Fearful Symmetry WI6

Page Type Page Type: Route
Additional Information Route Type: Ice Climbing
Seasons Season: Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: WI6
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 1
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


One of two renowned grade 6 climbs in the Recital Hall, Fearful Symmetry is a truly world class route. I don’t know the story behind the name, but it is clearly a reference to William Blake’s poem The Tyger, “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright /
In the forests of the night, /
What immortal hand or eye / Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”
This route is normally given an X rating, due to thin, detached pillars in which it is highly unwise to place screws. This year however (2013-14) it and Rainbow Serpent are in unusually fat shape, more like WI5+ conditions, and actually protect quite well.

Fearful Symmetry, WI 6X
Fearful Symmetry in more typical conditions, photo by Dow Williams
Fearful Early Season
November 2013


Get to the South Ghost, Dow pretty much has this covered so I’m not going to rehash it, I feel like we’ve driven a slightly different way each time anyways.
From the parking lot hike down the valley toward the lake beds, there will probably be a intermittent trail through the wind-drifted snow. In order to reach the Recital Hall at least one approach pitch must be climbed, this is Aquarius (WI4), to reach Aquarius either climb Sunshine (WI3) and traverse into the drainage, or hike up the first valley west of Sunshine and climb two short WI2-3 steps, if you are intending to climb Fearful this is a very reasonable free solo.

Fearful from Sunshine
Recital Hall visible from just above Sunshine

Route Description

The climb can be done in two pitches or one

Pitch 1 (WI2) - from the base of the Recital Hall climb up the apron beneath the ice flow on the left, several bolts can be found behind and to the right of the free-standing pillar. This pitch can be skipped by either soloing to the ledge or by belaying from below, with 70m ropes the pitches can be linked.

Pitch 2 (WI6) - Climb the free-standing pillar, this may involve pulling delicate detached icicles, or, if the climb is in good shape, it may be nothing but bomber hooks.

Fearful Symmetry
Ryan Hoover just before the crux.

External Links

Weather in Cochrane (despite being about as far away as Canmore, this seems to be the nearest town aspect-wise, and we couldn't find a more precise forecast)

Gravsports - Will Gadd's site, often has recent route conditions info