Monday, March 12, 2007

Ice Conditions: Chantilly Falls (Mar 12)

With heavy rain falling all night, we needed a safe venue for a multi-pitch day. This much rain in mid-March is pushing our realm of experience so descision making needs to be very conservative. High avalanche hazard, road closures and the concern of rock fall limited our options. We decided on Chantilly Falls in Evan-Thomas Creek in Kananaskis Country. Moderate rain on the hike in gave way to graupel at the base of the route. Temperature at 9am was +4 C. The ice was very plastic (one hit shit) but had lots of surface water flowing over it thus saturating ropes, slings and gloves. It was definitely a Gore-tex day. The only rock fall observed was a few small rocks releasing left of the climb when we first arrived. Other than that surprising little in the way of natural rock fall. Having said that, there is much unfrozen loose rubble to either side of the ice that is easily knocked off with careless feet and/or rope work. This evening in Canmore, temperatures are already returning to more seasonal values which should gradually improve conditions on routes that were not overly affected by the recent rain storm. It is fair to assume that lower elevation routes took a beating and if still standing should be treated as structurally suspec. Example: "Hers" in Grotto Canyon crashed down today as reported by a fellow guide on Grotto Falls.

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