Friday, December 31, 2004

Waterton Scrambling

Ice climbs and avey conditions January 4th 2005

The cold weather has had a positive effect on the ice conditions in the area. The south facing climbs are all in and continueing to form rapidly. Check changing conditions with the wardens office. They have a new sherriff in town and wants to here how climbing and skiing conditions are.

Quick and dirty- This is totally in and well formed. Still has a lot of water running even in these colder temps so should be fatting up nicely. The other climbs associated with Q&D are forming with French Kiss being in but a little thin on the top. I saw that the famous Blair piggot climbed this route yesterday (3rd). The other steeper line with the french sounding name is yet to form. (note that it is possible to walk around Q&D if one wanted to climb the routes up higher. I personally would wait till I had more daylight)

Experts Choice: This climb has always fasinated me. I have yet to climb it but it truly is an amazing piece of ice.Ever sience Yuri and yvon featured this thing in climbing ice way back when i have wanted to climb this. The central line looks to be a honest sustained grade six. There is plenty of room for newer sport lines in the area

Buchanon Ridge: These climbs are continueing to form and are looking real good. Located a bit furter west of experts area and you couldn't miss them even if you had two glass eye's. park at the crandell lake parking then go back 50 meters to the clearing. There is a big tree that fell over and makes a great bridge across the creek.

Swedes: I call it this because a couple of swedes climbed this cute little canyon feature next to the road. they left it unnamed and did not leave their names.It is on the north side of the creek close to Q&D

Irish Dream: This climb on Vimy is in and forms every year. Grade 4-4+ is a cool feature but has a bit of a approach. Certianly one of the cooler climbs in the area even though you have never heard of it. No Photo

Compound Gullies: These puppies are looking great. If you are new to climbing or just enjoy getting out and your grade level is around 3 or easy 4 these climbs are totally for you. 300 meters with a 10 minute approach. There are 3 obvious climbs behind the warden station. The one on the left being the easiest and the climb on the right pushing grade 4 at the top. you can walk off the top of these routes but be sure to eye your descent. Another good thing about these climbs is that rescue is a stones throw away. Your cell phone should work here when you get higher.

Avey conditions: was up on Forun the other day (2nd). their is 25 cms of low density snow sitting on a bullet proof crust (44 mag) This allowed for good skiing (spit) but you still penetrated down to the crust causeing a bit of skidding. The crust broke down at about 1900 meters (22 caiber). the cooling temps certianly have the ability to cause serious faccetting below and/or above this layer. There has been little wind lately but when it returns there is plenty of snow available for transport. At the moment I would say that the avy hazard is at th elow end of moderate and non existant below tree line. It will be interesting to see if this cold and that crust produces a sliding layer similair to those in the interior back in 98/99. however at the momment skiing (spit) is good to very good and a bit more snow will certianly bump it up to excellent

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Waterton Scrambling

Waterton Scrambling
edit away chris Just going to try posting a few picts and see hoew it goes. These are pasted with LTV source code.

Photo of experts 24th

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Waterton Scrambling

Thailand Picts

In the last two days (22,23rd) we have had 15 - 20 cm of new snow above the townsite and 10 cms in town. The wind has not been that bad so most has stuck around. Afraid to say the skiing is pretty good at the moment. the runs off Forum lake would be pretty good I am guessing.
The cooler temps have been great for the ice. Quick and dirty is foemed up to the point of being climbable. A bit anorexic perhaps. Experts has ice but it is going to be awhile yet as it was hit real hard that last warm spell. The Buchanan ridge climbs are looking better than ever. The stuff on Vimy (NW facing) fell down three days ago. Who was going to walk that far this time of year anyhow?

Monday, December 20, 2004


All those who went in to Lineham on saturday can thank dave and I for breaking the last km of trail on friday. (Just kidding) Dave Fuller and I went in on friday morning, we did not bring any pins and therefore were forced to do the right side. We were unable to finish as we were pushed for time. The ice made some very ominous sounds as we climbed which always makes me tend to feel a little uneasy. The left side looked like it was in really good shape except for the thin start at the bottom.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Waterton Scrambling

Waterton Scrambling
December 19th 2004
Climbed the left hand of the lineham falls. Went in with the famous Blair Piggot. About a hour 20 approach. Started in with skis but they got heavy and there is little snow for the first third forcing you to take them on and off. Blair wore his all the way in and were of more use on the way out. There is a trail punched in all the way to the falls so skis are not needed. after the next snowfalll if it is of any significance may be of more use.

Right Lineham: Pretty casual with a exciting finish the last ten meters. The last bit has formed while the wind blew giving a weird twisted formation 3+-4. The rest below is only grade 3

Left Lineham: Reported by Blair to be in excellent shape, a couple knife blades were handy on the first pitch. there is a few meters were it is a bit thin but not dangerous. Rest of the climb excellent ice. Rap anchors in on both climbs.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Waterton Scrambling: waterton Ice/avalanche Dec 17th 2004

Waterton Scrambling: waterton Ice/avalanche Dec 17th 2004Avalanche conditions Waterton Park December18th 2004
Alpine : Moderate Tree line; Low Below tree line: Very low

Information based on profile 2100 meters NE aspect Summit Knob located just west of summit lake.

The last storm system to come threw early last week had all the potential to drop a meter of snow on the area. One little problem, the temps were such that it rained to mountain top. The upper snow pack has a knife hard rain crust (30 –40 cm) that is best described as bullet proof. We are talking 357 magnum the most powerful hand gun in the world. Don’t worry about feeling lucky punk cause you ain’t going to cause a slide. The specific terrain features rule still holds true. IE: wind loaded gullies. It may be possible to trigger an avalanche on steep unsupported terrain but this would apply to ice climbers for the most part.

