In the end, the idea of AthaB had to be shelved, since a large snowfall and winds caused North aspects to become quite sketchy that weekend. The avy bulletin scared us all the way back to Nordegg. We phoned into the Sunda Hostel (the HI online bookings went to shit), and found out that there was room, but that we'd have to join in on a wine and cheese on Saturday night. A classy weekend of ice it was!
We got out of town early and even managed to avoid fast food. Made souvlaki on the barbie! Started to party it up with another ice climbing pair from Edmonton. It turns out that one of them (I think his name is Ross) had almost been on a club trip with me about 4 years ago. That was a trip to Mt. King Edward that was canceled at the very last minute because the leader's father had a stroke. Anyhoo, it was a blast to catch up with the other two climbers there.
On Saturday, we got a bit of a relaxed start, then headed for "Good News and Bad Dreams". Pulling into the parking lot, we parked beside a Honda Element. Not many people drive those ugly things, and I thought that there might be a chance that it was Peter Amann. Whoever the car's owner was, we followed their tracks up to the base of the climb. Just as we were getting near though, we heard them below us. They must have bailed, not exactly a great sign.
Moving into the gully below the climb, I could see why they had bailed. Most of the first pitch had fallen off. We got up to it, and had a look. We could see that someone had bolted a mixed variation to the start, but heck neither of us has ever mixed climbed. We decided to try and scramble up and to the right on lower angle rock. Being in my ski boots, this plan was soon abandoned when I blew both feet and ended up nearly coming right off. And that was on what looked like an easier portion of the climb.
After bandaging my hand, we moved over to the looker's left and managed to pick our way up some mossy terrain with the odd tool hook and intercept the route at the bottom of the main (crux) pitch. Climbing from here, Erich led a beautiful 50m stretch of grade four ice. Just a blast! I unfortunately got the barfies and had a bit of a painful start to the pitch. Otherwise, it was absolutely exhilarating!
Back to the hostel we went, rapping past a pair now leading the first pitch. The leader seemed to be in need of a new pair of underwear, having placed about eight screws in as many meters of climbing. Luckily, the terrain let us rap beside rather than over them, so it was a positive exchange as we went by.
The wine and cheese was definitely good value for Erich and I. We ended up crashing a bit earlier, and slept in a bit too. Oh and Ernst and Margriet showed up as well. Sunday morning found us heading South on the Forestry Trunk Road. The section near Nordegg is quite hilly and tight! About 3/4 of an hour in, I ran over some car poop on a bridge deck. It made a pretty nasty sound on the undercarriage, but the car seemed OK so we carried on. A few minutes later, I spotted some more brown ice chunks on another bridge, and moved over to avoid them. I thought I had missed them (Erich did too), when suddenly the driver side wheel was absolutely pounded by the ice chunk. Instantly the car acted funny and I stopped. The ice had bent the rim right open and I could see inside the tire!
After an adventurous spare tire swap (my park brake doesn't quite work!), we got rolling again. I was pretty pissed off at myself for hitting the ice, but as Erich reminded me, shit happens. I've gotta work on getting less worked up over small accidents like that. Don't worry, be happy! Soon enough though, we pulled in at the Ram Falls Provincial Park, stopped the car, loaded the packs, and made the short walk down to the falls.
The ice around there was unreal. There is some easy stuff along the SE wall of the canyon, a moderate section as well (probably 3+), some thin and steep but short curtains on the NW wall, and then two flows down from the main falls. We climbed the left flow which was an absolute blast! Steep-ish ice in a 5-star environment. I thought it was mega cool. The ice at the top was absolute crap though, Erich belayed me on 4 screws and thought that they were all worthless. I'll have to remember to bring some knifeblades if I go up there again, there is a small wall on the left at the top that is probably compact enough to take a couple of pins for a belay. It's probably been climbed before, but there's no info to be found on it. We called it "Sheep Thrills", WI3+.
We rapped down off trees and enjoyed the free-hanging rappel back to our packs. Then, Erich being a bit tired, we rambled up the lower angle ice back to the edge of the canyon. Had lunch, then walked back to the car. Another good weekend out, and I'm even more hooked on ice climbing. Great fun!
|Good News and Bad Dreams|
|Erich on the main pitch of Good News and Bad Dreams|
|The other team leading up the first pitch.|
|On our way into the Ram River Canyon. Looks like a typical scramble, minus the guard rail.|
|Could be a short challenging adventure, or fun mixed terrain.|
|The giant ice cave|
|Erich starting Sheep Thrills|
|The top of Sheep Thrills from rappel|
|The main flow of Ram Falls. An very unique piece of ice!|