Adventures in Canmore: Ice Climbing Grotto Falls

Grade: WI3

Climbing Grotto Falls. Photo: Genevieve Hathaway Photography.
Climbing Grotto Falls. Photo: Genevieve Hathaway Photography.

Pitches: 2 pitches, 55m

Condition: Often picked out. It’s a very popular climbing area, especially with the guides, so be prepared for both crowds and the potential of climbs being picked out. Other climbs in Grotto Canyon/Falls area is the mixed climb His and Hers.

Approach: 15 min from the car. Hike into the back of the canyon, turn right and the climb is straight ahead.

Gear: 50m – 70m rope. This climb has bolts at both the top and middle of the climb, but still bring plenty of anchor building material. Cannot be top roped, must be led.

The Climb

After spending the morning ice climbing at King’s Creek, we headed to Grotto Falls to tackle this spunky little two pitch WI 3 ice climb. The climb is popular so beware it could be pretty picked out. We arrived late in the day, just as all the hoards were migrating out of the canyon; we had this climb all to ourselves. On this particular day, water was  running underneath the upper pitch, we swung our tools delicately.

We climbed Grotto Falls as one long pitch, rappelling off the bolts at the top. It’s a fun little climb and a great way to end a stellar weekend of ice climbing.

I learned a ton about leading ice, climbed a lot of pitches, and had a blast. My trips to Canmore are always too fleeting and when I leave the big peak country I feel an ache in my heart and a yearning to return as quickly as possible. With 2010 closing in a few weeks, I won’t get back again this year – though two trips to Canmore, one in February and one in November, wasn’t too shabby for this year. Maybe in a few months, after South Korea, Cambodia and Portugal I’ll be able to get back to this land of mountains and ice. After all, the Canadian Rockies do proudly sport a 7 month long ice climbing season. Till next time Canmore.


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