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

Kelowna man arrested after allegedly setting blaze near Fire Department

The man was allegedly seen lighting bushes on fire near the Kelowna Fire Department

Kelowna mothers to share grief, spread awareness for Overdose Day

Moms Stop the Harm is hosting an event for International Overdose Awareness Day in Kerry Park

Latino-American rock ‘n’ roll band The Mavericks coming to Kelowna

Kelowna is the only B.C. stop on the band’s worldwide tour

UBC Okanagan Heat score 10 goals in pre-season double-header

Two exhibition wins in the U.S. to start the year for the mens Heat squad

Kelowna transit system to add new routes in September

The decision is due to increase in demand, according to BC Transit

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Penticton man sentenced in non-fatal 2017 shooting

Elkena Michael Knauff sentenced to seven and a half months in jail

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Kamloops RCMP locate and arrest man who fled from police

The 22-year-old male was wanted in relation to a domestic violence investigation

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

COLUMN: Much to enjoy at Ryga Arts Festival

As I learn about George Ryga and his contributions, it is clear why this festival carries his name

Okanagan RCMP superintendent helps with arrest

Vernon Supt. Shawna Baher arrests man for theft; turns out to be suspect in assault and robbery

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Most Read