With the recent arrival to Canada of my partner Matt also came all my ice climbing equipment such as crampons, helmet, ice screws and my new set of DMM Apex axes. I was of course very happy to see Matt but finally I could get out on some Canadian waterfall ice.
So the next time I had some days off, one of them was reserved for our first ice climbing trip in Canada. I've got to admit I have been very lucky with my house mates here in Golden B.C. One of them is also called Matt and it turns out he is just as into climbing and mountaineering as we are, actually more. He also has a fair bit of experience ice climbing and has been living in the area for a few years. So the three of us hatched a plan to head to Tangle creek falls.
Tangle creek falls is a three hour drive from Golden, in the UK we wouldn't really consider driving that for a day trip, it's more of weekend distance. Here in Canada we have had to adjust to the size of this country and how far apart everything is. So at 6am we left out little cabin and headed out towards Jasper, AB. It is beautiful drive along the Ice Fields Parkway, made even better by the slowly rising sun.
We were all super psyched to get there and get on the ice. The night before we had done a lot of prep, mostly revolving around food. We had made ourselves two mini pizzas each, from scratch, sort of and we brought car chips (crisps), fruit and some snack bars. We also spent time organising our rack and deciding on what layering system we were going to wear.
All this prep meant that when we jumped out of the truck in the parking lot, we were ready to walk straight to the ice. Matt had told us that it would be about a 10 min walk in which I was pretty happy with. When we stepped out of the truck however we realised that 10 min was an big over estimate.
Can you spot the Crag?
It took us less than 5 minutes to get to the bottom of the ice. We quickly set up camp, as it were, then took a look around and decided what lines would be best to get rid of the rust on.
I should say at this point that it has been a bit of time since I sunk axes into decent névé snow let alone ice. Last winter I had some rather unsuccessful trips to Scotland, I always seemed to time it with the warm periods. So have I mentioned how excited I was to get on waterfall ice! Super excited in case you didn't realise.
My house mate Matt lead up to start. He rigged the top so we could top rope it if we wanted to, get our eye in, sounds like a sensible idea.
Just to be clear my partner Matt was belaying out of shot in this photo.
Of course I didn't want to top rope to start of with, I had lead some ice before, a couple of years ago, I wanted to lead. So I stepped up to lead, swung my new axes into the ice and got my self up to the first ice screw, clipped in and then decided this not such a good idea. I got lowered to the floor. Sadly my excitement to get up was far larger than my current skill level on ice. I wasn't disappointed because I knew as soon as I lent back it was the right call. No point getting stupid scared and possibly injured on my first ice route in a long time.
My partner Matt lead up instead, it has been the same amount of time for him since last climbing on ice but he has a little bit more experience than me over all on it. He bossed it out and re-set up the rope into a top rope.
We spent the rest of the day playing around on the top ropes and sharpening up out skills. House mate Matt lead another route so that we could re-set the top rope. It was a quick learning curve for me due to Matts coaching.
We left the crag around 4pm feeling very satisfied with how the day had gone. I was very happy with my new DMM Apex axes, all our skills were de-rusted and out desire to get out again was strong.
We are hoping to do a few more days like this, leading easy grade 2/3 routes, top roping some harder routes. Once we are all feeling solid our plan is to start doing some easy multi-pitch routes. Bring on the ice!!