Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Canadian Rockies Ice March 2020

In March of 2020 I had one last day to climb in the Canadian Rockies. I soloed the moderate classic route "The Professor Falls" near Banff. In the short videos I speak about some technical aspects of gear and mental aspects of soloing

The approach to the climb was about an hour of flat walking. The majority of the approach is on asphalt roads that go through a golf course (which is closed in the winter). Many climbers choose to use mountain bikes to make the approach a bit faster. Once you leave the golf course, you walk along the Bow River through the woods and passing under the famous "Trophy Wall" that holds the landmark climbs "The Replicant", "The Terminator" and "Sea of Vapours". It was comfortably cold with clearing clouds that had deposited about 10cm of new snow. 

I am using the current edition of Petzl's "Nomic" ice tools. I girth hitch the tethers through the slots in the handles as these points are stronger than the holes in the spike of the tools. First you can girth hitch the tool handles then girth hitch the other end of the tether through the belay loop on your harness by bringing the lower attachment loop over the pick and head of the tool. Now you have attached the tools directly to your harness without any carabiners or swivels that may form a weak link in your system.

Dialling in your equipment and systems is vitally important in all forms of ice and mixed climbing. The quality and performance of your equipment and material makes a huge difference in your both your level of climbing and safety. I started using Petzl "Laser Light" aluminium ice screws two seasons ago. The screws are very fast to place because they bite very aggressively in the ice. When there is a higher level of water in the ice, the screws can be 'sticky' and hard to turn. The best way to deal with this is to back the screw out a half turn or so and then spin the screw in. The weight of the screws are noticeably lighter on your harness. Most advantageous is the fact that you can place the screws in pre-existing holes from steel ice screws. The tubes of the aluminium screws are larger in diameter and the threads will set securely in a pre-existing hole from a steel ice screw.