BD employees Kolin Powick and Doug Heinrich ice climb in the Canadian Rockies.
Black Diamond’s Director of Quality, Kolin Powick (KP) and Category Director for Lamps & Gloves, Doug Heinrich (DH) went up to Canada to get an ice fix and try out some new gear. They were blessed with atypical temps (i.e., not -40C), and great conditions to get some climbing in before heading back to the grind at the office. Below is KP's report and photos.
DH and I left work Tuesday evening, grabbed the quick 90-minute flight to Calgary, rented a car and were crashed at my buddy’s place in Canmore by around midnight. With mild temps, no snow, low avalanche hazard, and a good forecast, the options for the week were pretty open. Rumor had it that some high-intensity sun had cooked a lot of the south facing stuff, but there was still plenty to do.
We opted for a relatively mellow first day. Short drive, short approach, short route: Borgeau Left. I was hoping for Borgeau Right because I’d done Left before, but Right basically wasn’t in. These two sweet routes get baked by the sun, and are located below a significant avalanche bowl, but with low hazard we felt pretty good. It was in standard shape: sketchy, delaminated sun-baked first pitch that was harder than it looks, followed by pretty good steep ice on the second pitch. On our last rap we got our ropes WELDED, but luckily for us a party of three from France was headed up and freed our cords. Off to the Grizzly Paw for chow and to hook up with a buddy from MEC in Vancouver.
Day two was running laps at Marble Canyon with Will Gadd. That guy is so hilarious, has a ridiculous amount of energy, and knows a little bit about how to climb ice as well. Super beautiful spot down in this really cool canyon. We all got worked. Off to the Grizzly Paw for chow.
Next up was Curtain Call, a route I’ve always wanted to do but don’t have the skills—luckily DH does. We were up early, then the mandatory Tim Hortons stop before the two-hour haul up the parkway. We parked and unloaded our packs just as another party showed. Sorry guys… we had them by about 90 seconds. They left and not three minutes later ANOTHER party showed up. Sorry guys. The first pitch was cauliflower madness, and the second had this crazy section of full-on overhanging ice. Luckily (for me) this route has seen some action recently so the hooking was solid and fun. Then down, the long drive back to Canmore, and switched it up with pizza for chow.
Day 4 – into the Ghost. Got an inside tip that the Fang & Fist was in and good so we rallied (literally) deep into the North Ghost and gave this beauty a go. Super classic two pitches of fun steep ice, followed by a bunch of shorter steps with some walking in between. On the way out we bumped into some good ol’ Canadian boys who had hunkered in for the weekend of camping, climbing, grilling steaks and drinking beer. And they were kind enough to offer us some. Awesome.
Day 5 had to be a quick one, so it was back into the Ghost for the one pitch über classic Wicked Wanda, a super aesthetic route with crazy ice features formed by whipping wind. We were up and down quickly—just as some Spaniards on their 15th day-on were finishing up their trip. A quick drive back into Calgary to hang with the in-laws and catch the homeland’s 3-2 victory over the US in the gold medal hockey game. Sweet.
Super early flight out on Monday morning and then straight back to the office. Super bonus—they actually let me back into the country.
All-in-all, an awesome trip.