The sun has been baking the west facing climbs relentlessly these last few days. We've been waiting for a cloudy day to have a go at "Polar Circus" (there's a fair amount of steep snow above it...) and this is just not happening! After waking up for 2 days in a row at pre-dawn hours just to stare at the stars, we have enough and decide to head out for an easy day out on the Lower Weeping Wall. We still have one more "line" to climb: "Right Hand", a 3 pitch route that stays close to the right (duh!) side of the wall. Given the warm temperatures, no doubt this will feel like beach climbing, so we get an early start.

The crowds have not yet arrived when we gear up at the parking lot. After the quick ten-minute approach, I take the first lead. This full 60m pitch leads to a comfy bolted belay on a rock ledge just right of the bottom of the obvious ice "dihedral" that marks the route. It's easy climbing on soft ice and a good warm up for the upper pitches, which are much steeper.

Eric quickly joins me at the belay ledge and starts leading the second pitch. He's completely out of rope when he calls off belay. I take him off and head up. The second pitch is much steeper than the first but the friendly, plastic ice makes the climbing easy. It's a beautiful sunny day - great views of Athabasca and Andromeda.

A shorter pitch up a steep pillar deposits us on the huge snow ledge that separates the Upper from the Lower Weeping Wall. After a short break on the ledge, we go down the recently rebolted rap route at the right end of the wall (climber's right). This rap route starts from chains around the trunk of a huge tree and leads straight down to the base of the wall in three long raps (double 60 meter ropes) from beefy bolted anchors.

Back at the base, we're just amazed at how warm it feels - with a little imagination, this could be mistaken for the beach! A quick stroll down the donkey trail and we're unloading our gear at the Jeep. We have lunch on the parking lot, smiling at the tourists who drive by and snap pictures of the climbers.

We're back at the bus in early afternoon and pack our gear for the next day. The weather radio is announcing cloudy weather for tomorrow so Polar Circus may be in the cards...

Right Hand (Lower Weeping Wall), AB

March 13, 2004 / WI5, 160m
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Winter camping along the Icefields Parkway (picnic area between Rampart Creek Hostel and the Weeping Wall).
 
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You really can't miss it!
 
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Lower and Upper Weeping Walls as seen from highway. "Right Hand" is shown in red.
 
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Lucie starting the long first pitch (WI3/4).
 
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Taking a break.
 
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Before traversing right to the small rock ledge (fixed anchor).
 
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Looking north toward Athabasca and Andromeda.
 
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Eric starting the second pitch (WI5).
 
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Higher on the same pitch.
 
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Views from the belay ledge.
 
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Eric starting up the last pitch (WI5).
 
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Higher on the 3rd pitch.
 
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Stemming up the last 20 feet.
 
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Nearing the top.
 
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On the short hike back to the car.
 
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The Weeping Wall parking lot.
 
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Usual busy day on the Lower Weeping Wall (7 climbers in the picture).
(high res. images are about 300KB)