Today out my window in downtown Canmore I watched it snow, and then rain, and then snow again, as if the seasons are colliding in the ring, throwing quick jabs back and forth, even though we all know who will inevitably be proclaimed victor in the next round. The fall mixed and ice climbing season is off to a slow start, with thinner conditions than in the last couple years. Thankfully there is no shortage of scrappy, traditional mixed routes to be had, if that’s your cup of tea.
Last week Alik, Justin and I ventured out to Arnica Lake on the lower flanks of Storm Mountain (or some unnamed sub peak of Storm) to check out the Full Moon Corner, which turned out to be quite a sick day (not to be confused with “Sick, Day”, a neighboring route). We may have nabbed the ‘second recorded ascent’, or ‘second ascent’, or just ‘an ascent’, had we topped out the route, which we did not, rappelling after the top of the difficulties. Justin was visiting from New Hampshire, and we therefore felt obliged to show him our immaculate stone, and firmly bonded ice, which he quite enjoyed, I may add!
Having now climbed Eye of the Storm and Full Moon Corner, I clearly have the authority to say that the alpine climbing on lower Storm Mountain is quite good, and deserving of more attention in the fall (by the fall I mean the beginning of winter in the Rockies). The approaches are no longer than a quick romp up to Protection Valley, the rock is quartzite, and the routes have a fair amount of real climbing, which keeps the haters honest. Full disclosure: I did not lead the crux pitches on either route (should have gone rock and not scissors) and therefore am not responsible for any comments I make about the seriousness of the pitches (?), quality of the pro (pretty good), or difficultly of the cruxes (both routes get M6). Other routes that should also get more attention in the area are Extended Mix, and The French Connection, both approached as for Eye of the Storm and located directly above Upper Twin Lake. These routes seem to look, climb, and approach better before it is too snowy, so I recommend checking them out early (and letting us all know how the conditions are!).
Since I couldn’t find a route description for Full Moon Corner before our outing (there is a post lost in the Facebook machine), I thought I’d spray the beta, in hopes that some lost soul will find it and also go out for a sick day. Although the climbing on Full Moon Corner was quite good, I think the overall experience of Eye of the Storm was better, mostly because it was twice as long and had more sustained pitches. It is also a longer approach and therefore much bigger outing. Full Moon Corner still rocks and big props to these guys for their route!