Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This House of Sky WI 3 (The Ghost Wilderness Area)

This weekend, we ventured into the Ghost to climb This House of Sky. The road conditions had significantly improved from posts I saw earlier in the week and we were able to get all the way to THOS in the North Ghost without any issues in Kyle's truck. The warm temperatures in the last few days had melted all the drifted snow, but the river in the valley was still frozen solid. It was smooth driving most of the way, but with more melting we may be seeing some ice shelves forming. One spot that might become an issue soon is the bridge at the start of the TA road. There is flooding across the road in that area and some nasty holes in the ice below the flowing water. It didn't cause us any problems but may be getting worse with time.

THOS is such a fun climb. It follows a narrow canyon for many short pitches of WI 2/WI 3 ice up to a large amphitheatre. From there, you can choose to continue upward for a few more pitches of more difficult ice. We were able to solo most of the ice in the canyon, although we put up a rope on some of the longer pitches. There are bolted stations at the top of all the pitches in the canyon, which makes it really easy to move quickly both on the ascent and the rappels. This was my second time on the route and it was even more fun this time around!
Brett on his way up the first ice flow on This House of Sky
 We were climbing as a party of 4, but moved quickly by climbing side by side on some of the wider ice flows. Our efficiency paid off and we reached the top of the canyon quickly, with time to go investigate the upper ampitheatre before heading back to town.
Eric cleaning gear
Double-teaming the ice for alpine efficiency!
Brett belays like a boss
The ice was in surprisingly good shape. After temperatures in the teens in Calgary only days before, we were expecting the route to be quite wet, but that was not the case. There had been some melting, but the route refroze which actually made it seem like the ice was brand new.
Kyle can almost touch the sky 
Climbing up into the great blue yonder
Ice steps on the way up the ampitheatre
Walking up the the WI 4 curtain
  As we approached the curtain at the top of the ampitheatre, it looked scary. The ice did not look very well supported and was pretty fragile. The boys scoped out different options, and Eric ended up leading a line to the far left, which was a bit more supported.
Looks a bit gnarly up there
Icicle views

Kyle was totally enticed by a line up the right side, which started behind the main curtain and worked its way up the side then out onto an ice pillar near the top. He thought about it for a long time before giving it a try.

Kyle scopes out his line
 Not far up, he changed his mind. He asked Eric to put up a top rope above the pitch and gave it another go. He was pretty happy with that decision because the higher he got, the more challenging the line became, not to mention that the ice was brittle and the big pillar was unsupported. It seemed like a wise choice to me!
Climbing the inner pillar
 We hung out at the curtain for a while, eating lunch and top roping. We could have climbed higher up the last few pitches, but needed to be back in town for Brett's dinner plans. You never know how long the drive out of the Ghost will be! We leap-frogged rappels on the way down and celebrated a fun day out with a BBQ at the bottom of the route. It turns out we had plenty of time, but it was nice to be back in town in daylight!
Jenny is cold

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