The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A new alpine ice route?

We headed back into Totem Creek yesterday, which is the main drainage system south of Mt Murchison & North of Totem Tower which opens out into a beautiful hidden valley to the back of that range.
If you blink then you'll probably miss a view of the top of the route! but drive slowly enough & stop 20km north of Bow Summit, heading towards Jasper along the Icefields Parkway & you'll see it. It's at a point where Totem Creek meets the main Icefields Parkway (the creek isn't signed from the road), stop & look east & you'll just about make out the top of the route finishing up a steep corner crammed in amongst steep rock walls.

After 2hrs of breaking trail up the creek bed & through the pine forest in bad unconsolidated snow we got our first views of the route.
The orange line shows yesterdays approach into the route -  the slopes directly beneath the route were to unstable to cross.
Me approaching the route, high on the side of the valley.
Amazing scenery, with Dean enjoying the views across the valley to Howse Peak & Mt Kit
Dean ejoying the technical & thin sections of ice, low down on the route.
Dean climbing the thin ice sections of ice, which lead up to the base of the steep pillar
Me seconding the lower thinner sections of ice - the route & approach had a real alpine feel about it.
Me starting up the steep pillar which was the crux of the route & much steep than it looked from down below!
The pillar was steep, very steep! - it was narrow at the bottom & had filled out at the top making the second half of the pillar a little over 90 degrees! & with the ice not having been climbed on before the placements for both the axes & feet were hard won.
A foreshortened view from below - me ejoying some great steep climbing on the central pillar.
Dean working hard, but loving the steep pillar - high up on what we named 'Wild Horses' WI6, Totem Tower, Alberta, Canadian Rockies 
Dean pulling over the top of the steep pillar.
Great views west to Mt Kit & Howse Peak on the other side of the valley.
Dean heading up & enjoying the final 55m WI4 pitch on 'Wild Horses'
'Wild Horses' - WI6, 160m, Totem Tower, Alberta, Canadian Rockies
Retracing our steps back out, avoiding the unstable snow slopes directly below the route
A great alpine ice line, fantastic weather, amazing views across to Mt've got to love the Canadian Rockies!
Wild Horses - WI6, Totem Tower, Alberta
Heading back down after what we hope was the first ascent of this beautiful alpine ice route. We did as much homework as we could researching the route but couldn't find out any information about this line anywhere......we had to assume that it could be a first ascent
Our first break all day, before the 3 hour hike back down the valley to the Icefields Parkway &  then back to Lake Louise.
Dean enjoying the stop as much as I did..........the views & weather were amazing.
Exhausted on the descent, breaking trail in waist deep, unconsolidated, rotten snow for 3hrs................ but enjoying the adventure!
Our last view of the route, before heading back down the valley towards the Icefields Parkway.

A great day & hopefully a new route.......but if not, we had a fantastic adventure.
Safe climbing

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