Major New Route in Rockies

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Canadian guide Dave Marra and Californian Tom Schnugg climbed a huge and extremely dangerous new ice route on the North Face of Snow Dome in the Canadian Rockies. The 1,000-meter route, For Father, ascends a prominent ice line about a third of a mile to the right of Slipstream, an infamous ice climb on the East Face. After 500 meters of exciting scrambling on the lower glacier, the two men went “balls to the walls” up many pitches of WI 3 and 4 ice, leading to a WI 5 curtain and a 60-meter WI 6 pitch. Above loomed easier ice and the final serac bands, which Marra attempted to lead with nearly disastrous results. With two screws in and about half the rope out, Marra was gently traversing a serac when he heard “the screech of an ancient animal.” After a terrifying pause, a “40 by 10 by 5 foot” ice chunk broke loose, sending Marra for a 40-foot swinging fall amid tons of falling ice, “getting shit-kicked by the biggest football team this side of the border.” Amazingly, neither man was seriously hurt. After searching futilely for an alternative exit, they decided to rappel the route, preferring to take their chances with more falling ice than to climb through the teetering seracs. “The exit ice isn’t technically hard, it’s just death,” Marra said.

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