicate ground avoiding the pitfalls of this type of mixed terrain.
We also set a new line near the mouth of the canyon, currently one of the more challenging pitches of the area, Ice Jam M7 5.10/5.11. What the line lacks in length it makes up with challenge. The line ascends an overhanging finger crack to widening fist crack. The crack was reached via powerful technical moves up a short overhanging corner and a small delicate smear of brittle ice. The feet are constantly bad until the upper frozen mossy section is reached.
Once established in the burly crack system the route protects exceptionally well all the way to the fixed anchor. We cleared an extensive amount of loose flaky rock from the first part of this classic line so that more people can enjoy it.
The climb is a perfect expression of winter climbing, using hands and tools as required to stay on and make the top. Great fun Takeshi and good luck on your guides course!
Patrick Delaney, Yamnuska Mountain Adventures Guide