Today was the final day of the ice course… a bittersweet experience because it was an awesome climb… but the final climb. We met early (7:00am) today at the Bagel shop. Joining us were two Mountain Guides in training: Mikey and Philip. Eric had a meeting with them regarding avalanche reports and safety. It was decided that beacons were not needed on today’s journey to Rogan’s Gully.

Rogan’s Gully is located in Banff National Park. The arrived just as the sun’s first rays peaked over the horizon revealing a large herd of elk on the Banff Airfield. We shouldered our packs and headed up the climbers trail. We scaled the flanks of Cascade Mountain and traversed several meters above the normal approach to avoid the heavy avalanche debris that had accumulated. The incline was steep, but nothing I’m not accustomed too. We were at the base of the climb in about 45 minutes.

Eric tied into the lead end. Then we tied a figure 8 on a bite with a long loop. I tired into the loop and Jeanelle tied into the end. Thus the two of us would not impact each other if we fell as Eric belayed us up at the same time. Nino set up to lead the Philip and Mikey. The first pitch was probably a WI2. The double follow method worked very well though communication is esencial especially when climbing over a bulge or narrow space. We reached Eric and clipped into the chain anchor and waited for the rest of the group. We didn’t need the rope for the middle section fo the climb. Avalanche debris littered the gully concealing the ice. We simply walked on top of it using one ice tool as an ice ax in case self arrest was needed. The final pitch was a gorgeous WI3 ice flow; steep and long! What a wonderful pitch to top out on! We ate lunch in the shade of the two rocky summits of Cascade Mountain before we began us decent. We competed a double rope rappel off of the long waterfall pitch and then simple walked down roped up glacier style to the first pitch. This was a single rope rappel. Both rappels had chains or webbing.

It was about 3:30 by the time we reached the base. A wonderful mutlipitch day in great company. We met up later for a farewell dinner at the Grizzley Paw Brewing Company. Tomorrow I will board my plane and head back to the Pacific Northwest where ice is scarce and snow is still for want this year.

I would recommend any course offered by Mountain Skills Academy to anyone in search of gaining outdoor skills and a memorable experience.


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