Monday, November 27, 2017

Cline River Gallery Ice Climbing - David Thompson Highway

Cline River Gallery: "the approach is as difficult to describe as the climbs are to find," - Cyril Shokoples. Well, it would help if the description started you off in the right direction... We spent about an hour wandering around on a mossy hillside in search of ice before backtracking. Ignoring the directions from the Jo Josephson book that sent us left up a hill, the opposite way from the river and any sort of ice, we found a set of bootprints that we decided to follow. Shortly after we saw a party of climbers far below us who actually knew where they were going, which was lucky because I don't think we would have found the climbs otherwise, even though we were very close. We descended a steep hill and arrived at the climbs, making a mental note to not go back the way we had come. We returned the following day on the trail that we found on our hike out (read on for approach instructions).
Taking a nice mossy detour up the "hill to the left with a faint draw"
Cline River Gallery Approach
Park at the Pinto Lake parking area just south of where the David Thompson Highway crosses the Cline River. There is a gravel pit with lots of space to park. Follow the double track up a hill from the gravel pit, past a sign that says "no motorized vehicles beyond this point." 

The trail passes through a number of campsites (and a well hidden backcountry toilet to the left) and continues along the double track on a flat bench for a few hundred metres before you reach a fork. Take the right fork on a single track that is marked by orange/pink flagging and yellow duct tape. This trail descends steeply to a lower bench on the southern bank of the Cline River (left side as you walk up the river). Continue along the bank, passing occasional flagging for about 20 minutes, eventually passing a few ice flows on the other side of the river, until the Cline River Gallery comes into view. 

Keep following the trail to yet another fire pit. Here the trail forks again and you can descend right down an easy gully to the edge of the river and the bottom of "Pure Energy." Alternately, keep left and contour the hillside to access the top of the climbs where you can set up top ropes off various trees.

Approach time: ~30 mins in low snow conditions.
Double track up from the gravel pit. Sign visible from parking area
Wide "double track" along an upper bench. Small trail marker on the tree - there were a few of these (inconsistent)
Fork in the trail marked with flagging and tape. Take the right fork down the hill
Single track down the hill - orange flagging on tree
Cline River Gallery comes into view from the bank of the river (Sentinel Mountain rises up above the river on the left)
We spent two days doing laps on the climbs at the Gallery. Our first day was spent on some of the short, steep upper flows on the left side, and we had a few ropes going to give us lots of mileage. Day 2 was spent on Pure Energy, climbing different lines and waking up the ice climbing muscles after a nice long summer.
Kyle on the short, steep ice pitches on the lookers left of the Gallery
Connor rappelling into the ice, Mt. Stelfox in the background
Jenny just hanging around
Connor is so excited to be ice climbing again
Views of the Cline River from the riverbed below the Gallery
Connor on Pure Energy (the icicles of the unformed "are you afraid of the dark" to the left)
Kyle on the hard left line of Pure Energy (WI 4+ vs WI 5?)
Sopping wet and having fun ice climbing in the rain
View looking over the gravel pit and Abraham Lake in the distance
We really lucked out. I don't think there was much ice anywhere else this past weekend. Despite some rain on Sunday afternoon, we had a great time! There was plenty of ice to play on and it was in great shape. It was also super fun to check out a completely new area that I knew nothing about. I will definitely be back for some of the classics in the area, once the temperatures drop and things start to form up again.
Hungry ice climbers in their natural habitat

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