Thursday, March 20, 2014

Canadian Rockies: pt. 3, Curtain Call

Curtain Call III WI6. March 2014.

 This is one of those lines that you need to see only once.  It takes hold of you and never lets go.  I remember seeing it in Will Gadd's book years ago, and I knew I had to climb it. 

All the Belays were in protected caves.  This is the first.

Brett leading out on the first pitch, 60m of fragile, steep ice.
 We soloed a short 10m step of vert ice and established ourselves in a nice cave.  Brett took pitch 1, leading the climbers-left side of the pillar.  It was a rope stretcher with relentless angle and consistent chandeliers and mushrooms.  Zach and I followed very quickly. The next cave was quite like the first, but with a persistent drip of water above, soaking to the bone.  I racked up quickly and left my friends to get drenched, starting up one of the strangest pitches of ice I have ever led. 

I stemmed, chimneyed, and eventually squeezed my way out a narrow window in the face of the pillar.  The window provided a terrain belay, and protection was mostly unnecessary.  I took my time, enjoying the massive exposure and climbing in the warm sun. I ran it out until I was above the fracture line, and the sticks sounded solidly instead of shaking the pillar with them.  I started placing screws and finished the last 30 meters of steep ice to the top, finding some shallow stems in which to take a few deep breaths.  It was thoughtful ice, with many fragile features, but for the most part it was a surprisingly easy pitch. By the time Brett and Zach followed the clouds had moved back over the sun, and they were soaked from the drip at the dark belay.  We all rapped quickly with little time to relax.
Leading the crux, pitch 2.  About to exit through the window and onto the front face of the pillar.

We originally wanted to go big in the alpine, but after finishing Curtain Call, our trip is complete for me.  We're not going to force anything in these conditions, but I think there might be a few more climbs in store for us before we go back to the grind.

Dropping pillows the next day below the Crowfoot Glacier.

No comments:

Post a Comment