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New Film to Be Premiered — The Pioneers of Waterfall Ice Climbing

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

By Chic Scott


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Coming exclusively to the Whyte Museum on December 10th is a new historical film on Canadian ice climbers: The Pioneers of Waterfall Ice Climbing.


Chic Scott and filmmaker Glen Crawford are making the film using the interviews that Chic recorded in 1996 and 1997 while researching his book Pushing the Limits: The Story of Canadian Mountaineering. This film will tell the story of the development of the sport of waterfall ice climbing during the 70s, 80s, and 90s and celebrate the pioneers of this activity.


The Canadian Rockies are endowed with the three things that make for great waterfall ice climbing — big cliffs, lots of water, and cold temperatures in winter. Consequently, there are ample frozen waterfalls perfect for ice climbers. And Canmore and the Bow Valley are the centre for this sport.



Gallery 1


During the 70s, the new sport of waterfall ice climbing was born. Around 1970, Scottish mountaineer Hamish McInnes invented a new type of ice axe with a steeply drooping pick which allowed climbers to hook into steep ice and pull themselves up. He called this new ice axe the "Terradactyl" and it revolutionized how mountaineers climb ice. It was now possible to climb even the steepest frozen waterfalls.


In this film, Rob Wood tells the story of the first ascent of Borgeau Left Hand and while Jack Firth tells the story of the first ascents of Pilsner Pillar, Louise Falls, The Professor Falls and Takakkaw Falls. Laurie Skreslet tells his story of the first ascents of Helmet and Whiteman Falls and Jeff Marshall tells the story of his solo enchainment of Polar Circus and Weeping Pillar and of his ascent of Riptide. Guy Lacelle tells the story of his ascent of The Terminator while Bruce Hendricks tells stories of climbing Blessed Rage and Fearful Symmetry. These are the epic stories of the great waterfall ice climbs of Canada. Enhanced with historic photographs and linked with explanatory narration, the development of this sport, which is now popular all around the world, is explained.


As well as telling the stories of the historic ascents, these climbers speak of their passion and their love for the sport. They speak of the beauty of the mountains in winter and of the hard work, suffering, and commitment required to do these climbs. Filmed 25 years ago, this film shows them in their prime.


Pioneers of Waterfall Ice Climbing will be premiered at the Whyte Museum on the evening of Saturday, December 10th and we plan to invite some of the Bow Valley’s leading ice climbers. Then, on December 11th, International Day of the Mountains, the film will be posted on the Whyte Museum website where it will be available for people around the world to view.


Tickets can be booked for this film screening at whyte.org/events.

 

Gallery 1:


Image 1: (Left to Right) Tim Auger, John Lauchlan, Jack Firth, Bugs McKieth, and Rob Wood after the first attempt on Takakkaw Falls in 1974. Photo by Bugs McKieth.

Image 2: Bruce Hendricks climbing on Sea of Vapors. Photo by Barry Blanchard.

Image 3: John Lauchlan climbing on Weeping Wall. Photo by Ray Jotterand.

Image 4: An early attempt on Borgeau Left Hand. Photo by Urs Kallen.

Image 5: Jack Firth on the first ascent of Takakkaw Falls in 1974. Photo by Bugs McKieth.

Image 6: Jeff Marshall on the first ascent of Riptide in 1987. Photo by Larry Ostrander.

Image 7: George Homer leads while Rob Wood belays on the first ascent of Borgeau Left Hand in 1974. Photo by Tim Auger.

Image 8: Two climbers on an early ascent of The Terminator. Photo by Tim Auger.

 

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