After two days of picking up the basics with Grant Meekins on the Ice Evolution course, Toni and Chris were teamed up with me for their multi-pitch day. With an early start we began our walk up Evan Thomas Creek in Kananaskis to the classic grade 4 ice route, Moonlight. We shared the walk with Joe and Jen, who were also on the Ice Evolution, with their guide John Freeman. Good conversation and a nice pace made the early morning hour and a half approach pass quickly.
As Moonlight came into view, the thin strip of ice looked to be in great shape and would be a good challenge for Toni and Chris’s new skills. Toni had ice climbed before but this was Chris’s third day. They were both psyched for the climb.
After gearing up I lead the first pitch which was thin to start and then became thicker and steeper with a few mushroom features near the top. I finished the pitch in a smaller than expected cave at about 50 meters up. Chris’s newly learned technique from the 2 days before moved him to the upper belay with only slightly pumped arms and good technique. Toni was up next and she used her previous experience of climbing the man made ice wall in Winnipeg and the coaching she got from Grant in the past two days to clean the pitch and arrive at the belay in good style.
Unfortunately, the belay cave was only big enough for one. This meant that Chris and Toni were left in a semi hanging stance. Chris was able to squeeze into the cave after I began the next pitch. There were no complaints and both of them trusted the anchor as I delicately climbed the short but steep next pitch!
After the semi rest for Chris and Toni they seconded the pitch one at a time to reach a much more comfortable stance on the left side of the frozen waterfall. A final 30 meter pitch of wet plastic ice put us at the top of the route 110 meters up. A fantastic effort by both Chris and Toni on the route! Two rappels brought us back to the ground for high fives and a repack of the bags for the walk out and the completion of a fun day.
The multi-pitch ice climbing day is a huge confidence and skills booster for any new ice climber and a testament to what someone can do after only two days of instruction.
Jesse de Montigny
Yamnuska Mountain Adventures
Want to book a trip with Jesse, click here