That morning, we drove into Kananaskis country, hoping to climb Amadeus, a WI4+ hanging pillar we had seen a few days earlier, when it looked fat and was almost touching the ground. When we got there this time, it had reduced in volume considerably and was much further from touching down. Oh well.
We continued down Highway 40 to the Evan-Thomas Creek area, where there were supposed to be a few good lines (WI3 to 4) with no avalanche danger. It was a VERY cold but beautiful day. There was about 50 cm of new snow on the ground. We followed vague postholing tracks but had to essentially break trail the entire way with snowshoes to reach the climbs. It took us over 2 and ½ hours to get there…
The good news were: the climbs were in (we had been told that they rarely form before January), and the ice looked good, at least on the central route, "Snowline", WI4. The other two lines, "Moonlight", on the left, and "2 Low 4 Zero", on the right, looked thin but climbable. We started with "Snowline". Climbed it in freezing cold (-20 degrees C), in two pitches (about 100 m total). The ice was thin for the first few meters but then plenty thick enough and slightly wet so very plastic. Pretty straightforward. About WI3 in these conditions.
Another party was on "Moonlight" when we got back down, so we decided to try "2 Low 4 Zero", on the right hand side. This is normally rated WI3R and requires pitons for protection. It looked very thin but not so steep so we went for it. It turned out to be pretty nightmarish, with an ice shell over snow and very rotten thin ice underneath. No pro for the first 40 meters… scary. Too much snow and shell ice to locate any piton placements. It took Eric a while to carefully finish the pitch. By the time he reached the belay, it was almost dark and I had to follow the pitch with a headlamp! We rapped down in one shot and complete darkness. We then packed up the gear quickly and raced back to the car on the now very nice trail.
Evan-Thomas Creek Climbs, AB
|Views of Mount Kidd from the approach trail.|
|Lucie breaking trail on the approach.|
|It really looks like Christmas already...|
|Approaching the base of the climbs.|
|Eric leading "Snowline" (in WI3 conditions).|
|Higher up on the pitch.|
|Sunset on Mt Kidd.|
|Eric starting up "2 Low 4 Zero" (WI3 R).|