Without any planning, Canadian Mike Verwey made an impromptu solo link-up of two winter testpieces–Ice Nine (IV WI5+, 95m) and part of Eh Spring Chicken Named Logan (V 5.8 R WI5, 500m)–on Mt. Wilson (3260m), Alberta, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies. Ice Nine is marked in red; where Verwey plugged into Spring Chicken is yellow; everything blue is new territory; pulling them all together is Malice in Wonderland (V M5+ WI5+, 500m).
[Photo] Rob Owens
Equipped with only tools, a rope for rappelling and two ice screws, Mike Verwey recently connected two demanding winter routes–Ice Nine (IV WI5+, 95m) and part of Eh Spring Chicken Named Logan (V 5.8 R WI5, 500m)–on Mt. Wilson (3260m), Alberta, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies. On February 3, Verwey had intended to solo Ice Nine, described by Joe Josephson’s guidebook as “a very aesthetic and difficult route,” a noteworthy accomplishment on its own, but decided to continue up the prominent cliff band above on a whim. From the top of Ice Nine, he soloed 150 meters of new mixed terrain up to M5+ before entering into Spring Chicken, where he finished on a new 4+ pillar with a squeeze exit to gain the top. Verwey calls the link-up, which is essentially a new route, Malice in Wonderland (V M5+ WI5+, 500m).
Verwey descended by downclimbing the top sections of ice and getting creative with his surroundings–“A tree, a bad V-thread and an old fixed nut at the start of the corner got me through the mixed raps,” Verwey said. He struggled to descend the lower ice without a headlamp in the dark, arriving at his car at 8 p.m., two and a half hours after the sun had set.
Like many of the ice routes on Mt. Wilson, Malice in Wonderland does not summit the peak, but it does highlight the potential to extend lines farther on mixed terrain.