The only students today were me and Jeanelle, carpooled with Eric after meeting him at the Summit Cafe, to Grotto Canyon on the outskirts of Canmore. Again the trail was mostly flat, but extremely icy so we walked with care. The Canyon flooded last year. Eric pointed out the bolts along the canyon walls. Once they had been high from the canyon floor offering protection. Now though, with the flooding causing a build up of rock, soil and debris on the ground, you could easily reach up and touch the first bolts of the routes. The floods did not wash away the Native American Pictographs painted in faded red on some of the walls.

The canyon eventually led us to two folks. Two ice formations were frozen to the wall. Eric set up a top rope on the left formation. It was overhung and steep, a W4. He cautioned us to keep our hips to the ice just like in rock climbing as we ascended. He told me that i should be good at overhangs because I’m short. I did fairly well. I fell once on the route due to bad foot placement… I would not lead a W4, but it was a great top rope.

After Jeanelle completed the climb we began to talk about dry tooling… or the fine art of using ice tools and crampons on rock. It is a delicate sport for certain and requires creative placements. It is amazing what tiny indentations will hold your weight if you keep the pressure exactly right… move the pressure in the wring direction and you fall!. Eric demonstrated dry tooling as he climbed the dry tooling route beside the ice we had just climbed. He emphasized resting every 2-3 moves. It is easy to get pumped and you WILL get pumped. You just have to control how much. He was fluid on the wall, never fast or spastic. Everything was thought out and he clipped the bolts and transferred to the ice before topping out in no time. It was a different story for us.

Rest. Resting is so important. Jeanelle and I took turns attempting the M7-8 climb (which was established by Eric). Each time we got a bit higher up. On my second and third attempts I was very fluid and precise since i had memorized the moves and didn’t try to rush things. I made it onto the ice at one point and began to climb up the waterfall, but the quick-draw pulled me off since it was yanking me in the opposite direction (plus I need more practice!). For sure this is a sport I want to get much better yet. It is addicting! And it will make you a better overall climber.

After Jeanelle and I killed our arms Eric set up a top rope on the left ice flow. This route was fantastic. you go through the back of the waterfall and come to the front via climbing through a hole! This was the most fun route I completed this far. Getting out of the hole required lots of finesse and presented a unique challenge! The perfect close to the day.


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