After an easy day on Wicked Wanda the day before, we're back for more. This time, we're trying to get into the Waiparous Valley, just north of the Ghost to attempt "Ice Funnel". Unfortunately, we can't make it past the first stream crossing: it is flooded and only partially frozen. Damn! We really have not had any luck yet with the Waiparous...

Anyway, we still have a couple of climbs to do in the North Ghost so we decide to go check them out. Because of the recent snowfall, driving into the North Ghost this time is pretty hard going in places even with chains on all 4 wheels. We just don't have enough clearance with our jeep! On our way in, we find two trucks parked well short of "GBU" ("The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"), the typical parking spot for the largest concentration of climbs in the North Ghost. We try to push it further but finally stop about 200m short of GBU, where a large, frozen stream crossing does not seem worth the risk.

In good conditions, you can usually drive to within about 30 minutes of Phantom Falls. It looks like we'll have to walk a little further than that today. It's a beautiful sunny day so we enjoy the walk along the Ghost River toward the "official" parking area, the second drainage to the south past the "Valley of the Birds". From there, we follow old tracks a short distance up the drainage to a fork at the start of "This House of Sky". The left fork of the canyon leads to a small cirque guarded by a huge rock wall.

Phantom Falls sits in the back of the cirque; it's a good looking, narrow, single-pitch climb that is reported to form only rarely. Most years, it can be very thin and may involve challenging mixed climbing on intermittent and/or thin ice. In these conditions, it is usually rated R. This year however, the route is in exceptionally fat conditions. It is surprisingly cold near the climb so we don't waste too much time waiting around, and start climbing ASAP. Eric fires up the pitch. The climbing is easy in these conditions even if it is quite steep in places. The ice is not bad, though a bit hard. There is a brand new bolted anchor on the left side at the top of the pitch. From there, one double-rope rap brings us down.

On our way down, we try to have a look at the very popular This House of Sky, but we can't see much as it is hidden in the trees. We'll probably be back for it as it is reputed to be a real classic. We manage not to get stuck on the way out, and get back to Canmore in early evening.

Phantom Falls, North Ghost, AB

February 9, 2004 / WI4, 40m
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Crossing the Ghost River near Sentinel Crag.
 
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Phantom Falls, a rarely formed line near This House of Sky.
 
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Eric starting the climb.
 
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Higher up after putting his first ice screw.
 
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Going up the steeper section.
 
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Nearing the top.
 
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Majestic views of Devil's Head from the top.
 
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Lucie rapping down.
 
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Walking back along the Ghost River after climbing Phantom Falls.
(high res. images are about 300KB)