Spicy Ice in Canada


How hard can WI4 be with modern ice tools? Pretty darned hard if the ice is only 0.5 to 1.5 inches thick for many pitches in a row. That’s what Stephen Holeczi, Rob Owens and Brian Webster found on Mount Rundle when they completed The Oracle (450m IV WI4+X M4). Barry Blanchard and Phillipe Pellet had climbed all but two pitches of the line two days earlier in the first week of November.The Oracle starts about 1,000 feet left of Shampoo Planet and may share the first two pitches of the rarely formed Touch Me if You Can. Of the eight pitches, six are rated X with 40-foot runouts “between nests of hard-won rock gear” and many stubby ice screws. “The whole route is very engaging and cerebral,” Holeczi said. Blanchard, who climbed the first six pitches on a –20°C (–4°F) day, described it as “a fine test and stress on the calf and head muscles and relatively easy on the biceps.” He added, “I’m incredibly glad that it went trad. Had the bolt boys got there first it would merely be a MEGA place to practice thin ice. Hats off to the lads! The Oracle is 450 meters of pure spice.”