Ice Climbing Resources
Online Resources and Epic Photos
Climbers have been heading up frozen waterfalls in Canada for decades and a lot has changed, from the equipment and protection to where climbers find information on climbs and safety. Many experienced ice climbers began when there was no internet to use as a resource. They relied on journals, clubs, hear-say and guidebooks.
In 2018, with everything at your fingertips, the way ice climbing information is passed along is very different. Many new ice climbers started after the dawn of Facebook and social media, so naturally those are the places they’re accustomed to going for information. And while Facebook and Instagram are great places to get started, in the end every climber should be familiar with the many resources available.
Climbing apps are still sort of new in Canada and many of them are working out the kinks. Sloper Climbing is an author-based app that has valuable information for routes across Canada. Guidebook authors (often the most knowledgeable about local climbing) like Chris Perry and Kevin Mclane enter in their information from their best selling guidebooks into Sloper for users. Will Gadd’s new Ice and Mixed app combines the ice and mixed climbing guidebooks of Western Canada into one digital version. Information is still being added, but it will soon be the go-to resources for winter climbing.
Avalanche Terrain Ratings
Parks Canada has given avalanche classifications to most popular routes in the Canadian Rockies. They break it down to simple, challenging and complex. An example would be Louise Falls is simple and Polar Circus is complex. There’s a print friendly version that you can find online here pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/mtn/ securiteenmontagne-mountainsafety/avalanche/ echelle-ratings/eeta-ates.
This is most important for ice climbers heading into the mountains. Whether the hazard is low or high will determine where you go that day. Avalanche.ca is the place to go for forecasts. Read the information on what the daily updates mean. Check it every time you plan to go out.
This might seem old-school, but conditions sites are often moderated by local climbers and can be more easily searched than social media. For Ontario ice conditions, check out kolos.ca/currentconditions. For B.C. ice conditions, check out westcoastice.com. For East Coast and Quebec conditions visit neice.com. For Rockies conditions, check out gravsports-ice.com.
ACC, Guides and Guidebooks
Before you go relying on quick answers from social media, go to the experts. There are climbing guides in nearly every province in Canada and they are there to help. Your safety and knowledge about an ice climbing is worth the cost of hiring a guide for a day.
Guidebooks are still big business in Canada. There are printed guidebooks for most of the winter areas. Some of them are out of print, but can be found at the local library or by asking around town. They’re full of valuable information.
The Alpine Club of Canada (acc) has been offering introductory courses and seminars for decades. Find your local section and touch base with them. Being a member of the club is how many ice climbers get started.—gripped
Opposite:Jo Peung climbing Ice Nine in Banff National Park along the Icefields Parkway in Alta.Left: Patrick Lindsay leading the rarely formed Dancing With Chaos along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alta.
Bottom left: Lindsay leading Carlsberg Column in Field, B.C. Below: Steve Campbell leading Saddam’s Insane, WI5 100 m, Kananaskis, Alta.
Left: Lindsay on Pilsner Pillar in Field, B.C.
Below: Riptide on Mount Patterson
Opposite: Marko Delesalle leading the first pitch of Sacre Bleu, WI5 in Banff National Park, Alta. Above: Lindsay leading Carlsberg Column in Field, B.C.
Above: Steve Campbell on Saddam’s Insane WI5 in Kananaskis, Alta.Left: Seb Taborszky climbing SacreBleu in Banff National Park, Alta.
Opposite: Kris Irwin starting the second pitch of Dancing With Chaos just before we backed off, Banff National Park, Alta.
Below: Kris Irwin starting the second pitch of Dancing With Chaos just before we backed off, Banff National Park, Alta.
Right:Zac Colbran climbing the first pitch of Kitty Hawk, WI5, nearNordegg, Alta.
Above: Jo Peung climbing Ice Nine in Banff National Park along the Icefields Parkway in Alta.