February 17 – 19, 2018
It was a cold, dark morning when we met Yam’s guide Patrick Delaney, at the start of the three-day Rampart Creek Ice Camp. We were six clients from parts of Alberta, Toronto and Oregon, keen for instruction or to finesse our current ice climbing skills.
Day 1: We drove up the Icefields Parkway to Tangle Falls, a broad wall of ice with a very short approach. Setting up three lines, Patrick offered feedback and coaching as we took turns on the top ropes. This also gave him an opportunity to assess the best way to match climber abilities for the following day’s multipitch climbs. For some of us, this was the first day on ice this season, so it was a good way to shake out the cobwebs and limber up on our skills.
Day 2: The exciting and thrilling multipitch day! Two additional Yam ice guides, Erica Roles and Larry Shiu, joined us as three rope teams fanned out to different destinations. Patrick, Laura and Steve headed for MeltOut, while Larry, Ed and Bibiana drove out to Nothing But the Breast on David Thompson Highway. Erica’s team of Tamlyn and Margaret drove north to the Weeping Wall, destined for Snivelling Gully.
Even though the temps were frigid (-22C), we were fortunate to have a bright, sunny day, which helped to create the illusion of “solar warmth”. Once we reconvened back at the hostel for dinner, there was animated conversation about the highlights of our respective climbs.
Day 3: I checked the thermometer on my way into the dining building, and my eyes just about popped when I read -35C! No wonder the trip to the outhouse at 2 am was excruciatingly uncomfortable! Given these extreme temperatures (and potential hazards of frostbite), Patrick formulated a sensible “Plan B” and suggested we drive back to Canmore where the temps were a balmy -24C. We spent the afternoon at the Junkyards, finessing our skills and gaining mileage on ice.
What I liked most about this ice climbing sport camp was the leadership and professionalism provided by Yam guide Patrick Delaney. He ensured that safety was a priority at all times; he checked in with each of us individually to ensure we were benefiting from his instruction and coaching; he was flexible in creating alternative options when extreme weather conditions necessitated a “Plan B”.
The Rampart Creek Hostel is ideally situated on the Icefields Parkway to give us access to classic routes both on the Parkway, and the David Thompson Highway. The hostel is well maintained and managed, and thoughtfully provided foam toilet seat covers in the outhouse to prevent “bum cheek burn”!
I highly recommend this three-day camp if you’re looking to bring your ice climbing skills up to the next level. The multi-day format means we build on learning from one day to the next. Having a Yam guide at all times means we are getting top notch coaching and instruction.
Of course, if I could change one thing, I’d ask for slightly warmer temps, but, as Bibiana C. said, “You can’t buy the weather – it is what it is!”
Thank you YMA for organizing an excellent camp, and special thanks to Yam guides Patrick Delaney, Erica Roles and Larry Shiu for their leadership.
by Margaret Imai-Compton