OverviewThis climb was the first Grade 6 climb in the Rockies in 1974, and despite having been re-graded to a 5 it still offers a great day of tool swinging. The line is highly aesthetic, unfolding in two tiers of two pitches each: The first a thin ribbon of ice flowing down a steep cliff; the second, a massive wall of undulating ice that will impress even the most jaded climber. A lot of people consider this to be one of the finest climbs in the Rockies.
The first ascent was epic. Tim Auger, George Homer and Rob Wood bivouacked at the base and then spent three days forcing the route after a previous team had retreated after 30 meters. The crux pitch was led in the dark with water soaking the climbers, threatening to freeze them to the route.
“Gloves froze to the straps of my axes,” Wood recalled. “Helmet was frozen to my hair and beard. Carabiners were frozen shut and had to be hammered open. Clothes cracked as I moved.”
The lead took three hours and was followed by a five hour bushwhack back to the parking lot. It's humbling to realize how much easier ice climbing has gotten over the years and what pioneering climbers went though to put up a great line. Beware of the avy danger.
ApproachNine kilometers west of Banff take the turnoff for Sunshine Village ski area and drive into the parking lot as far as you can go.
P2. WI4. Much like pitch 1 but shorter (pitches 1 and 2 can be linked together with a 70m rope).
Walk up the drainage to a belay cave on your left, the next two pitches are to the right.
P3. WI3. Rolling ice extends upward toward the obvious WI5 pillar, a mildly questionable bolt anchor can be found on the right, which may require some mixed climbing to reach. There may also be an anchor in a cave slightly lower.
P4. WI5. Short and steep, ends at a bolted anchor.
Rap the route. From the bottom of the first pitch you can avoid the ice steps by walking off skier’s left and making your way back to the approach track, alternatively there is a rappel station at the base of the pitch that can allow you to rappel the steps.