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Ranger Creek - RD: 10/27/2012

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  • Ranger Creek - RD: 10/27/2012

    Climbed R&D this morning with Robb Schnell (aka helmut). It's in pretty good shape. No need for stubbies. Bring medium to long screws for soft but good ice. We climbed the usual left side and it was awesome and in good condition for the grade. Snow is accumulating up there but I don't think there is any real avy hazard except for a bit of spindrift.

    It doesn't look like lone ranger will come in this year. C&B is there and filling out but it looked thin and unprotectable in places. This would be a bold lead today but I think ice is forming fast on it. It might be ready mid-week.

    Trick or treat looked in and good from the road.
    Brian Merry[br]Banff, AB[br]www.brianmerry.ca[br]brian@bmerryphotography.com[br]403-763-1114[br]

  • #2
    Regarding avalanche hazard: of course there is real avalanche hazard. Conditions are changing quickly; always look for signs of recent loading on slopes above. The Internet is a handy tool for gaining some perspective but ultimately use you head, and gut to make your own decisions about how dangerous a climb is.

    Glad to hear you had a good day out. It's a wonderful wintery paradise out there and it's still not November.

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    • #3
      As MANGO said, conditions change fast. Ranger Creek has bitten more than a few climbers when snow conditions changed. Keep an eye on the conditions.

      For what it's worth, I observed sluffs setting off minor slides running 100-200m on similar North facing cliffs/slopes in the Highwood while skiing last Monday. Large enough sluffs/runouts to take you off your tools, or take your belayer of their feet.

      No grace period now that we have snow. Play safe.

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      • #4
        Thank again to Andrew & Scott who waited for us to finish.

        The four of us had a new experience. A young female moose licked all four tail lights clean just after we parked the two vehicles. Paul and I also had to slow down for a young bull moose with one broken antler on the way out.

        Watch your speed around blind corners. It would be a shame to kill a moose and trash your vehicle.


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        • #5
          Robb lead it first with 5 or 6 screws and then we pulled the rope and I lead it putting in 4 more
          I'm sort of surprised Robb put that many in. I also used 10-11.

          Regarding avi hazard, although it was just getting light as we left the car, it was relatively calm winds and no sign of any snow falling. I understand where Brian was coming from in that snow depth was relatively shallow on the approach, with underlying rocks still barely buried. There looked to have been at least a couple of parties having been up there judging by tracks on the final slopes and not even really filled in. As we got closer to the climbs things still seemed benign and certainly nothing to set off any alarm bells. Gearing up we started getting sprinkled with spindrift. Likewise leading up the first half of the climb, the spindrift was more annoying than bad. By the time I reached the 3/4 mark I got a new round of spindrift that suddenly got intense. I was getting pummelled, above my last screw, locked off with bent arms, and the rope was pulling down on me hard. Thank fuck for leashes, don't ever try telling me they're old school or passe.

          After the avalanche finally stopped, I banged a screw in and re-evaluated. My partner had been knocked off his feet but was ok. there was a chance the ramp above had been cleared out now, it was probably quicker to finish the last of the climb as the angle eased off, than to start messing with screws and v-threads. I gained the anchor, rapped and cleaned. Meanwhile a second party had come up and headed over to Chalice. Having arrived later, after arriving at the base they started getting heavier spindrift but no avi initially so they came over to R&D. After I was back on the ground we started seeing more avi starting on other paths. Everyone decided it was time to retreat.

          Unfortunately my belayer was unable to grab his pack as he was knocked off his feet and actually lost his pack, a tool, and a trekking pole. His pack contained his wallet, cell phone, and other lesser important items. The tool was a BD, maybe a viper. The pack was an Arcteryx Bora. We rapped the gulley below the climb looking for it but didn't linger too long. The other party helped comb through the runout debris trying to find the gear and a big thanks to Steve and Peter for looking.

          Having lost his phone, it would be easier to contact me than my belayer. If anyone finds any of the gear, it would be marvelous to get it back. I think a generous reward of beer and free karma points will be coming your way. You can get hold of me here or via PM.

          By the time we got back to the car it was definitely windier and more snow transport was now visible up higher so yes conditions change. It's easy to sit back and decide a different call was in order - in retrospect. However at the time it was a case of hazard increasing gradually after starting the climb. It was unfortunate that the first avi came from above and not off to the side as a warning. It does serve as a warning to others for the next couple of days though. We seem to have entered a natural avi cycle in Ranger Creek and likely the surrounding area. Consider this if you have plans to go there soon.
          .

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          • #6
            Thanks for jumping in Mango. There is real avalanche hazard up there that can easily take you out. I should have said the conditions were good the day I climbed it or not said anything at all.
            Brian Merry[br]Banff, AB[br]www.brianmerry.ca[br]brian@bmerryphotography.com[br]403-763-1114[br]

            Comment


            • #7
              Everyone should take accountability for their own actions Brian. I assign no blame to your post, indeed felt the same way on the approach. What we missed was the changing conditions that couldn't be seen once directly below/on the climb. What's a person to do, run away at the first spindrift? Who hasn't climbed in spindrift? Previous tracks hadn't been filled in, which might have indicated snow transport, no avi had happened as we approached. The point is conditions changed after we got there so if it's a choice of not saying anything at all or posting that it was good the day you were there, then go with the latter. It should go without saying that any such post carries such a caveat. I think that was the gist of what Tim and Brenden were saying. Conditions change, use your own judgement, supplement it with whatever observations you get from others - and hope for the best. We weren't the first party to get avalanched in Ranger, we won't be the last. Evaluation of the approach slopes gave no concern, no visible transport, shallow snowpack, all counted for nothing because the hazard was overhead and changed when we could no longer see it. We got lucky, the pack didn't. I'm glad it was a pack that was buried and not a partner.

              BTW if anyone has time in the next couple of days to go help my buddy probe the runout for the pack or tool, I'm sure he'd like the help. He's away working next weekend when I have time off work.
              .

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              • #8
                All that really matters in this case is that Grant and his party are safe. I hope your partner gets his pack back.

                Thanks for not taking offense to my post Brian. I speak (or type in this case) from my heart and my intentions are only to draw awareness to the dynamic nature of avalanche slopes that threaten ice climbs.

                Tim

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                • #9




                  A couple of shots of Ranger Creek from across the valley (ski touring). Good to see the true size of the slopes without the human-standing-at-the-bottom foreshorting (Click on either shot and they should get bigger on your screen).

                  Glad that Grant and his partner are fine. The pack should be probable, I wouldn't hold out too much hope for the tool and ski pole, they will melt out in the spring.

                  Happy trails,

                  Barry

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                  • #10
                    Hi Barry,

                    Are these from last year? Lone ranger had very little ice on it Saturday. I know ice forms fast but wow, that formed really fast if you took it yesterday.

                    This shot shows the slopes really well though and puts the avy danger from above into into prespective.
                    Brian Merry[br]Banff, AB[br]www.brianmerry.ca[br]brian@bmerryphotography.com[br]403-763-1114[br]

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                    • #11
                      The shots are from last year, late April.

                      Peace

                      BB

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                      • #12
                        Holy $hit. MAJOR bowls above those climbs! Thx for posting those photos Barry, not a perspective oft seen...
                        Mobile: 808-280-3341[br]Email: info@IntoAdventure.com

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                        • #13
                          Not related to Ranger Creek but this pic of Bourgeau LH shows the massive terrain above that climb and it makes me pucker each time I look at it.


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                          • #14
                            Yeah leashes!!!
                            Tom Wolfe

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