Chris Kulp • Banff Waterfall Climbing • March 2004

For some 7 or 8 years Chris has come up to Banff for a bit a waterfall bashing. This year we explored a few new areas (for us) and were also joined by friend and colleague, Mike (rope gun) Powers for some of our climbs.

The 2004 season was superb, with lots and lots of very fat ice. If ever was the time to tick off a few of the more challenging routes, while they were fat and "easy", this was the year. The weather was warm while we were there, but this only made the ice soft and agreeable. Avalanche hazard was a concern, and some routes were ruled out because of it. But there was so much that was good, that it hardly seemed to matter.

Other Recent Trips

On our first day, we did Louise Falls, a classic we have done several times in the past. But it is so good that it is hard to resist. Chris hams it up for the camera in front of the falls.


Chris leads the first pitch, which heads out left under the roof.


This year, a thin smear of ice formed to the left of the main falls. This is a fun two-pitch route that goes at about grade 4. A bit thin in the bottom, the route becomes fat in the middle then thins again at the tip and narrows to an amusing more technical finish.


Chris arrives at the belay for the first pitch of the "thin smear".


Fro our second day's fun, we climbed the super-classic Guinness Stout. This is a wonderful route. Though the regular Guinness Gully, which climbs the first four pitches of the "Stout" is great in and of itself, the upper pitches of the "Stout", seen here, should not be missed. On the last long pitch, we climbed just slightly to the right of the sun-shade pillar, straight up the middle.


Chris on the last 20 feet of Guinness Stout, with the Trans-Canada Highway in the valley below.


On day 3 we climbed Panther Falls. This is a fun short route, with lots of character. Recently, many ultra-hard mixed routes Including what some claim to be the hardest in the world!) are being put up in the cave to the right of the falls.


While we were on Panther, a fellow named Scott (I believe) was working on some M13 (ridiculously hard) route in the cave. we watched for a bit, amazed at his strength and skill.


There is always a lot of water running on Panther Falls. Just to the side of where we climbed we could punch through thin ice and look into a waterfall filled "elevator shaft". Falling into one of these is a nightmare I hope never to experience. To the side the ice was nice and thick.


Chris leads out the last exit pitch of Panther Falls.


On day four we bumped up the difficulty a bit and headed to Carslburg Column, a classic grade 5 near Field. As with many routes this year, the fat ice made it feel more like grade 4+ (not that I'm complaining). Here, Mike Powers does the entire 55 meter crux falls in one glorious pitch.


Chris leads on pitch 2 of Carlsberg Column. This pitch actually lies below the pitch shown just above. But I wanted to show the main falls first.


Chris climbs the initial ice of the main falls of Carlsberg.


The following day, our fifth, we went into the Ghost River area. This is a wonderful place, drier than the main climbing areas along the Banff-Jasper Highway, more remote and filled with adventure. Our first route that day was Wicked Wanda.

Normally this route offers tricky 4+ climbing around the big wind-blown cave. This year, fat ice on the left kept the difficulty to a more straightforward grade 4 or so. Mike Powers fights with his pack in this photo.


Looking down Wicked Wanda.


After Wicked Wanda we hiked west a bit into the next canyon. Here we found Anorexia Nervosa. this is a fun two-pitch route, no doubt named by the narrow nature of the first pitch. In this photo you can just make out Chris on the first pillar.


For our last day we went up to Pilsner Pillar. Usually this is a very hard climb, but with the fat conditions of 2004, it was a more reasonable grade 5. Mike "Powers" up the left pillar. We had so much fun here, that we ended up doing laps.


Chris on Pilsner Pillar. On our second lap we went straight up the pillar, enjoying an amusing bit of mixed climbing at the very top.


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