Photo courtesy of Jon Walsh.
Jon Walsh and Caroline Ware have climbed a brand-new thin-ice testpiece to the left of the 1987 thin-ice testpiece Riptide (225m, WI 7 R) in the Canadian Rockies. The two headed up the slopes of Mt. Patterson aiming for a repeat of Riptide but were tempted by the runnel line to the left. They climbed three pitches before an inadequate rock rack (eight nuts and three pins) called a halt to the effort. Leaving gear at the base in anticipation of another attempt, the two returned four days later armed with a full rack and a hand drill.
Their new route, The Shadow (220m, WI6+ R M6), climbs four long pitches of very thin ice, interspersed by rock bulges, mostly protected with rock gear. Walsh backed up the third belay with a single bolt. Three of the four pitches are WI6 or harder, with the crux fourth pitch presenting two
overhanging sections of rotten icicles with marginal gear. The route is named after the Maria Coffey book Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow, about the aftermath of deaths in the mountain.
Over the last couple of weeks, the two have ticked many Rockies ice classics, often two in a day. At the Stanley Headwall, they did Nightmare on Wolf Street (180m, WI6 M7+) and French Reality (145m, WI6+) in a sub-12-hour round trip from the car. With the headwall in excellent shape, they returned between attempts on The Shadow to link Suffer Machine (200m, WI6) and Nemesis (160m, WI6).