Don’t Look Up

First Attempt on a Dangerous Ice Climbing Route

Don’t Look Up

Helmcken Falls, located in Wells Grey Provincial Park in British Columbia, is the fourth highest waterfall in Canada with a height of 141 meters. The water cascades over a natural amphitheater where the mist from the waterfall freezes to the overhanging and horizontal rock. Two of the world’s best ice climbers, Will Gadd and Tim Emmett, discovered it, and I was there to chronicle our adventure.

Will and Tim were the first to discover and climb this severely overhanging cave. The unique way the ice clung to the rock and the ability to place bolts into the rock allowed them to scale the frozen walls safely, knowing their gear would not fail.

I had to take extreme caution on this shoot — I was often standing underneath these free-hanging ice daggers.

The climbers cleared a path through the hanging ice daggers that covered the whole cave. Many of them weighed as much as a car and were extremely unstable. They dropped from above at random.

Here we see Will on the third pitch, or very steep section, of “Spray On,” the name Tim gave this route. He had just finished horizontal climbing for about 20 meters and is now about 40 degrees inverted. The climbing here was the first of its kind and cutting edge as it was several grades harder then traditional ice routes.

I wanted to show the strength it took Will to scale the icy cave and freeze the moment where he is one with the mountain, hanging side by side with the ice daggers in this unique and surreal part of the world.

Pinterest Tumblr

Christian Pondella

Christian Pondella shoots extreme sports in extreme weather.
Read More

Which one of Christian’s photos is your favorite and why?

Share Your Stories Instagram

Use the hashtag #sandiskstories for a chance to be featured on this site.

Sign up for special offers!

Get special promotional offers and photography tips from SanDisk.