Go Big and Go Home

Bow Valley from The Professor Falls, Banff

Brad and I got an early start out of Jasper and headed back up towards the Columbia Icefields to try some classic multipitch ice routes. With stormy conditions and high avalanche danger, we decided to back off our big objectives, and opted to climb Louise Falls in the afternoon.

Ready for my hardest ice lead yet 

Louise Falls

I led my hardest pitch yet, and set up a toprope over some spicy WI5 ice and a neat mixed corner. Lake Louise was quiet and peaceful during the snowstorm, except for the occasional slough of spindrift from above. On the hike out, we encountered numerous ski team members in town for the World Cup downhill event this weekend.

Lower pitches of The Professor Falls

Primed with a week of experience, we saved the best for last…in a gorge on the north face of Mount Rundle flows a 1000 ft waterfall. Named for a Calgary professor who kept slipping off his straight-shafted ice tools, The Professor Falls is one of the undisputed classics of the range. We hit the trail well before sunrise as the approach was a long but flat walk along the banks of the Bow River. The well worn five mile trail to the base hinted to the popularity, but we had the place to ourselves. Brad started up a narrow pillar of wet chandelier ice. Drenched after placing his first screw, he decided to back off, and we hiked around and rapped off a tree to avoid the “uphill swimming.”

Brad sending the second pitch

The route from there was undeniably cool. Brad led two stout pitches while I completed the upper half of the route…some short steps and a long rope-stretcher pitch.

Cruising steps on the upper route

We contemplated the final crux pitch, but in thin, wet conditions, we decided to call it a trip and rappel the route. A few free-hanging rappels later and we were hiking out and before we knew it, we were feasting on organic flatbread pizza and soup in Canmore. It’s hard to comprehend how much there is to do here. Canada, you’ve been a treat!

One of the rope-stretcher rappels