The Weeping Wall area on the Columbia Icefield Parkway is home to two of the most sought after waterfall ice climbing objectives anywhere, Polar Circus, 1600’ of V, WI 5 and Weeping Wall (tons of grades and lengths). The name of Polar Circus was derived from the original ascentor, Charlie Porter, who while complaining of suspect gear on the crux of the route, exclaimed the event was nothing more than a “Polish Circus”. Lower Weeping Wall itself is a curtain as wide as it is tall offering just about every grade level.
Weeping Wall is located on the east side of the Columbia Icefield Parkway just north of the Mount Wilson ice climbing area in Banff National Park, one of four connecting national parks making up the central Canadian Rockies.
Three critical factors make Weeping Wall popular:
1. Access- many routes are accessed just 15 minutes from your car
2. Southern Exposure- although you will lose the sun fairly early during the short winter afternoons
3. Rampart Creek Hostel- manned and open in the winter almost exclusively for ice climbers/skiers.
Weeping Wall is comprised of a minimum of 22 published waterfall ice and mixed climbing routes. Joe Josephson’s “Waterfall Ice, Climbs in the Canadian Rockies” is an excellent guide book featuring photos and topos relative to these 22 routes.
RoutesLower Weeping Wall (all kinds of lengths and grade-see photos)
Snivelling Gully 180m II, WI 3- This is less than a 1000’ ascent day. The ice climb itself is approximately 180 meters. Your approach to the left corner of Weeping Wall will last all of 10-15 minutes. Leave the parking area and cross the road to ascend to the base of the broad Weeping Wall. Snivelling Gully will come into view to your left as it creeps up between the rock and ice to the top left hand corner of the lower Weeping Wall. It is four pitches in total. The first and last pitch are sustained for their grade, but the 2nd and 3rd pitches are more ice scrambling than climbing. Snivelling Gully’s four rap descent off of bolted chains and a tree is used by most parties climbing on Weeping Wall’s other routes, so look for traffic on weekends. We went on a Tuesday in late December and had the entire place to ourselves. You are more likely to have it to yourself if the road is in bad winter condition which can be a good strategy to avoid crowds as long as it is not closed or they close it while you are climbing. Dow
Dead-Eye Dick 155m, III, WI 5+
Left Hand 180m, II, WI 4
Central Pillar 180m III, WI 5+
Right Hand 180m III, WI 5
Upper Weeping Wall
Teardrop 170m IV, WI 5+ to 6
Weeping Pillar 170m V, WI 6
Mare in Winter 200m IV, WI 4+
Nasty Habits 200m IV, WI 6
Ice T 180m IV, WI 6
Tales of Ordinary Madness 180m IV, WI 5+
Weeping Wall Area
Polar Circus 700m V, WI 5 This is a 2300’+ ascent day. Polar Circus is called the “showpiece of the Canadian Rockies and a must for all climbers” by Joe Josephson in his reknowned guide book “Waterfall Ice, Climbs in the Canadian Rockies”. It is one of the most sought after routes anywhere in the world. Featuring 2300’+/- gain with over 1600’ of waterfall ice spread out over 9+/- pitches, Polar Circus is a classic to say the least. Charlie Porter is credited for naming the route while on first ascent when complaining about setting up a station on one of the steep pitches, referring to his situation as nothing more than a “Polish Circus”. Polish became Polar in the translation. Within Polar Circus is a feature named the Pencil which rarely forms to the ground, but when it does it is one of the finer WI 6 pillars anywhere. Dow
Bald, Bespectacled Ones 80m III, WI 4
Bob Sized 40m II, WI 2-4
Cold Shower With a View 45m III, WI 4
Whimper Wall 110m III, WI 4
Aerial Boundries 170m III, WI 5+
Mini Master 40m II, 5.6, WI 3
Mixed Master 300m IV, 5.8, WI 5- Considered one of the finer mixed routes in the Rockies.
Tears of a Clown 30m II, WI 3
Team Effort 40m III, WI 4