Mt. Kidd, Canadian Rockies - Alberta, Canada
Would I like to climb Mount Kidd? You bet I'd like to climb Mount Kidd. Would I like to do so via a classic ice route? ABSOLUTELY! On Feb 21st, 2005, Jerry & I set out to climb the route A Bridge Too Far (300m Grade IV, WI4+) on Mt. Kidd. Although our objective was purely ice, I was indeed curious to see where the route topped out & if a summit ridge was attainable.
If I were to sum up the adventures of February 21st in a single word, "confirmation" comes to mind. The importance of reading the ice was confirmed. Trusting my judgment and intuition was confirmed. Jerry's experienced call to abort the climb confirmed my own judgment. One can never have too much fear and respect for climbing, whether it be rock, ice or mountains. All of the above was packaged and delivered at about 3:30 that day. When the ice that Jerry & I just backed off crashed to the ground like tons of glass, we knew, without a doubt, that we made the right choice.
Climbing in the Canadian Rockies had been good to us throughout the week. I'm not certain what typical weather patterns are like in this region, but we had been blessed day after day. With this, our days began to start a little later and last a little longer with each new day. That morning at the hostel had taken up a lot of time, as we ate a lazy breakfast and said our goodbye's to all the weekender's who were headed home after a holiday weekend. By the time we hit the trail, it was noon. By the time I tied in for the first lead of the day it was 1:00.
While gearing up for the climb, we marveled at the appearance of the ice, and the fact that it wasn't melting! The climb faced south and the sun was unmasked above a beautiful blue sky. I had my reservations about a late start on a southern facing ice climb. With this, I just hoped to get on it and get a read on the ice. If it took tools and protection, I'd continue. If not; I'd back down. My tools didn't have any problem sinking deep. My ice screws on the other hand, demanded excessive cleaning of rotten ice to reach anything solid. 12 or 13 meters up, I had enough. The ice simply wasn't getting better and I had a strong gut feeling to get down. "Jerry, I don't like it - I'm coming down" was all I could mutter after my 45 minute battle on this soft ice. I lowered off a pair of screws that probably equaled the strength of one good placement, at best.
Jerry, being the more experienced one, was our back-up for instances such as this. He quickly tied in to lead, and worked up to my high-point. I was silently relieved as he began to express his feelings of uneasiness as well. By the time he reached my last screws, he too, felt that the conditions weren't safe. Placing low screws and cleaning the high ones, he carefully down-climbed the route. By the time he reached my lowest placements, all it took was a tug on the rope to remove the screw! This climb was melting fast! When that screw popped out with a tug, we began to hurry. We needed to get off the route fast.
We managed to get off the route safely. Looking up, while packing gear, a steady fountain of water now spewed out of a hole left by an ice screw. It was no longer silent, as it was when we arrived. The term water-fall was beginning to better describe things. We made a hasty exit to the decent trail just in time to hear the eeriest, most hair-raising sound, that I never want to hear again. A huge curtain of ice had crashed to the ground exactly where we stood, just 20 minutes prior. The sound stopped both Jerry & I dead in our tracks. I looked up and thanked the Lord, while Jerry gripped a Buddhist prayer charm given to him by a friend. We were definitely watched over that afternoon.