After seeing a Calgary Mountain Club ice climbing presentation with Will Gadd (awesome mountaineer/ice climber/nice man), Harvey and I thought it would be a great idea to take an ice climbing course.  I had no climbing experience at all, but what the hey? Soooo I posted a class from the U of C on the CORE calendar and had 2 other people sign up.  Yes!”

Pat kitted up for Ice Climbing

On the day of the practical climb it was super early in the morning as we met near Canmore at 7:15. It was pitch black out, really windy and cold and we all wondered what we were thinking when we agreed to do this.

After CORE members Uszula, Kevin, Harv and Pat met the rest of our group, 11 in total, we drove on to King’s Creek in Kananaskis Park where we proceeded to get ready for our adventure.  It was still early, still pitch black outside and a fairly nippy -10 C.

We then proceeded to hike over fallen trees and icy streams to our destination.  Once there we had a chat about where to go to the bathroom (men on one side of the falls, women on the other).  We put on our harness, crampons and helmets – some of us were better as this than others – yes, I admit I had trouble with getting the equipment on, like, a lot. We did a few practice runs on footing and how to use an ice pick. Then it was time to get climbing.

Harv chipping his way up the icecycle

We had two instructors from the U of C – Patrick and Larry.  Both were really helpful, and very knowledgeable. We practiced throughout the day, the only real issue being that it was fairly chilly but most of us had dressed appropriately so that wasn’t too much of a problem.  I took a spill on the falls but that’s why you have ropes, so it was no big deal. It was a bit like going down a long slide and actually quite fun.  One person got hit in the face with a bit of ice but otherwise there were no injuries, not even an ice pick dropped on someone’s head, which was a distinct possibility.

Around 4:30 it was time to pack up and I have to confess I was ready to depart, since I was a bit chilled and definitely getting tired and we still had to hike back to the cars.  The way back seemed to be much harder for some reason, but luckily I had a few helping hands to get me over the icy parts.  I also got a chance to talk with Patrick who shared with me his love of the mountains and stories about some of his adventures. Then it was time to say goodbye which is always a bit sad – got hugs from Larry and Patrick – and got gratefully into the warm car.

If anyone is interested in taking this course I can highly recommend it, even if you have no previous experience it was well worth it.

By Pat Ranger

CORE Member Extraordinaire