Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thunder Bay Ice Climbing and Family -- Part II

Day -- 4 -March 21st. Today started early, 7 am then a 1.5 hour drive out to Nipigon. We crossed the infamous bridge that split Canada in half for a few days, and then stopped on the way for some iconic Canadian cuisine. 

Canadian Cuisine

The infamous bridge

Today we climbed at Orient Bay. The most famous of Thunder Bay ice cragging areas. We started at the far end with Andromeda Weeps (WI4-). This climb sits in the shade, and was bitterly cold. Apparently all of my Canadian toughness has been melted out mild California weather. Being above my pay grade, Kyle led this one. We did both pitches. The ice was rock hard, a reminder of what Thunder Bay ice climbing can be like. No wussy plastic California ice here.

Kyle rocking Andromeda Weeps

We stopped for a quick lunch, then headed over to climb Tempest (WI2+). Its a massive apron of ice, a full 60 meter rope pitch to the top. This being in my pay grade, I took a turn on lead.

Mega classic: Tempest

Me heading up Tempest

It was great to get back into the sun, and warm up my wussy body. Final climb of the day, Amy R (WI2+). Another easy climb for me to lead. Thanks to Kyle for letting me get so much lead practice on these easy moderates.

Thanks Bro!
My 3rd ice lead of the trip!

Kyle examining some of the ice formations.

After a long day of climbing, another awesome Mom cooked meal followed by a couple of hours of catching up with one of my oldest friends (Eli Nix). Tomorrow the plan is to head to Kama Bay

Day 5 -- March 22nd - Today we headed out to Kama Bay, another classic ice climbing crag. First up was Thermocules, a WI3+ in a neat chimney/gully. Some vertical steps then a tricky umbrella crux exit. Very cool. As per formula, Kyle led through it without breaking a sweat.

Views at Kama Bay

Thermocules. Notice the death ice block up to the right
We hiked over to Hell's Chimney which looked wild, and a bit above my skill level, so instead we headed back to car, and drive over a few km to hike into some ice climbs hidden in the trees. These climbs had a super interesting approach, where we hiked up a frozen creek bed, climbing short ice steps as we went. On the way up Kyle's crampon fell off, and he took a whipper on the WI1 approach

Crampon Fail

On the approach

Toping out one of the approach steps

We arrived at the climbs, and did a couple of laps, one up a WI3+/-WI4 line, then another WI3 line. Super fun!

Kyle demonstrating the proper tripod climbing technique

Almost up!
I was exhausted after today's climb. Three days straight of climbing is starting to wear me down a bit. Only one more day in town, so tomorrow's plan is to climb in the morning then visit Chris in the afternoon. I wish I had a few more days! Its been such an amazing week. Living life by following your passion is the most enriching, and full filling experience possible.

Day 6 -- March 23rd. Last Day! 
Feeling a bit sad today, its been such a great trip. I could use a few more days. For the last day of climbing we decided to take a bit easy, so that I would have some free time in the afternoon for time visiting. We drove over to climb Feaver Falls (WI3).  From the road, the climb looks fairly close, but its actually a bit of a trek to the base!

Feaver Falls in the distance
The approach goes up a steep snow gully, with waist deep snow, and -18C temperatures (that 0F for my m'errican friends). Finally some of the cold Thunder Bay winter weather I remember! All the recent fresh temps created a frozen layer on the climb that would come flying off when hit with ice tools. A bit sketchy!

Kyle racking up in the cold
Feaver Falls

A very fun climb despite the weird conditions. We slid down the hill, then to the Neebing Road House for some burgers and beer!

Beer time!
After climbing I paid a visit to Chris, another old friend. It was great to see him doing so well. Dinner at the Keg with the family in the evening. Overall a great trip. I wish I had more time. Its back to the granite domes of California, and a pile of grading tomorrow.

Food with the Family

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