bikes canada climbing general trip reports

ice-capades on a frozen lake

Looking through the guidebook for an ice climb to do on a windy day with high avalanche risk, we struck upon the climbs down by the edge of Lake Minnewanke.

The guidebook told us that the first ascent team had used iceskates to get to the climbs – but for later in the season recommended bikes. “Ok”, we thought, “bikes it is, that sounds like a great idea”.


Walking the bikes across Lake Minnewanke


Arriving at the lake we had to hunt around for a while to find a good place to get onto the ice – neither of us were keen on heading out across the middle of the lake, but along the southern shore all the ice was buckled creating huge impassable water trenches. So we cycled along the the half-way parking spot, and followed some fishermen out onto the lake. “It’ll be fine”, they reassured us, “at least six inches of ice as far as you can see”.


Ice heaving at the edge of Lake Minnewanke


So we set out across the lake with our bikes – initially there was too much snow to ride. Then suddenly there was no snow at all, and the glossy smooth ice threw had us walking immediately. “That’s ok”, we said, “it looks like it’ll be more rideable near the shore”. So we headed off towards the southern shoreline… and walked … and walked… and shuffled… and it got no closer. The ice was clear, and the water beneath was dark and deep. Huge cracks were running everywhere – deep lake-crossing cracks that looked to be nearly 3 feet deep, and tiny 5cm cat cracks, and everything in-between. The cracks were unsettling but the smooth patches between the cracks were worse, as there was nothing to convince your brain you weren’t just walking on water.

At this point we still didn’t have our crampons on, and so were shuffling across and trying not to fall over. This makes no sense of course, but we didn’t want to anger the lake monsters, and the ice was just so pretty! Our crampons would damage the perfect surface. So the bikes were being caught by the wind, and we’d be blown along bike and all, sliding along the ice.

By the time we reach the shoreline we’d both fallen over at least once and were well and truly over any worries about damaging the ice. Stashing the bikes, we decided to put crampons on, the headed off down lake again.


Reflection in the frozen lake


All the time walking up the lake we had a tailwind behind us – ice skates would have been scary, but maybe a sled with a sail? After walking for an hour, it still felt like we hadn’t covered much distance. That lake really is enormous. There was a stop for lunch, and then we finally reached the ice climb (which I haven’t included a photo of, as it wasn’t particularly exciting).


Sitting on water – Amy adjusts her crampons


Post ice climb we stuffed ourselves with some more food, then trudged off into the headwind. It was about as fun as could be expected. I developed a wind rating system:

Gale Force 1 – Necessitates modification of walking style, although progress can continue.
Gale Force 2 – Must stop walking and brace yourself into wind.
Gale Force 3 – Must stop and crouch to provide smaller surface area to wind.
Gale Force 4 – Must turn around and crouch with back to wind.
Gale Force 5 – Even crouching with your back to the wind you get blown over. Best option is to sit with your back to the wind and lift your crampons – you will get blown along the lake.

We experienced all of those. The only consolation was that it was a sunny day, the mountains were beautiful, and the frozen lake was still pretty amazing. And as we picked up our bikes again and headed for the car, the sun was setting.


Sunset across Lake Minnwanke


climbing general

a vicious scorpion

A weekend of no climbing at Arapiles… the Pines Plaza is back in operation though

Dawn just outside of Natimuk

Juergen solos Trapeze (11)

Bouldering in the shade, spotters are go

Vicious scorpion

Kangaroo lazing at the bottom of Tiger Wall

climbing general trip reports

the blue mountains is a lovely place

A long (long) Easter weekend was spent at Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains. The weather and climbing were both lovely, and the old house we rented for a week was interesting, particularly with 15 people staying in it. A sample of our adventures in the photos below. As per usual, when the most climbing was being done, there was no photographic evidence. Conclusion from the trip – Sydney climbers have it pretty good when it comes to quality rock nearby (also some other conclusions about Sydney being warmer, but Melbourne being a nicer city to live in, or something like that).

Helen manages the reachy crux on the appropriately named Pommy Filth (19), Mount York

Samantha belays Dave on Noodle (15), Mount York

Hannah slabs it up at Porters Pass

More blue skies as Ness does the first ascent of a newly bolted 18 at Mt Piddington

Jackie contemplates the crimpy crux of Cutopia (23) at Porters Pass

Jesse laughs in the face of those who climb without class

climbing general trip reports

back to tasmania

No, I’m not actually going back to Tasmania. Well, not at the moment anyway. But here are a few more photos from the trip, just to prove there really was some climbing, and I wasn’t just touring around notable Tasmanian climbing locations. Most of the places we climbed at, we were the only people there.

Boer heading up Cordon Bleu (15) at Freycinet

I second up after Boer on Cordon Blue – damning the stuck nut.

Bouldering on the beach at Honeymoon Bay. This rock was actually thoroughly manky, and swathes of sand and debris would come off any time you tried to do anything.

All throughout Tasmania, we kept seeing hoards of surfers. So many cars had surfboards on their rooves – it was ridiculous, I’d never realised Tassie was a prime surfing destination. Anyway, apparently this is one of the places the crazy people surf. And Cape Raoul, off in the background – I’d really like to climb there.

climbing general trip reports

the tasmanian story

I’ve been in Tasmania, where everything is scenic, the rock is plentiful and the climbers scarce. I saw a haybale version of stonehenge, I got a flat tyre in a national park (while camping at the end of 3km of 4WD track, and broke my nut wrench trying to get the wheel off), was offered copious amounts of delicious wines by a biker couple from Canberra who were touring around Tasmania visiting wineries, watched the sunrise most mornings, visited a cheese factory, and a chocolate factory, and even climbed some rocks.


The light of the setting sun over Ben Lomond

Early morning light at Bluestone Bay, Freycinet National Park

The view of the rising sun from Whitewater Wall campground, Freycinet National Park

High seas at the Tasman Peninsula