There is a moderate shear (M12) down about 70cm but the snow pack is so well supported by the upper rain layer that the shear is deceiving in its significance. The rain/ice crust softens a bit as you drop on elevation but the hazard is reduced because of the diminishing snow pack. The ground anchors are not covered yet.
To sum it up there is great skiing to be had after the next storm. Put 20 cm of snow on top of this crust and even I might go skiing!! Right now the skiing sucks on all aspects and elevations. Will tomorrows warm spell change anything? I doubt it. Use common sense when it comes to dealing with the back country. Mother nature has a way of throwing a wrench in the machine. My confidence in this forecast/observation is 90%

waterton Ice/avalanche Dec 17th 2004

Avalanche conditions general in waterton area: December 17th

I have only been wandering around for a few days but there does not seem to be enough snow for a high hazard at tree line or below tree line. There certainly is potential in the alpine but I suspect that it would take an isolated terrain feature i.e.: wind-loaded gully on an east aspect for a natural avalanche to occur.
The winds have been high for the last 4 days with gusts on the prairie just outside of the park reaching 140km + (this was one day last week mind you). Despite the high winds I see no snow moving at ridge top and I suspect that most snow has been transported. Warm temps seem to have consolidated the snow into a breakable to rock hard crust. Certainly warmer temps expected sat. (+12) could raise all alpine features to considerable plus. My gut feeling is that it is moderate to low at the moment in the alpine. Don’t forget that I mentioned isolated terrain features and having only been in the alpine on one aspect have limited observations. The possibility also exists to trigger a slide?

Ice conditions general
The famous south aspect climbs on the Cameron lake road are taking a beating with the melt freeze. “Experts choice” center fell down last night. Left hand looks climbable but my advice is to wait till things cool off a bit. “Quick and dirty” although formed somewhat is very thin and the other climbs associated with it are non-existent. However on the bright side the climbs across the creek on Buchanan ridge are looking good. The creek is fairly low and it may be possible to cross without getting your feet wet. I personally would take hip waders or rubber boots just in case. There is at least half a dozen climbs of moderate difficulty and a big fat first ascent 1500 feet up in a basin just opposite the well site marker. Not to hard I suspect, huge and fat, just like me.
The compound gullies have been my playground the last few days. They are a little spooky for their grade because of daytime heating but at least four have formed. The climbs above the golf course are in and actually look to be fun.
The routes on Vimy look to be in also I can see the Sofa Mountain climbs (Sullivan Falls) but that would have to be a camping trip this time of year I suspect.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Conditions Dec 16th

Well with all the warm weather, it looks like the lines in Banff may be a tempting alternative to the chinooks of the south. Brad Hagen sent me some pictures of Drywood from a couple of days ago. As you can see, things looked remarkably good. I imagine Wall Lake, Lucifer, and other high elevation climbs should still be doing all right. How are the other conditions this week? And, how is the Montana ice looking?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Ice Opener

It sounds like the weather is going to be the same as it was last year. Forecast shows the day starting with rain and the temperature dropping throughout the day. Things are going to be wet again, so bring your wet weather gear. As it was last year, things turned out pretty good inspite of the rain in the morning. See you all there. Cheers.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Ice Opener Countdown

Well I haven't got my emails out like I wanted, but the opener is still on. With the large number of hits on the site the last couple of days (50+ per day), it seems like people are looking for updates.

The ice in Waterton seems to be in decent shape. Right now it seems to be in about the same as it is in most years. I will be getting to Waterton at about 9:00 to grab the BBQ and head up. Blair is carpooling and I presume will be leaving Lethbridge at 8:00 or so?

Aaron is still coming down with his tool demos, pro-deals, and raffle (buy $60 in gear plus a $5 raffle ticket).

This means things should still be informal, but hopefully if the Medicine Hat crew comes, a bit larger than previous years. Feel free to bring any non-climbing friends. It should be a goo chance to get together.

Afterwords people usually head home for a good night's rest. Those without home comitments usually head to the Kilmorey for drinks. THe hot tub at the Lodge is still open, but I am unsure of the hours.

How to help?
We need extra boots and crampons. Ice axes are pretty plentiful as we normally only get 3 or 4 ropes up at a time.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ice opener

If anybody needs a ride to the ice opener Saturday I've got room for 5 people. I'm going climbing Friday so just phone the house and leave a message (327-9914) and i'll phone you Friday nite when i get in.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Re: partners

Well, Dave and i are heading back into Wall Lake again tomorrow (Saturday) if anyone is interested their welcome to come. Expect a 2 1/2 hour approach to the lower climbs and about a 3 1/2 hour approach to the upper climbs. If the avy hazard is to risky we'll probably stash the ice gear and continue up the ridge and try and bag some turns.
I wouldn't mind going out somewhere Sunday as well if anyone is looking for a partner. Best is to phone me at work (329-6262) or at home (327-9914).

Here's a shot of the road south of St. Mary's. A number of unclimbed? ice lines lie along the big avalanche prone peak.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


It seems like everyone in the local area wants to get out more. However, not all that many people seem to know the local crowd. While the ice opener should be a good spot to win gear and meet new people, perhaps more is needed.

If you are interesting in finding a new belayer slave, or rope gun, feel free to post your info below. I know I have received a number of emails from people who are keen to get out more. (Sorry for those Wed. Blair).

State of the Blog

I am currently trying to play with a recent coments feature. So far it isn't working terribly well. Expect some time before it gets up and working. Once it is out I will also start sending out invites for other contributors.

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