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[TR] Banff NP Nov 23- 30 - 11/23/2013

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Trip: Banff NP Nov 23- 30 -


Date: 11/23/2013


Trip Report:

Jacob, Ryan and I spent the Thanksgiving week in Banff NP. The choice was between Red Rocks and Banff, ice this time. The entire trip was conceived as a warm-up for the upcoming season, so there wasn't much pressure. Despite the fears the ice season is in full swing over there and there are more quality routes in than any non-pro can do in a week.


We drove in on Saturday, babbled through crucial turns and ended up in Jasper, which allowed us to get some free Red Bull and take a look at the Slipstream, Curtain Call, Weeping Wall and Polar Circus.

Curtain Call has top and bottom thick but they were not yet connected.

Weeping Wall looked good, just thin on top of the lower wall, unclear about the top wall from the road at around 4PM.

Polar Circus was not huge and fat and because one cannot see all of the pitches, we did not know if there was a continuous line. We somehow missed Murchison Falls.


Arrived to the Night of Lies - http://nightoflies.com/ - at 7PM. Fun event to attend and make connections with locals. Steve Swenson was a presenter and gave us some ideas as to what’s in. Brent Peters helped out too. The new guidebook - http://www.peakstratagem.com/ - is super-awesome!!!!!


Posting pics is a shear nightmare, why is it so hard in 21st century? So just very few...


CAVEAT: any description is based on having 70m ropes, and we used them to the fullest, length that is, whenever possible. On Moonlight a party had to take a shower in a cave because they had 60-s and ran out of screws.


Started at the Haffner Creek. Great warm-up for the days ahead.



Next day went for K-country - Evan-Thomas Creek. We thought to have the entire place to ourselves, but ended up with up to 15 others, so could only do the Moonlight.



Ghost. Ghost River valley is indeed enchanted. Has this remote feel, it was windy but not miserable, warm, beautiful, tall, healthy looking rock walls. There is a thick rock routes book just for the Ghost! We climbed Sunshine and Aquarius to enter the Recital Hall. That place is magic, just like from some movie. That stoked me for the rest of the season! How could I have thought of quitting?! Unfortunately both flows were completely unclimbable, too wet. Pics don't show.








Rainbow Serpent



Fearful Symmetry





Recital Hall panoramic collage



There were doubts about the weather, so we skipped Whiteman Falls and went to... Bourgeau Left, which was in no shape to climb due to exposure and the sunny day. So managed just the first 70m pitch. The pitch was great, the climb in general - a big let down: crappy views, ski resort noises and sights. Shrug.

Bourgeau Right below,



Bourgeau Left.Ryan on First pitch




Jacon on second pitch. Third pitch was not safe, hanging snow.





Field was next, both Pilsner Pillar and Carlsberg Column were is good shape, little pro but plastic, non-scary ice. I mean, chandelliered beyond protection, but not as bad as could be (see further). I did not want to climb Pilsner as the first route, so we did Carlsberg. Unfortunately, that's all we could do with 3 people.


Pilsner and Carlsberg lines. Pilsner is a way better day - several long pitches.



Pilsner Pillar



Me on Carlsberg Column. This is pretty much a singe pitch affair, approach is a short 4 but a nice warmup, above is just a few WI3 steps.



Last day was the best. Best climb, in a Ghost-like setting, Kitty Hawk was the only full on WI5 we climbed. A beautiful climb, in a beautiful setting, with a really trad feel to it, felt completely vertical if not more. Ice was one with that liquid metal look, but rather brittle, and unprotectably thin on the first pitch.







Ryan led full 70m to the bolt, and only the last two screws would hold a fall, the rest were in detachable lenses, just pro for the head.









The narrow canyon did not allow to show the steepness of the second pitch, and foreshortening was atrocious, so no good pics. The ice was so brittle, that when I started following Ryan and in order to give Jacob some space went slightly left, both my feet and tools ripped through. It kept happening on the second pitch as well every time I was not careful. It was somewhat chandelliered too, but there was good pro. Huge dinner plates if careless, something you just don't encounter often on our wetter west side. No mushrooms to step on. I had to talk myself through on the relentless, pumpy sections.







Superb. Full value!


Unicorn is fully formed this year with ice connecting all the way!!! hopefully it will be there in February.


So that's it. If you want ice, Banff is the place. We stayed at the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge, excellent value. Hostel Bear was another choice, but the whirlpool and sauna won :) Canmore is a visibly yuppie town, with good cafes, actually good Thai (and Indian) restaurant(s), gear shops, 3 large grocery stores.


Anybody in for a week in February? Dreamlist: Recital Hall, Stanley Headwall, Terminator area, Weeping Wall.


Gear Notes:

Just before leaving I bought Seirus gloves for $70 - better than all brand names I have, or have tried. That's including Arcteryx.


The "dry" pick for Nomic works on ice far better than the "ice" one for everything: stick, remove, overall feel. I was surprised, but will try side by side more.


Use 70m ropes!


Approach Notes:

There was not much snow yet and we were totally fine in a 4Runner going to the Ghost. A Subaru Outback was there as well, don't know how it will change later in the season.

Everything else would have been just fine with a regular front-wheel.


Edited by Rafael_H

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nice raf! glad to see you got out there for a long trip! yeah kitty hawk is full on. rocky mountain has always been one of the decent places in canmore, nice basecamp.

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Great report! Thanks for sharing. Really personal for me, having been to all those climbs you described(although some of them quite a few years ago!).Looks like you had a busy and successful trip.

The Ghost is so amazing, and the Recital Hall defies words! Those climbs where always out of my reach, but certainly awesome to behold.

And Kiity Hawk- my pard to a full on whipper on the top of the second pitch, luckily it was steep enough to fall clean, an exciting day!

Thanks for the heads up on the new book also, gonna order a copy!

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"No mushrooms to step on. I had to talk myself through on the relentless, pumpy sections."


If by talk your self through you mean muttering profanities in 3 different languages! :) It was definitely STEEP!


Nice write up and great trip! With that list, might just have to join you in February!

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