Well, Paul has written the last chapter so all that remains is the Epilogue for this holiday, one of the best and most enjoyable ice trips yet.
I had been knackered and limping since end of first week, following the epic walk in to the Black Mount, a wilderness within a wilderness.
Paul had lasted a bit longer but breaking trail through fresh, deep and unpredictable snow on the ‘Stanley Major’ effort finally did his back in.
That night, we both hobbled back from the Drake with the implicit agreement this was the end. After all, we’d been out every single day for 2 weeks, albeit some days were shorter than others.
So next day, we completed the final, and most important, chore of the holiday….return of the ’empties’.
Rick told us before we came to Canada that we should bring our rock shoes so he could show us his new ‘secret’ winter sun crag.
Rick Felber is one half of the ‘Bulky Boys’ duo (the other being Trevor Jones), a team who were prolific new routers in the ghost river wilderness during the late 1990s. Rick has climbed very few routes that are not of his own authorship.
Towards the end of our first week, the weather was turning warm and this seemed the ideal time to explore Rick’s new crag. We were sworn to secrecy but the crag is somewhere in Kananaskis, between the TransCanada HW and Montana.
Here you see Terry following Rick’s route, ‘Rusty Chains’, 5.8
The weird cloud effect is the remnant of the ‘Chinook’, a front that brings warm weather (‘eater of snows’) from the west.
Rick pointed Paul up his fierce little double overhanging problem, ‘Double Trouble’, 5.10, of which Paul made mincemeat.
Paul pulls over the second overhand.
The Kananaskis equivalent of chocolate cake at Shepherd’s crag, Nachos and beer in Kananaskis village after the climbing. Terry, Paul and Rick.
We’d never been so late before and were unsure as to what we might find. Val greeted us with dire warnings avalanches and forebodings of death. Everett explained more scientifically that the weird temperatures had resulted in desiccation of moisture from the deep snow layers with deposition in the top layers, effectively leading to slab on powder and consequent instability.
Well, at least the rabbits were still in town. This one has lived outside Terry’s place for 2 years now, a record for survival against the predatory Kyotes who come to town for dinner periodically.
A trip down Kananaskis confirmed the deep snow pack. Just look at the avalanche slopes subtending ‘Kidd Falls’, Mount Kidd.
We visited ‘Wedge Smears’ that day and Val sends her regards to all.
Later that week, we visited King’s Creek and found this route in superb condition, with glass-hard ice. We speculated that Pete would have gone for the smear on the right.
Marj likewise sends greetings from top of ‘Coire Dubh’ (not the integral). Nice view of Yamnuska in background.
Paul finds a nice ‘Scottish’ route at Junkyards…
…Val follows up
Field was in suspect condition so we carried on to Emerald lake….
‘Hamilton Falls’, Field, BC….’ Hmmm, will it or won’t it?’
Paul makes short work of Massey’s, pitch 1…
…..and pitch 3. Marj was just ahead.