I'm back and The T- wall
So, it has been over a year since I've written anything on this blog. Kinda thought I was maybe done with it. Surely anyone that once followed it has probably given up on it. Not that it has been a dull year, quite contrary. Bought a house, became a mountain guide, had a baby, ran a rapidly growing business, did some great climbs, biked a ton, still married ;-). Really, the only excuse is I have been too busy living life to write about it.
Well recently I was asked to open my data bank and lend some musings to one of my heros, local ice climbing legend Bruce Hendricks, on a place called the Terminator wall or Trophy Wall, above the town of Banff, high on Mt Rundle. Although I had written route descriptions and journal notes of my experiences on this famous climbing area in the past I must have deleted them all, as none could be found. So, I decided to put a few new words down that explained some of my thoughts on this place and what it meant and still means to me.
Copyright Andrew Querner. 'Haunted by Waters'
It was feb 2004 that I took my first climbing course. I drove out from Saskatoon and spent 3 days on an intro to ice climbing course, culminating in an ascent of Louise Falls with Barry Blanchard.
Immediately hooked but without access to climbing culture, let alone magazines or books, I somehow wrangled my first climbing magazine which serendipitously was full of ice climbing lore from the previous Ice season in the Rockies.
It was the Dec 2004 Climbing mag with joejoe on the cover and to date one of my favourite articles on climbing, the Sea of Vapors account by Bruce Hendricks. The mag was also riddled with the name Barry Blanchard aka Bubba and I began to realize that I was in good hands the previous season. My holy grail of climbing was defined and my heroes were set in stone.
Is was Feb 27, 1999, on my 24th birthday, that I first got to climb Sea to Vapors and fulfil my dream. It the first ascent of that season and it was a ground breaking achievement for both Eamonn and I. We decided to descend Professor Falls after our climb and passed a solo climber off while we rappelled. It was Bruce Hendricks, we felt mighty proud.
It was a year later, exactly, another birthday present, that I wandered up to the Terminator Wall for another route. This time with a bad ass Kiwi named Pat Deavoll and ambitions to climb a mixed start to the Replicant. My friends thought it would be too smooth and water worn to climb but Pat was keen. We went up with a massive rack, including aid climbing gear (which I didn't know how to use and lucky didn't have to), and a self drive bolt kit. I broke the first 60 meters into 2 pitches which were very mixed with very thin ice and 3 roofs with small ice daggers pouring over. It was the climb and lead of my life, perhaps even to this day. Although the climbing was very serious and runout I did end up placing a bolt below the final roof; the same roof that Bruce climbed when he did another route up there called Troubled Dreams. I placed the bolt in a place to ensure it wouldn't change the nature of Troubled Dreams. My bolt was 4 meters below the roof and would still result in a harmful fall, but not a death fall. Needless to say, I was still worried about this ethic and that I would be criticized by one of my heroes. In retrospect I wish everybody had a guilty conscious as I did back then.
In Jan 2001, almost a year after Stuck in the Middle, I headed back to repeat the magic I had experienced the year before with my eyes set on the three roofs, from which ice poured over but didn't touch, below Sea of Vapors. We took the same massive rack as we did before so we would have every chance to climb this without bolts. In this case the decision was easy. A 5 foot horizontal roof with not even a seam through it. We placed a few bolts to allow passage to a very gymnastic and rarely climbed route. We called it Haunted by Waters, a tribute to the first ascent of Sea of Vapors, our heroes, and the opening lines of Bruce's Dec 1994 article which Bruce took from the final words of Norman MacLeans book "A River Runs Through It".
Although I climb on the Terminator Wall every chance I get, my final magical experience was with none other than Guy Lacelle. In December 2003 we hiked up there intent on doing the first free ascent of T2, the mixed start to the Terminator. The only problem was that the Terminator was actually touching down and I had never climbed it. I had walked up to it a week earlier but it was soaking wet and only a body width thick at the base. Still, I thought this may be my chance to actually climb the true Terminator. I asked Guy as we walked and he was much more interested in the mixed line as he had climbed the Terminator countless times, including the second ascent in 1986 and a solo ascent. Luckily for all the decision was made for us. As we approached the from the left, just before crossing below the climb, the whole pillar collapsed and came crashing down. After the initial shock, Guy and I looked at each other and said "well, at least now it's safe". The climb was serious and hard, both on the rock and the ice. The aid bolts from the previous ascent were not in reach and again I had a pure magical experience up on the wall with a very special man.
That's all. Let's hope it's not another year before I find 15 minutes to share a story. ....or on the other hand maybe maybe we should.