OverviewThe Rick Blak Memorial Route is a fantastic ice climb that was named in honor of a Jasper resident who was tragically killed in a caving incident. It does not always form although it seems to have appeared more regularly over the last several years. When formed it provides a stellar 40 metre stretch of ice, that works its way through varied terrain and thin sections of ice. Protection can at times be challenging (bring your stubbies), but the climbing is rarely desperate. Rather this route is quite cerebral as you are forced to balance, stem and thoughtfully work your way through several crux sections before arriving at the chains.
This is a great alternative or a nice addition to the classic grade 4 route Shades of Beauty which forms about 75-100 metres left of the Rick Blak Memorial Route or Stanley Falls Senior which forms directly accross the valley. With an early start it is not unreasonable to aim for the "Beauty Creek Hat Trick" and climb all 3 routes.
This route is one of the finest lines of ice I have been lucky enough to climb and if it continues to form up reguarly it will likely become a more popular climbing destination.
Getting ThereBeauty Creek Ice Climbs you need to park 2 km south of the Beauty Creek Hostel.
From Jasper turn south onto Hwy 93 and follow it for about 86 km past the Beauty Creek Hostel to the parking lot for all the Climbs.
Google Map From Jasper
From Lake Louise follow Hwy 93 north for about 140 km.
Google Map From Lake Louise
The ApproachShades of Beauty.
From the parking lot walk directly across the creek to the old roadbed. Follow this old road south (right) for about 500-600 m. Watch for a trail breaking off left up and into the trees and follow this. You will follow Beauty Creek on the climber's left for about 30-45 min. Shades of Beauty. The trail occassionally follows along the creek, but most often continues to follow along the left side. Continue up this valley for another 15-20 min. Eventually the trail will vear right into the trees and so begins the 15-20 minutes grunt up to the base of the climb. Unlike Stanley Falls Senior, you will not likely be breaking trail, but it is steep and somewhat unrelenting. You will come to a small rock bluff where most people will gear up before the last grunt up to Shades of Beauty. At this point you head right and will likely be breaking trail up to the base of the Rick Blak Memorial Route. About 75-105 minutes.
If you are combining this route with Shades of Beauty you can traverse right from the base of the third pitch of Shades. You will be forced into an improbable looking chute that is exposed but can be easily downclimbed. A rope would not be inapporpriate for climbers not comfortable with either the exposure or downclimbing ice.
Climb a short 15 metre step of grade 3 ice and establish a sheltered belay to the left of the base of the upper seam of ice.
The next 40 metres follow a thin seam of ice through several steep and occassionally thin sections. There is a chain station at about halfway that can be clipped for protection just as you work through a 60 cm wide section of ice. At about 30 metres the ice widens and eventually kicks back to some grade 3 steps before topping out at the chain anchors.
In really thin years rock gear might be necessary.
DescentRappel from the chain anchors. Their is an intermediate station at about the midpoint of the second pitch, but it is likely easier to trail a second rope and rappel a full 60 metres which will easily deposit you below the base of pitch one.
External LinksThere are two great websites for ice conditions in the Canadian Rockies:
Live The Vision - Ice Conditions.