A dream long on the ice

A dream long on the ice

Quebec mountaineer François-Guy Thivierge began in August 2019 the challenge of his life: to climb 55 mountains in 55 months to mark his 55 years. Each month, Le Journal presents a mountain that it has climbed as part of this project.

When François-Guy Thivierge was reading up on climbing in his youth, an icefall in Western Canada never ceased to pique his curiosity.

Since then, the vagaries of everyday life have meant that this long-standing attraction has turned into an old, shelved dream. Until the Quebec mountaineer seized the opportunity to tackle the infamous Weeping Wall in Alberta, just to tick another box on his list of 55 mountains to climb in 55 months.

A dream long on the ice

Courtesy photo

It is with the usual smile of the conqueror that the Quebec climber tackled another particular challenge.

Winter is slowly resuming its rights with the arrival of December. And who says winter necessarily means going to play in the ice. At least, this has been François-Guy Thivierge’s playground for 35 years, when he began to tame climbing at Montmorency Falls.

From then on, he was always fascinated by the Weeping Wall, a jewel of Banff National Park. The weeping wall, because of the waterfalls that litter it during the summer, turns into a beast of a completely different nature once winter comes.

“I saw this wall of ice in books when I was little. It already seemed to me among the great classics of ice walls in the country.

A dream long on the ice

Courtesy photo

The ascent of this icy wall must be done at an angle that makes you dizzy.

“The plan to go there stuck on ice for decades, but when I put my 55 mountain list up for my 55th birthday, I made sure I didn’t put it off. The dream, it had to be realized now, while I still have the energy to do it and the passion that burns ”, tells in a lively voice the tireless climber.

A technical challenge

In his vast background as a mountaineer around the world, Thivierge has of course already encountered challenges of greater complexity, whether it be the duration of an ascent, extreme weather conditions or altitude. to manage.

This time, it was the physical side of the adventure that packed him above all else.

“The challenge is very technical. It’s in the style of Montmorency Falls, but it’s six times higher. The climbing is all in ice and very vertical. It’s so steep that if you drop something, it ends up directly on the ground without touching anything, ”testifies, amused, the seasoned explorer.

A dream long on the ice

Courtesy photo

Efforts were spared for more than ten hours to come to the end of the beast.

Even though he has seen others in his busy life, Thivierge does not hide the fact that butterflies quickly invaded him, at the foot of the great wall at the base of Cirrus mountain.

“I was accompanied by Jyoti Venne and Ryan Rieburger. Jyoti had already climbed it, which brought a reassuring side. We got up in the dark to plan an epic climb. I felt palpitations in front of the stranger. At the bottom of such a wall, you ask yourself: will the arms let go of me? Do I have the physical capacity for this? He recalls.

In two parts

The first part of the wall was climbed quite comfortably, after only a few minutes’ approach.

“This is one of the advantages of this escalation. You get out of your car and five minutes later, the approach is over! The way to get there, by the highway between Lake Louise and Jasper, is the equivalent of the 20 … but with magnificent landscapes! You don’t see the kilometers go by, ”Thivierge still marvels.

A dream long on the ice

Courtesy photo

To climb the Weeping Wall, Thivierge took advantage of the financial support of its partner for the past 25 years, Les Assurances Jean Gamache.

Once you get to the top of the ice candle, this is where the real fun (or torment, it depends) begins.

“You do about 2000 pull-ups with the ice axes. It gives about 5,000 hammer blows. You feel tired. Always make sure you place your feet correctly and hold onto the ice. The apprehensions quickly faded and I gained confidence by carefully measuring the efforts ”, explains the man who completed another expedition in style.

That’s another ten hours well invested in the daily life of François-Guy Thivierge.


A dream long on the ice

Head for the mountain

  • Country: Canada
  • Altitude : 1829 m
  • Region : Banff National Park
  • Ascension: 350 m
  • Duration: 10:30 a.m.
  • First ascent: 1970 (bottom section) and 1980 (top section)

To pursue his adventures

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