Carly had a business trip to Calgary recently and I took the chance to get a weekend of ice climbing near Canmore. Carly flew up Wednesday morning and I joined on Thursday evening. I worked remotely from the hotel Friday. After a little snafu with the rental car (I didn’t realize what time the office closed) we finally headed west to Canmore to meet Case. Saturday morning we headed north on the Icefields Parkway. Unfortunately, we had snafu #2 and realized after getting about 80% of the way there that we didn’t have any ropes. Doh! Luckily we were able to salvage the day with some cragging near Canmore at Grotto Falls. Strangely enough we ran into KP and Derick from BD. It was nice to catch up with them and to share ropes on the short but interesting climbing there. To round out the day Carly lead Grotto Falls (WI3), a solid lead for her!
Sunday we double and triple checked our gear and rope scenario and headed north once again to Murchinson Falls (WI4-5) on the Icefields Parkway. The temps were once again cold, on the way I saw the car read -20 C (-4 F). Chilly! Mercifully, there was almost no wind and the day warmed up. The route is 4 pitches and is about 1:15 walk on a well beaten track. After winding through the dense conifer forest the first glimpse of the climb was had. It was a monster of a bluest of blue flows. Certainly stubby screws weren’t necessary!
We’d joined up with a friend of Case’s so for the first 3 pitches we climbed as two independent parties. Carly and I took the left and Case and Kylie the right side. After some rolling terrain and some great cave belays we eventually joined up at the base of the 4th pitch. We had to wait out the party of 3 in front of us, but after that we fired off the last pitch. It was a long (65m) and steep one. The frigid temps had made for some brittle sections. While we had a bit of shelling for Carly, Kylie and myself while following we all made it out without injury. While most of the day had been sunny and comfortable for ice climbing, as soon as the three of us started up the last pitch the sun became obscured and the wind picked up a little. It never got full-on, but it did get chilly.
Nevertheless, the climb was fantastic, thanks to Jeremy for the recommendation! The weekend definitely piqued my interest in getting more time up in Canada for ice climbing. This trip worked out the logistics a bit and I can see more trips next year.