A group of climbers scaled Della Falls, Canada’s largest waterfall, for the first time last month. CHRIS JENSEN PHOTO

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

A small group of ice climbers made history last month, becoming the first to climb Canada’s tallest waterfall.

At 440 metres high, Della Falls—located about 60 kilometres northwest of Port Alberni—is considered by some to be the highest waterfall in Canada, although there is some debate. Due to the waterfall’s location, on mid-Vancouver Island, it is unusual for the falls to freeze completely. But a cold February on Vancouver Island led to perfect conditions for a climb, according to Chris Jensen of the Alpine Club of Canada Vancouver Island.

Jensen was joined in his expedition by Will Gadd, a professional climber and guide from Canmore, Alberta, and Peter Hoang, a climber and photographer based out of Ontario.

Jensen has been climbing recreationally on Vancouver Island for 20 years and although he is based in Victoria, he is not new to the Alberni Valley. As a member of the Alpine Club of Canada Vancouver Island, he has been involved for the past few years in the construction of a public backcountry hut in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, known as the 5040 Peak Hut, which recently opened to the public.

READ: New alpine hut under construction in the Kennedy River Valley

A small window of opportunity came up in February for Jensen to head into Della Falls with Gadd, and he knew it was time to try the climb.

“It’s been talked about for many years,” said Jensen, noting that most Island guide books indicated that no one had climbed the falls yet. “It’s so far back that not a lot of people get out there.”

Getting down Great Central Lake was one of the main challenges, but Jensen and his team were able to catch a ride from local boater Ron Kyle and “the trip was quickly on.” They were dropped off on a dock at the northwest end of Great Central Lake and headed to Della Falls—a 15 kilometre approach on snowshoes. Conditions were warm and rain continued to drizzle, but after rounding a bend, they saw the first real ice in the valley—Della Falls.

“It was fantastic,” Jensen said. “They were absolutely ideal conditions. The ice quality itself was really good, for the most part.”

The team climbed it in seven pitches—or seven rope-lengths—with some hiking between pitches. The falls are broken into three main flows—Jensen’s team took the central flow that was also the most vertical, running into a couple of difficult pitches near the peak. Once at the top, they were “surrounded by perfect, bluebird skies,” said Jensen.

“Considering how quickly [the trip] came together, it went quite smoothly,” he said. “Who knows the next time it will be cold enough to do this. It could just be a one-time thing. This is definitely one for the books.”

Jensen climbed the waterfall again the following weekend with a pair of fellow Vancouver Island climbers. During this climb, he took a less steep route, which was more moderate but longer at nine pitches.

“Between two trips, that was 60 kilometres of snowshoeing,” he laughed. “I think I’m done for the season.”



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

A group of climbers scaled Della Falls, Canada’s largest waterfall, for the first time last month. CHRIS JENSEN PHOTO

Just Posted

Repen: FOI data proves Telkwans being ripped off by ICBC

Former Telkwa mayor received a response from ICBC and says the results don’t look good for residents

Fires still burning near Telegraph Creek

BC Wildfire Service assures residents of a proactive plan heading into wildfire season

Northwest entrepreneurs pitch their plans for cash prizes

ThriveNorth announces 12 finalists in this year’s business challenge

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

Cyclist braking stigma on addiction from coast to coast

Mathew Fee aims at world record for longest distance on BMX bike while sharing his story of recovery

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Happy birthday: Queen Elizabeth II turns 93 on Easter Sunday

Sunday is the first of two birthday celebrations each year for the queen

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Most Read