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Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk

Page Type: Route

Location: Canada, North America

Lat/Lon: 52.13370°N / 116.46229°W

Object Title: Kitty Hawk

Route Type: Ice Climbing

Season: Winter

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Grade 5

Number of Pitches: 5

Grade: III

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes


Page By: GCutforth

Created/Edited: Dec 7, 2010 / Dec 14, 2010

Object ID: 683515

Hits: 7203 

Page Score: 78.27%  - 9 Votes 

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Kitty Hawk - 2008
Upper Pitches - Kitty Hawk
In his Waterfall Ice - Ice Climbs in the Canadian Rockies, Joe Josephson describes this climb as "Simply the best David Thompson route, Kitty Hawk is a classic with an ambiance similar to Polar Circus or The Sorcerer." The first ascent in 1980 was mired in a series of minor epics including a name-insiring leader fall on the final pitch of the first attempt, an improvised rescue, several false starts, and finally a successful rope solo and 26 stitches.

This climb forms consistently
year to year but conditions may vary significantly. It is a solid grade 5 climb but this too can vary with the conditions. Be aware of the significant avalanche terrain above this climb.  
The Approach - Kitty Hawk
The Approach

You can expect challenging climbing in a majestic setting with this Canadian Rockies Gem.

Getting There

Kitty Hawk is situated in the furthest right of the three main gullies on Elliot Peak which is just south of the Cline River Bridge. Park about 4 km south of the bridge in an obvious pull out. The climb is obvious from the road.

Google Map from Icefields Parkway

Google Map from Nordegg
The Approach Pitches - Kitty Hawk
Pitch 1-2

As the route is visible from the highway it is wise to site your desitination prior to starting off. A climber's trail is likely given the popularity of this route. There is a drainage creek to guide your way in the event there is no preset trail. In typical winter conditions you can expect a 60-90 minute hike over moderate terrain to the base of the climb.

Route Description

Pitch 1-2:

The first 90-100 m is low angle ice and snow with steps of ice up to grade 3. Based on your comfort level you may choose to rope up or solo this terrain which will bring you to the base of the steeper ice above.
A Bold Lead - Kitty Hawk - 2008
Nearing the top of Pitch 3

Pitch 3:

The next 60 metres of grade 4 ice brings you to the base of the crux pitch. This pitch can form in very thin conditions making this a very delicate and cerebral pitch to lead.

Pitch 4:

The crux pitch involves a steep section of technical mushrooms that leads into a steep and sustained pillar. The pitch ends in a series of steep steps. 50 m.

Pitch 5:

The final pitch of grade 3 ice brings you to the top of the climb and views of stunning but avalanche prone terrain above. 30 m.
Leading Out Pitch 2 - Kitty Hawk 2008
Crux Pitch


There is a pin and bolt station to the climber's right of the top pitch.

The next 2 rappels are off of ice stations that will bring you back to the base of the steep ice.

Downclimb a ways to the final rappel station on the climber's right of the canyon.

Essential Gear

Spindrift Avalanche - Kitty Hawk 2008
Spindrift Avalanche on the Descent
A standard ice rack and set of draws. 60 m ropes.

External Links

There are two great websites for ice conditions in the Canadian Rockies:



Live The Vision - Ice Conditions.


Topping Out Pitch 2 - Kitty Hawk 2008Leading Out Pitch 2 - Kitty Hawk 2008Looking Down Pitch 1 - Kitty HawkIn the Midst of the Nasties - Kitty Hawk 2008Spindrift Avalanche - Kitty Hawk 2008Kitty Hawk - 2008Kitty Hawk and Unicorn
The Approach Pitches - Kitty HawkA Bold Lead - Kitty Hawk - 2008The Approach - Kitty HawkKitty Hawk