Aquarius, South Ghost, Canadian Rockies
Sporty drive into the South Ghost Valley this AM; ~25cm recent snow is feeling heavy and faceted, with only light driifting - but just enough that we narrowly avoided digging to get to the South Ghost (stock Nissan Frontier 4x4). Momentum was our friend through the soft windslab found in all open areas. Should be easier with 2+ tracks now but it's still relatively difficult for the South Ghost. Strong wind could
wreak havoc in the future. Currently would also want a high clearance 4x4 (no Subaru) for the whole trans Alta road approach to the big hill also.
Similar conditions in the approaches and climbing - easy walking in mid-shin deep snow under the trees, but slabby and tougher walking (and wading) in open areas and slot canyons. Some isolated hard windslab but no cracking.
We climbed Aquarius, which was generally good, but the main pitch was a little worse for wear. The short curtain mid pitch seemed ok; wet and so may last; but where forced to climb left and above, there were a few sheets of booming ice largely unadhered to the rock. Delicacy was required at -15C.
The final 6m to the bolt belay is a smooth rock runnel with no ice. Slightly desperate but at least there's a bolt below you on the left, and soft snow. Kicked off a few of the daggers on the left side on rappel.
In the Recital Hall: Fearful Symmetry is unformed. Rainbow serpent is mainly there; unfortunately the bottom is barely touching (see photo). Did not look inviting to these eyes.
The other ice visible in the area looked OK. Sunshine was snowy and uninspiring. Malignant mushroom a little on the scrappy side (after the early December heat wave) but there. WW looked in, if cold.