The upper part of this route sees a tonne of sun, so an early season attempt is wise. We were turned away our first time up due to deteriorating ice conditions.
The lower pitches through the gully are enough to keep things interesting if there is no snow, but they certainly do not add to the quality of the route. The route is 465 metres long with the only about 100 metres of sustained climbing. The gully ice does not always form leaving an unbroken slog up the trees to the right of the gully.
As this route and Knuckle Gnasher across the valley see less frequent traffic, you will find the beta in Joe Josephson's guide Ice Climbs in the Canadian Rockies is not all that accurate.
Google Map Grande Cache to the Parking Area
ApproachFrom the parking area cross the highway and head straight up the steep bank and follow the top of this bank to your right essentially parallel to the road until you hit the drainage. Work your way up the drainage until you reach the first small grade 2 step of ice.
If these bottom pitches are not formed you are faced with the daunting task of gaining the close to 500 metres to the upper amphitheatre via a steep and unrelenting grunt through the trees on the right side of the gully.
Continue up the drainage to another 10 metres of grade 2-3 ice.
Work your way up the drainage from atop this last pitch and you will come to a small hidden rock amphitheatre with a blob of ice trying to touch down. Mix route oppotunities? We have never seen this ice touch down, but it will be a wild 15 metres of ice when it does.
You will now be in full view of the amazing ice in the upper amphitheatre. There seems to be about 3 lines that form with the most difficult being the 100 m pillar to the left. Choose your line and enjoy the ride. There seems to be obvious belay ledges just above halfway for most of the climbs. The obvious pillar is spectacular and if it is in shape it is highly recommended. Sustained and vertical.
DescentRappel the Upper Pitches off of trees and the ice. March downhill to the skier's left back to the highway. This again is often steep frozen turf and is nicely forgotten by the time you hit the car.
Essential GearStandard Ice Rack and a V-Thread hook with Cordelette.
External LinksThere are two great websites for ice conditions in the Canadian Rockies:
Live The Vision - Ice Conditions.
Additions and Corrections[ Post an Addition or Correction ]