Saturday, March 24, 2007

Polar Circus has been somewhat of an obsession for me. It is the quintessential ice climb and one that has thwarted me due to wheather, partners and ability on far too many occasions. After getting some encouraging words from a local climber at Magic Mountain and having the only good weather opportunity within a week we decided to test the waters...
The journey begins at the majestic Chateu de Banff. The chateu was built in 1993 and kept original to maintain that rustic charm and certain je ne sais quoi. Like all great climbing trips the plans were hatched over beers and bushmill's.We were beat to the base by a party of Japanese climbers who were apparently pro marathon runners but lackluster climbers. They jogged past us on the approach, then took numerous falls while following the pitches. Here, BJ takes the first pitch, a very respectable and somewhat brittle WI4.
After the initial pitch I took the sharp end up a WI3 that was classic but easily overshadowed by the upper tiers of the climb which come into view soon afterward. The Japanese party can be seen on the first tier.
After enduring a seemingly endless barage of icefall from the flailing climbers BJ finishes off what ended up being a 75m WI4 pitch.

My turn again, climbing through steep snice to some rambly WI2-3 bringing us to the final two-pitch tier.Here I am leading the first pitch on the third tier. It was much more sustained than it initialy appeared. The Japenese climbers are at the belay station on climbers right.

We finished the climb in 11 hours car to car. We estimate that had we not had to wait for the other party we easily could have taken off 2-3 hours. The key is just to move fast both on the snow slogging but especially while leading and following the pitches.