Parlee Brook is one of the ice climbing meccas in New Brunswick. Nestled in a hidden canyon, lies several (12) ice lines ranging from WI 2 to 4+. The ice begins to form around mid December, and with the onset of Christmas break, my friend and I road tripped over from PEI to give it a go. Reaching thesite requires a near 60m rappel in.
The sun was out, and ice and snow coated everything. To access the area, we back country skied 4.5K along logging roads using some rough GPS data I gathered from topo maps. After that, and missing the poorly marked trail, we ditched our skis and bush-whacked .3 K through scrub. Luckily, thesound of voices told us we found what we were looking for. A pair from Fredericton were justleading their way up the end of the Back Wall, and gave us some instruction on what ice was "in".
We rap'd down on their anchored set of double lines, and headed for The 3 Amigos, a grade 3 100mroute back into the trees. Two thirds of it had not yet touched down, so it was a single pitch go.
We were experiencing a warm spell a few days prior to our visit, and the conditions were a mixed bag. The ice was wet and slushy in some places, while clear, solid and ready for screws in others.
We were running against time. The climb went well with the exception of a popped off cramponthree quarters the way up on lead. There were plenty of rest stops.
We were back to our skis just as darkness was settling in, and with only one headset lamp betweenus, our way back made for an epic trip. I will never forget my headset lamp ever again!
After two years, I've returned to Parlee Brook. Joined up with Darrell Steel and my buddy Scott for another go at Parlee's ice. The season started early, and we entered the hidden valley from the lower end on Dec. 16th after hearing reports of climbable ice over a week ago.
The lower approach is simple, and made fairly straight foreward using backcocuntry skis and skins along a logging road for the most part. 3 K, according to the GPS gets us in to views of the ice.
Darrell uses double ropes, and after a brief lesson on belaying with a slightly different system, on he led on the 3 Amigos (WI3). Coincidentally it was the same ice run as we did last visit.
Six ice screws later, Darrell topped out and then it was my turn. Scott took pix to pass the time. I cleaned the route, and followed the line up with no misses. I was pretty happy to be back at climbing after a rather dissappointing last season.
Next up was Scott, who was climbing with some straight shafted axes on loan. Not the ideal setup for the first season's attempt, but Scott never the less went for it.
Our original plan was to be leaving the area by 1PM, as a big storm was approaching, and it was suppose to chase us back home to PEI. Climbing always takes longer than you think, and we ended up leaving around 3PM with small flakes of snow steadily falling. The storm had arrived!
With an hour's slog back to the car on skis, we made it out and drove back in the storm, arriving home safely, though later than planned. I asked Scott, who is new to ice climbing, if he was at all interested in returning to go at it again, and as I thought, he said yes!
East Coast editor
Here's a list of routes and grades in the area:
-Hullholmes Falls Grade 5- 45m
Breathless Grade 5- 65m
-Trampless Grade 4+ 35m
-Patrick's choice Grade 3+ 70m
-Three Amigos Grade 3 100 M
-ECA Grade 3 100m
-KF Gully Grade 3 80m
-Yellow Pillar Grade 4+ 50m
-Blue Pillar Grade 4+ 50m
-All the King's horses Grade 2+ 40m
-Back Wall Grade 3+ 15-20m.
For more specific route descriptions and comments see this link.