Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Valley of the Birds

Brett and I have been making plans to go the the Ghost together since we met 2.5 years ago. Finally we actually took some initiative to make it happen! We got off to a slow start. I had forgot the cooler of smokies and beer for after the climb so we had to stop in Cochrane for groceries on the way out of town. Unfortunately, the stores didn't open until 8 and we arrived at 7:45. This made it an obvious choice to stop for cinnamon buns at the Coffee Traders Cafe. Yum!
Fueling up with coffee and cinnamon buns before we head into the Ghost
We quickly picked up our groceries then hit the road. We weren't sure what to expect from the access road because there had been large drifts earlier in the week, which were followed by warm temperatures. It turned out to be the easiest access we have ever had because the river was completely frozen. We only had 2 river crossings near GBU which were a breeze. We parked at the bottom of the Valley of the Birds. Kyle and I had rubber boots for the river crossing but they were not necessary as there was a log down across the water. The 50 metre approach was nice and we were on ice before we knew it. The approach ice appeared thin, but apparently it had healed up significantly from earlier in the week.
Brett puts up a rope for me on some of the Valley of the Birds approach ice
The approach had lots of log climbing
Kyle wanted to climb Seagull, a WI 4 on the climbers left side of the valley. We passed the climbs Dead Bird and Yellow Bird on the way. Dead Bird looked pretty much non-existent. Yellow Bird seemed quite thin at the bottom, but Brent Peters and his clients were up climbing it and it looked like they were having a good time. The next climb up the valley was Seagull and we arrived just as another group was starting up the short pitch below the route. The other climbers were Kevin and Reina, who had been in the Bugaboos at the same time as us last summer! Small world.
Looking up at Seagull and its approach ice from the bottom of the Valley
We took our time to get set up while the others climbed, then Brett led us up the short step and set up a belay on the bolts up to the right. Kyle was excited to lead the Seagull, a 30 m steep pitch. It was his first clean lead of a WI 4! Yay Kyle! Reina was able to capture the moment from above and took some awesome photos of us too.
Kyle leading Seagull WI 4
Photo: Reina Hasumi
There was a bolted station at the top of the route and we set up a top rope so we could try a few different lines up the pitch. We tackled 3 different lines and enjoyed hanging out in the nice weather. The left line was steeper and chandeliered, while the right line was more featured, with better ice, but a bit wet out to the far right. 
Photo: Reina Hasumi
Kyle climbing Seagull with Reina taking photos from above
It was a quick descent back to the truck, mostly down climbing with the occasional rappel. Next time we will have to head up the valley and check out some of the other climbs. The other groups went up and climbed the Eagle and said that it was in good shape too.
Tailgate BBQ after a great day of climbing

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