Updated Approach - 2007-02-24
I returned to the site to check out the changes as a result of new driving restrictions. You can no longer park as per the original directions - but the good news is - the walk is short. The walk is 2.2 kms in length with an elevation gain of only 25 metres. We walked at a casual speed (moderate snow on the ground) and did the additional walk in 30-45 minutes. This extra walking takes you to the original parking spot - from which all the other directions still work. The new parking spot (from where the 2.2 km walk starts) is at N51 19.067 W115 12.473
This cache is best approached in the winter. A 4x4 is usually required to enter the ghost forestry area and access the parking area below the climb (now changed - see updated approach above). You must navigate large boulder fields and perform a few river crossings. If you are walking, add about 3-4 extra hours of time (each way) from the top of the "ghost area big hill". The parking spot at the bottom of the climb is about a 2.5 hour drive from Calgary.
The 12 pitch ice climb is considered "easy" by ice climbing standards (mostly grade 3 ice), but should not be attempted by non-climbers. This is an extremely popular climb due to its unique location and relative ease of access. A description is also available in the book "Water Fall Ice" by Joe Josephson. Depending upon ice conditions, and your general state of climbing ability, it typically takes any where from 1 to 3 hours to ascend the water fall. The overall elevation gain from your car will be about 370 metres. Check out the attached photos to get an idea of the terrain.
The Usual Warning
Remember - although this is an easy ice climb by climbing standards - it is an ice climb. It consists of 12 pitches (each 5 - 20 meters in length with an angle of 60 - 80 degrees.) Proper climbing equipment and technique are required. All the usual warnings about climbing being a dangerous activity and that participants could be injured or killed (yada yada yada) apply.
The cache location is high in the Canadian Rockies. You are at tree line and it will likely by cold and windy with blowing snow. Dress appropriately and take appropriate gear. This cache is in a large black ABS pipe about 10cm across and 60 cm long. It is very rugged and designed to withstand the weather and conditions of this location. It was suggested it might also withstand the next ice age. The pipe is sealed at both ends but one end screws out. Because the top can become 'sticky' (and it would be so annoying to climb this much ice and not be able to open the cache!) a hand made wrench is wired to the outside of the cache (attached with aircraft cable). The cache includes - a fold out seat (don't take this please - use it to sit on and rest / enjoy the view after 12 great pitches of ice climbing.) The cache also includes:
• 1 Thermal Emergency Space Blanket
• Water proof match box
• 1 5in1 survival aid (includes match box, compass, whistle, fire starter flint, nylon lanyard)
• 1 pack (2) toe warmers (6 hour)
• 2 emergency poncho’s
• 1 lantern shaped bottle opener
• 1 mini carabiner
• 1 30 minute hi intensity white cyalume light stick (non flammable)
• 1 Canadian GeoCoin number 4554 (www.geocoins.ca)
• 1 First –to- find certificate
Getting the cache into position was interesting. Pictures are posted showing it being hauled / carried up the ice climb.
This was Stephen's first ice climb (and our first cache placement). Even with hauling the cache up, we casually completed the ascent in under 4 hours.
The geocoin would like to do a few other more difficult ice climbs (perhaps the terminator) before heading off for a climb on K2.
Alternate Hikers Access:
There is a possibility that hikers could reach this cache by following the climbers descent "trail". This very poorly marked, unmaintained trail might be accessible (but unpleasant) winter or summer. Use your GPS to mark your track in if you take this trail - it would be VERY easy to get off trail and get lost in the bush. To take this trail start by parking at the climbers parking lot (described above) and then proceed back into the valley below. Head upstream for about 5 - 10 minutes to N 51 deg 19.176 W 115 deg 14.289. Find this spot and head straight up into the bush (a creek crossing is likely required) looking for the "trail".