Wild WI10 Ice Climb Continues to Top

Spray On at Helmcken Falls, British Columbia. Photo by Jia Condon

Spray On at Helmcken Falls, British Columbia. Photo by Jia Condon

2/28/12 - Earlier this month, Briton Tim Emmett and Slovenian Klemen Premrl made the first ascent to the top of Spray On at Helmcken Falls, Canada.

Emmett and Will Gadd discovered Spray On when they explored the 460-foot-tall Helmcken Falls three seasons ago. Because the ice was too thin to protect with traditional gear, the pair bolted and climbed a 90-foot-tall, 45-degrees-overhanging line in early 2010. The climb was given the unprecedented grade of WI 10, and was awarded Climbing’s Golden Piton for ice climbing.

The following year, Emmett and Gadd returned to add four more pitches to the original climb, creating a 250-foot line to the lip of the cave. Ice had formed over the bolts they'd placed previously, so they used a metal detector to uncover their original gear.

Emmett, Gadd, Premrl, Chris Geisler, and Will Mayo added the final pitches this season. Emmett and Premrl sent the now-eight-pitch route in a single day, with Emmett leading the final pitch at nightfall. The climbers were forced to skip the first pitch of the route, which was under a massive amount of snow and ice.

“For me, climbing to the top of Helmcken Falls is like a rite of passage, an answer to why I started climbing in the first place,” said Emmett. “It’s off the scale! It encompasses so many factors, all at once. It’s a real adventure—exciting, dangerous, exposed, brilliant, varied, difficult, and, in my opinion, one of the most amazing natural creations on Earth.”

Emmett described Spray On as the “easiest line up the cave,” meaning there is incredible potential for more lines at Helmcken Falls. The area has been busy with climbers adding new lines this year. Four more routes have already been established, one of which is Wolverine, a route by Mayo and Geisler, described as similar to Spray On, but without the rests.

Click here to watch Emmett talk about Spray On.

Date of ascent: February 6, 2012

Source: Jia Condon