Thursday, 29 November 2012

November Kananaskis Country Ice 2013

November 24-25, Kananaskis

Synopsis: Definitely early season, pretty thin but great just to get back behind the tools!

Geoff, Kim and I headed to Canmore Friday evening.  Meeting friends at the Griz resulted in a few beers, a few games of pool and a late start Saturday morning.

We heard conditions were thin and debated where to try our luck. In the end we settled on the Opal Ridge area in Southern K-Country.  We drove back and forth a couple of times checking the climbs out and the only one we could see definitely in from the road was Solid Cold.  

You can see it high in the gully to Geoff's left, a fair ways in but we needed some exercise.  We left the car about 11:30 without really reading the route description or taking it with us and plunged straight up the gully.  It got pretty entertaining pretty quickly with bush and deep snow with wind slabs.

After a fair bit of thrashing we climbed up to the left to gain the ridge and climbed further on much easier terrain.

We didn't really trust the ridge, or the summer trail, enough to stay on the ridge all the way along so after we came in even with the band of trees on the right we plunged back down.  Ah the joys of climbing and descending frozen scree!

The real heinous part was getting up the last 50 metres to the ice; steep, deep and crusted - a great work out.  Definitely much more like winter mountaineering than ice climbing!  We finally arrived at the ice after 4 hours taken to gain 650 metres.  The ice was great but we had a good laugh at the effort for 20 metres of ice!

It was thin on the bottom and top and pretty funky in between but it felt good to be on the ice.  Once down it was 4:40pm and definitely getting dark, we hammered down in an hour through more fun and games to the best tasting beer I can remember having.

The conditions weren't really the kind to make you consider cutting the night time activities short so we didn't and had an even later start the next day.  We had heard the ice wasn't bad at King Creek further south so headed in.  25 minutes on a packed trail felt pretty luxurious.  It was crowded however we found a nice pitch of soft WI3 to play on.

As I say, great to swing the tools!