Tuesday, January 23, 2007

M - Climbing in the Ghost

The Ghost Valley is in the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains. Sort of Halfway between Cochrane and Banff, only it would be a tricky walk so no-one thinks of it quite like that. We have been there a few times now, for rock climbing while it was still possible, and more recently for ice climbing.

We have joined forces with the Calgary Mountain Club who claim that they "don't stand on ceremony for anyone" a kind of anti-alpine club with no official trips, just bunches of people who go out climbing. The Alpine Club here is tangled in a web of liability waivers and insurance premiums. CMC meetings are held at the pub, and the trips might as well be! Last weekend was our first outing with these enthusiastic folk.

Access into the Ghost is strictly 4WD beyond a point known as The Big Hill for obvous reasons. We figured we would take our car that far though, and we did get it there and back again eventually! My down jacket is now filthy from digging snow out from under the car. We were put to shame however, one CMC member rode out on his bicycle, carrying full ice climbing gear, about 100kms the last quarter of which is on an icy, snowy gravel road. Leaving after work on Friday evening he pulled into camp just before 1am.

On the Saturday we climbed a route called "This House of Sky" which is a bit like reverse canyoning. You start at the bottom and climb up the variously sized frozen waterfalls. I felt a bit like I was intruding on the privacy of the stream, caught in a vulnerable moment. This place would be near to inacessable in the summer (from the bottom anyway.)

Sunday morning, Grant and Lachlan who we had been climbing with the previous weekend arrived, and the four of us went into the Valley of the Birds area. The CMC crew took their hangovers back to Calgary.

Renting gear has it's drawbacks - Josh lashes his crampons on (again)

Lachlan rossing the Ghost River - we will do ANYTHING to keep our boots dry in -15c

Merewyn on "This House of Sky"

Lachlan leading "Yellow Bird" (WI4)

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