Will Gadd ice climbing fest in Canada
Two massive first ascents in Canada: The Jimmy Skid Rig (WI5 M12, 300m, Will Gadd, Will Meinen and Brandon Pullan) and Hunlen Falls (5.9 A2, 370m, Will Gadd & EJ Plimley).
In a quest to experience his best ice climbing season ever, Will Gadd has recently carried out two important first winter ascents in Canada. The first is "The Jimmy Skid Rig", a 300m mixed outing up Mount Pigeon in Alberta. The route had been started three years ago by Will Meinen and Brandon Pullan from Ontario, and the duo had invested two seasons attempting to climb the line ground up before recruiting Will Gadd to free the hardest pitches.
On 30 January Gadd did just as he was told and the impressive line now stands free at WI5 M12. Gadd says, "It's a great line. I'm not sure of the grade to be honest, but hard enough to give anyone a good pump. It's a full-day kind of experience, yeah!"
Just climbing this line would be enough to satiate most, but Gadd's appetite for ice is infamous and a fortnight later he travelled to the Hunlen Falls in the Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in British Columbia. At 370m this waterfall is recognised as being the 25th tallest in the world but according to Gadd probably the tallest which can actually freeze over.
The 42 year old Canadian, winner of the first ever Ice Climbing World Cup in 2000, timed the climb carefully and after a failed attempt earlier this year due to unstable conditions, on February 13th he flew to Turner Lake above the icefall by ski plane together with 6 other climbers.
Despite five days of -25°C the Hunlen Falls had still not frozen completely; Gadd teamed up with EJ Plimley nevertheless and early on 14 February the two abseiled down the route on the right-hand side, then raced back up the fall in an eight hour push while ice blocks pounded down to their left. The duo placed mainly dubious protection and although the route has been rated 5.9 A2, perhaps Gadd's final description sums up the climb more than anything else: "without a doubt the most dangerous and exciting climb I've ever seen."