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Polar Circus 

WI5

   
Type:  Ice, 9 pitches, 2300', Grade V
Consensus: WI5 [details]
FA: FA: Burgess Twins, Bugs McKeith, Charlie Porter
Season: Winter
Page Views: 4,948
Submitted By: Dave Rone on Oct 23, 2010

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Rappeling the Pencil, saves time but CHECK THE ANC...

Description 

Ease of access, variety of terrain, length and position combine to create a singular route. Among the best, if not THE best, ice climb in the Canadian Rockies.

Polar Circus offers nine pitches of ice, with the crux pitch last. The bottom pitches are separated by some gully walking, which can be strenuous if the snow is deep. Eventually you will reach the Pencil (WI6). When formed this is a free-standing, 150' tall icicle. A most impressive feature. Usually, however, the Pencil will be broken off near the top, and this being the case, climb up and right on easy ice to a bolted belay station. While it may be possible to climb a couple pitches thin ice up from the anchors, most parties will continue up right, to some small trees that can be used for running belays. After the trees, cut back left, and traverse an exposed snow basin back to the gully below the main falls.

As you climb each of the upper tiers in 2 pitches. Bolted anchors/rappel stations exist at the base of the upper two tiers, and at the top of the last pitch. There is also a bolted station mid-way on the right of the last pitch. You will also likely find some in situ v-threads
Be aware of snow conditions and avalanche hazard!!!


Location 

The route is 27km north of the David Thompson Highway (Hwy 11). Park just before crossing a small bridge over the drainage . Follow the well-marked trail up the drainage to the base of the first ice. At this point, if snow conditions allow, climb up a steep slope on the left for several hundred meters, and then make an exposed traverse (avi hazard) right to the base of the first WI4 pitch. Otherwise, climb ice and snow up the gully to the base of the WI4 pitch.

The descent involves between 9 and 11 rappels, depending on where you left your packs. After rappelling the upper tiers, you can descend the drainage to a rappel anchor at the top of the Pencil, rather than backtrack the snow slopes. This will save about an hour and it is an exciting rappel. Be sure to check the rappel anchor carefully!!


Protection 

Ice screws . . . all the way. Bolted stations exist but can be hard to find on the lower pitches. Bring cord for v-threads.



Photos of Polar Circus Slideshow Add Photo
The Pencil in.
The Pencil in.
Traversing the snow basin to the base of the upper tiers, each climbed in two pitches.
Traversing the snow basin to the base of the upper...
Polar Circus. November 2012.
Polar Circus. November 2012.
Congratulate ourselves, take a few photos, enjoy the view, and let's get out of here!  You can just see the car next to the road.
Congratulate ourselves, take a few photos, enjoy t...
pencil, from above on the traverse around, the pillar was wobbly, so we bailed part way up and went around.
pencil, from above on the traverse around, the pil...
Wes on the final pitch.
Wes on the final pitch.
somewhere in the middle 2005
somewhere in the middle 2005
Wes Bender getting ready to lead the last pitch.
Wes Bender getting ready to lead the last pitch.
last pitch of polar circus, March 2011
last pitch of polar circus, March 2011
Deep, steep, scary snow while turning the Pencil.  Up to the small trees, then left.
Deep, steep, scary snow while turning the Pencil. ...
first pitch of polar circus, March 2011
BETA PHOTO: first pitch of polar circus, March 2011
The Pencil from below, broken off as usual.
The Pencil from below, broken off as usual.
There she be!
There she be!
Polar Circus from the road.  The upper tier is visible.
BETA PHOTO: Polar Circus from the road. The upper tier is vis...
from the road in 2005
from the road in 2005
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