Showing posts from February, 2012

A professor sprays

When I first heard about Helmcken Falls like a lot of people I focused on the number. Will Gadd and Tim Emmett, who pioneered the first route on the overhanging spray ice in the cave behind the falls, gave it the unprecedented WI10 grade. Knowing Will (and having since come to know Tim) I did not doubt the difficulty of the climbing, but I questioned to what extent a bolt-protected route up some icicles dripping from the ceiling of a cave could be called an ice climb. Whenever people asked me when I would go and check the place out, I answered that while it was undoubtedly very cool, I had better things to do, thank you very much. It was not until last month that I finally made the long drive to Wells Gray Provincial Park. There were a few other people going, so I figured at the very least it would be a fun social time. And it was January in the Rockies, not exactly prime time for going high. The waterfall looked big from the viewpoint, but it was not until I stood on the spray cone

Industrial climbing

There is something ugly and industrial about drytooling. To begin with there is the fact that one does not experience the rock directly, with one's hands and feet, but through metal tools. The scraping of steel on stone is something one might expect to hear on a factory floor, not in a quiet wintry valley. Even the movement is somehow angular and mechanical, not fluid and organic like in rock climbing. And yet there is something compelling about drytooling - perhaps as compelling as Chouinard's runaway locomotive. The Jimmy Skid Rig (TJSR), a route that enjoyed some notoriety on Rockies' Internet bulletin boards three years back , is a nice example of the good, bad and ugly sides of drytooling. Last month I finally got past the route's initial hype and subsequent obscurity and actually experienced it for myself. It did not happen by design. Jon Walsh and I left the city at an uncivilized hour to wrap up a project on the Headwall. Two hours later we pulled into the St