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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Just Posted

Cloverdale automobile shop offers to pick up, service, and drop off vehicles

Surrey’s Visscher-Pau Automotive starts ‘Blue Glove’ valet service — will cover Cloverdale, Langley, Newton, Fleetwood, and Hazelmere

White Rock brewery turns up the (alcohol by) volume in COVID-19 fight

3 Dogs Brewing is making hand sanitizer for frontline workers, general public

Surrey RCMP looking for ‘distraction theft’ suspect

Suspect allegedly tried to swipe a man’s necklace while giving him a hug

1,000 food hampers packed for delivery to students of Surrey’s inner-city schools

City Dream Centre-led initiative involved volunteer effort at Horizon Church in Newton

Surrey councillor wants property taxes deferred to December

Linda Annis is expected to present notice of motion to that effect at April 6 “virtual” council meeting

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

Fraser Valley auto sound business starts producing face shields

Certified Auto Sound & Security is doing what it can to help frontline healthcare workers.

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

Most Read