Canada-Canmore start of the ice season 2014/15
The first time my ice tool bit into the freshly formed ice of this years´s season felt like I´ve never stopped ice climbing..and in a way that was true: my Cobras never have seen a long rest, and the small summer period in between was already fading in my mind. The ice did not feel alien in any way, the climb on the Jorasses with it´s many ice parts were still strongly alive.
But what did made it feel like real winter was the biting cold around me. The sun was still hours away from rising and my fingers and limbs were numb of that pungent cold air I was breathing in with every move.The thermometer at the car had shown -27°C !
Matthias was next to me together with Steve Swenson.
We had left Canmore early this morning heeding direction Icefieldsparkway.
Although it was still early in the season we decided to check out Murchison- and what we found here was a stunning beauty of thin ice in the lower pitches and unconnected brittle front layers of ice in the upper part, which made the climbing interesting. We did not encounter any other traces and enjoyed a wonderful long day out there.
Our initial ice of the season was climbed! It was the 12th of November 2014.
Another epic day out there in the Canadien Rockies dawned on November 16th. The temperatures has settled around -22 °C degree and Steve was again in the team, eager to test his injured hands on ice. Our goal for the day was Stanely Headwall: there was not much formed except one thin line: Nemesis!
Matthias had already climbed this mystical line five years ago. My twin sister Heike had climbed it in this winter, too in a total snow storm. I had not yet climbed it and was pretty eager to seize the opportunity this year. Matthias encouraged me to go for it. It was still thin but by nearer investigation in the state of calculable risk. I was not worried about the climbing- but of the protection!
The climb turned out to be delicate but extreme fun. The ice was thick enough for good tool placements in the first pitch and climbing demanded extreme precision. However, building a belay for Steve and Matthias was another thing: I did my best equalizing three 13 cm screws in thin, air- filled cornflower ice and felt not comfortable with that...but what else was to do, even a full rack could not do a job, when the nearby rock held no options for friends or nuts. I let them investigate the settlement closely, we managed one abalakov and then decided: we would do with that and I would continue.
Climbing the next pitch was dealing with brittle steep ice.
Pitch three and four were steep but the ice was getting better!
A huge thanx for Matthias and Steve who seemed to pass the
time with a never ebbing conversation and heartbreaking encouragement. Thanx again! Nothing is more helpful than good teammates! They are in fact the key to a committing climb.
Temperatures dropped even lower in the course of the second half of november.
We enjoyed one epic climb of ‘Whiteman Falls’ with temperatures around minus 27°C and after a huge snowfalls.
‘Carlsberg’ in early season conditions and very cold temperatures,and a number of icefalls around Field. A particular interesting climb became ‘Guinnes Gully’ in Field, which we climbed together with Raffael Slawinski on 30th November: temperatures dropped beneath minus 30 degrees and made this day special, beneath the fact of getting to know another legendary canadian climber.
An other outstanding adventure became climbing in the Ghost valley once again.
The drive in was a thing I would not have believed possible: blocked once again in a huge snow drift and shoveling free some meters of an endlessly ongoing snow road I thought it would be best (and safer) to give up and spare the car and our nerves. But Steve (Swenson) did a great job once again and showed incredible resistance and driving skills, making this trip further into the Ghost possible.
The legendary river crossings in plastic sacs (yes we used the same cool ones from last season!) followed combined with a long bush walking. This time so we navigated with the Ambit3 peak to find the ‘Sorcerer’. The waypoints recorded into the watch via Google Maps the day before navigated us perfectly through the woods.
Climbing this four pitch long ice fall was epic. The ice was very hard due to the cold temperatures and it took some effort to get the picks in. On the same time it was brittle, demanding constant care if being trustworthy.
Looking around at the top of the fall provided once again an otherworldly beauty. The air was cold and pure and the as far as the eye could reach there was nothing than wilderness.
I took it all in with every breath, locking it up safely somewhere inside me, so it could be a source of beauty and peace to drink from in times of need.
Soon it would be the time to leave back to good old battlefield Europe.