Ice climbers are a colorful, creative bunch who creatively name waterfall ice then rate them for length and difficulty. Some examples of the bizarre names given to frozen waterfalls are: Acid Howl, Bette Davis’ Sneeze, Crystal Tear, Dancing with Chaos, Echo Madness, Fang and Fist, French Connection, Golden Showers, Hypertension and many I cannot repeat in a family oriented article.
Today Dave and I are climbing Chantilly Falls, a 100 metre, WI-2 to the side of Evan-Thomas Creek in Kananaskis Country. There are many ice climbing opportunities in Kananaskis with easy, short access.
We park at Wedge Pond and off-trail north through several inches of fresh powder, then hike east up Evan-Thomas Creek. Ice climbing boots have ledges and notches for a tight crampon fit and very stiff, unbending soles which provide a sturdy standing platform on vertical ice. Having a crampon break free from the boot while climbing is not a particularly comfortable occurrence. For hiking, the boots are useless and can be downright dangerous, however to avoid changing boots in very cold weather, I hike in them using instep crampons which are small and easy to stow and give the slippery soles good stick to flat ground.
The hike up Evan-Thomas Creek is through beautiful winter scenery and the partially frozen creek contains several examples of snow mushrooms, fresh snow on boulder surfaces above water level in the crystal-clear, very cold water. The frozen waterfall off to the south side is imposing from a distance. The moderate slant could be climbed without rope but there are a couple of short sections approaching WI-3 and we default to safety with rope. The worst that could happen without rope would be an exciting short fall and long slide back to the bottom. Driving the axes in would likely stop the slide for a regroup. Our climb is straightforward without incident and views from the top of a winter wonderland are breathtaking.
Two groups have arrived behind us and are waiting for us to complete before they begin their climb. Whoever gets their ropes up first owns the ice. It is understood and a matter of courtesy. For falls like Grotto and Troll, you want to arrive very early in the day or be prepared to wait for potentially a long time.