Shades of Beauty is 120+/- meters of III, WI 4 ice dripping down the north flank of Tangle Ridge. Tangle Ridge is located on the east side of the Columbia Icefield Parkway in Jasper National Park. Shades of Beauty has at least one published accident report .
The approach along Beauty Creek Trail is quite memorable. Although I have been to the summit of Tangle Ridge, I had yet to venture back along its north side. Beauty Creek Trail runs you along a deep canyon named Stanley Falls (photo) en route to Shades of Beauty. From the Beauty Creek parking area, head south towards Tangle Ridge along the signed trail. The trail starts on a hiking dam of sorts and quickly enters a wooded area. You ascend to an old road, turn right for a short distance and then follow the trail left into the woods again. Soon the trail places you on the left bank of Stanley Falls, a limestone gorge consisting of eight waterfalls. Follow the gorge until it ends into Beauty Creek just being a creek and spot Shades of Beauty dripping down the right flank of Tangle Ridge.
You are looking for several curtains of ice on top of one another that originate out of a steep rock overhang above. Cross the creek and angle left up a steep hill (several hundred meters) of moss and snow to the base of the climb (is avalanche prone). If you stay right, you might get a little higher without crampons. Once you get your crampons on, most would be comfortable soloing to the base of the first curtain.
Route DescriptionThe first pitch is not the grade of this climb. It involves two easy curtains separated by a bench. At the top of this pitch, we built a station in the ice below what we considered to be the crux pitch of the route, the third curtain, which is shorter (12-15 meters) than the last pitch, but much steeper. We chose the left corner which was probably the most difficult line on this particular curtain, but aesthetic, steep and challenging. Again, setting up anchor in the ice on the next bench, the last pitch was a joy, a longer sustained curtain, relatively easy for the grade. You top out on this last pitch below a cool rock overhang which gives you a scenic platform to take in the views to the north up the Sunwapta River.
The descent offers quite the airy rappel. You will definitely need two 60 meter ropes. Move climbers left below the rock for approximately 50 meters or so, looking for a tree that had a rap sling in 2006. Walk your way down the rap a few meters to where it goes over a cliff, watch your hands and rap device and maneuver over the cliff for a cool free air rappel (photo). From here, you scramble down traversing skiers left the whole time to avoid other short cliffs all the way back to below the base of the climb. Cross the lower ice and descend back to Beauty Creek.
It would be interesting to combine the rock above Shades of Beauty for some sort of mixed climbing adventure.