Crystal blue ice, delicate and pristine.
Chandeliers and daggers,
Icicles bigger than your body!
To approach this frozen waterfall
and then interact with it
finding grooves to dig in a tool
tiny ledges to plant spikes
of crampon feet and so make
your way up higher, along the
steep frozen smoothness
to find the place where the slope
eases back and the ice turns flat
like the pond where you learned to skate
and first felt the fun of ice.
We got a late start to the season this year but we finally made it out for a climbing session on Sunday, February 4. Old injuries seem to be healing and we hope to be able to climb a few more before the melt starts.
This is a fun area to play around with a few different lines. There is a tree at the top with cordellette around it that can be used as part of a top rope anchor. An ice screw can serve as the other part of the anchor to create redundancy. We used a directional screw at the top of each line we wanted to try. This year, it is not as fat as when we've climbed it in the past. We still had a lot of fun here and it was a great place to shake the dust off for the first climb of the season.
This ice is mostly WI2 with some steeper WI3 sections.
Park at the Galatea trailhead parking lot on Highway 40 in Kananaskis. Head down a steep hill on a wide trail, then cross the suspension bridge. Hike up a creek to another bridge and cross. At the T intersection on the other side, go left, past a sign with warnings about the dangers of the backcountry.
This trail climbs up away from the creek with a couple of switchbacks. Then it comes back down to the creek where you cross another bridge. Shortly after, there is another bridge but do not cross it. Instead, leave the trail and go left to where a small tributary joins the creek from a canyon with steep rock walls. Either hike up the creek (one small ice step to go up) or hike up above the little creek on the left side of it. Find game trails and bushwack along the left side of the creek, eventually traversing a steep meadow. Shortly after, cross the creek (ice should be solid enough but make sure). Continue up the right side of the creek for about 10 minutes until you start to see steep rock walls beside the creek. The ice is on the right side of the creek, up the hill. You cannot see it from the creek so you may have to search around for it.
If you have the app, Ice Climbing in Western Canada, the "Navigate" button in the climb description will take you right to it. Click the button on the right to link to a photo of the app.
2.5 km hike to the ice
175 meter elevation gain
A wide trail to start the approach trek.
The last bridge you cross. You leave the trail just and head left into the bush just before the next bridge.
There are lots of game trails but at times, you just have to bash your way through.
Steep rock walls along the creek indicate you are near the ice climb.
Acephale Falls. A gentle WI2 single-pitch climb. It is possible to walk around to the top of the climb and set up a top rope making this a perfect early-season starter climb. Dan and I climbed this in February 2023.
This single pitch WI3 is called "Step Right Up". We've climbed this twice, most recently on December 9, 2022. It was my turn to lead and I set up this top rope. We enjoyed climbing many different lines here.
This WI3 is called Blue Cheese. It is a single pitch. We have climbed it twice. This most recent time was December 7, 2022. It was Dan's turn to lead and he set up this top rope for us. We climbed three different lines here.
This fun area is called Agent Orange and Toad's Folly. It has single-pitch lines ranging from easy WI2 to steep WI3. Very few people climb here because there is no trail. It takes about an hour of post-holing through deep snow to reach this area. We have climbed it twice, most recently on December 4, 2022.
This area is called Wedge Smear. It is very popular because there are lots of easier lines, you can walk around to the top and set up a top rope and the hike in is pretty straightforward. This was our season opener in 2022. on November 20, 2022. Dan led a WI3 line.