1983 – Day 1 Canada – Ice Climbing – a rude awakening!

1983 Canada - Day one - Grotto Falls. Grade 2?  Basic Gear - can yoy remember the names?

1983 Canada – Day one – Grotto Falls. Grade 2?
Basic Gear – can you remember the names of the gear?

The first trip to Canada in 1983 was a great trip, the best expedition I have ever been on, we went as a group of friends and everything was new. We were one of the first groups ever to visit from the UK it was an incredible time. Tom had read about Canada along with Mark Sinclair in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal in an article by an ex Scots pat Bugs Mc Keith. It told of huge curtains of ice, new routes a mecca for climbers and lots of new routes waiting to be climbed. He never said how steep the ice was and how limited the protection was and little was said about the scary long abseils off. There were few belay stations in these days and everything was very new. It was a long journey to Canada and we arrived in mid winter in Calgarry in -20 normal for the time of year.  We could only afford one car   between the 6 of us  and that meant 2 trips from the airport a 5 hour return trip in mid winter in Canada.  The gear we had was very simple compared with the gear now as was the clothing. We had never climbed ice so steep and long as in Canada it was a huge awaking.  Our gear though was great for the time and  Chouinard rigid  Crampons – a nightmare of bolts but magic on the ice. 12 point adjustable crampons with neoprene straps.Spare screws and allan key in plastic bag. Photo Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection well worth a look.

Scott Mtn Heritage

Look at the website http://www.smhc.co.uk

chounaird crampons Mountain Heritage collection - Copy

Chounaird crampons Scottish  Mountain Heritage collection – Copy

Plastic Boots – wonderful. warm but hard to walk in

Yeti Gaiters – lasted a few weeks on rough ground.

Rohan Trousers – expensive but warm

Whillians Harness – simple harness but a breakthrough at the time. If you fell the early nylon harness cut in the legs on a big fall. Do not fall!

Sticht plate belay device.

Troll tape slings another magic piece of gear. We left so much abseil tat we ran out after two weeks. It was scary abseiling of ice belays!

The Classic Helly Hansen jumper what a great piece of gear.

Chouinard  Frost Axe and hammer marvelous – the thud of the axe in ice was so re assuring

Chouinard zero ice axe. Wooden shaft with metal at base. One hole in middle of head painted blue inside. Adze, serrated pick.Pointed spike on ferrule with two flat sides and a white circle on each.

Dachstein mitts – say no more.

Lightweight helmet, so much more comfort than the Joe Brown.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist
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