As I pull up to the final belay I look over the overwhelming beauty of the Ghost River Valley of Alberta, Canada and only one thing comes to mind, “life’s so rad”. The line from the preamble of the classic “Sweater Song” by Weezer could not more perfectly sum up the landscape that lays before me. We have just finished the classic Sorcerer, one of the finest pieces of ice I have had the privilege to climb. It is my partners and my last climb in the Rockies for the season and as we prepare for our first abseil of the descent, we reflect and gleefully reminisce on our incredible fortune of our closing season.
The Rockies of North America offer some of the best and most accessible ice climbing in the world. From the climbing gym like scene of Ouray Ice Park, to the huge lines such as Polar Circus that cascade over the walls of the Icefields Parkway. There is something for everyone who has an inclination towards the cold but oh so rewarding activities of ice and mixed climbing.
The season started in the United State of Colorado. While in town I climbed the majestic “Whore House Hoses”. It all started out on the approach when my partner and I walked into a colossal amphitheater of limestone. From one of the edges poured a column of ice offering an escape from the overhangs surrounding us. As we moved up the route we found ourselves in more of these marvelous formations until we were far above where we began.
Later in the season I made a pilgrimage to the Rockies of Alberta Canada. Here my partners and I found the ice of our dreams. But it was not until we reached the remote Ghost River Valley that we realized just how awesome it could be. During our days there we climbed many pieces of ice. Each was beautiful and marvelous in it’s own way. It could be said that this was where I fully realized why I love ice climbing so much. The love comes from the places and challenges which ice climbing takes me, both mentally and physically, places that as a kid I never thought I would go. The Rockies season ended for me on that fabulous day on The Sorcerer, and what a day it was.
But alas, now I am once again back to work at school in Dunedin, NZ. Dreaming of mountains both close and far away. But I know that sometime in the not so far off future it will be time to commence the posse, with our hands stir the “rad pot” and get back to climbing the ice of the Rockies of North America.
Originally published in Crux Magazine 2007