Multi-pitchin’ on Professor Falls

Time for a long overdue blog post!  Seems the last few months have been unusually busy for me and the end doesn’t quite seem in sight yet.  My anthropology course, while interesting, has proven to be more work than I had anticipated and much of my spare time has been taken up with skiing or reading about hunter-gatherers in the Paleolithic and Mesolithic (I promise it *is* more interesting than it sounds)!

I did take 3 weeks off in February, from skiing and climbing at least, when I sprained my knee and ankle skiing.  It turns out that ankle injuries are quite limiting in what you can do so I got caught up on my coursework and had time to ruminate about my balance between outdoor activities and downtime.  I’m not a very happy person when I spend all my free time sitting around but I also need a fair amount of downtime each week to decompress from work and relax. To this point, Eliz’s recent blog post on feeling the need to do awesome things all the time echoed exactly what I’d been thinking.

On to the topic of this blog post, I finally got the chance to ice climb Professor Falls.  Every year my girlfriend and I spend the weekend in Canmore and pick something fun and adventurous to do.  This year we decided on Professor Falls which is 5 pitches long and has one hell of an approach!  It’s off Mt. Rundle in between Banff and Canmore but needs to be accessed from Banff.  You park in Banff in the Bow Falls parking lot by the barriers and from there it’s a long bike ride, followed by hike in.  From what I’ve read it’s about 7km in and that felt about right.  We were only able to bike to the end of the plowed Parks Canada road at which point we had to ditch the bikes as it was too hard to ride them in the snow.  Sarah Hueniken led us up in 5 pitches and it was so nice that each pitch we did coincided with a large flat area to stand around and belay.  The climbing was great!  It didn’t feel too hard and it was warm enough to make the ice soft without being too wet.  Reversing the approach turned out to be the hardest part! Nothing like a 7km slog back out but this time with wet and frozen ropes slowing you down!  I still had a great day and it’s pretty cool to drive by the icefall now and think: “yup, I climbed that!”

Here’s a few pics from the climb.  It was overcast that day instead of sunny which made the warm weather more comfortable though it didn’t do any wonders for my photography :)

Professor Falls from the base

Professor Falls from the base


Waiting around while tucked behind the ice curtain


Some of the ice had formed some really interesting features!


Sarah H. leading


Looking back down at the valley & the Trans-Can


Last few pitches!