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Ice climbing in a national park requires the utmost respect for nature. An expedition in the backcountry requires particular skills and physical abilities if you want to travel independently and in harmony with nature.
For your safety and that of the members of your group, read this document in its entirety.
Before submitting the registration form, you must be aware that help is far away and that your safety is your responsibility. Adequate preparation is required. First ask yourself if you have the skills, abilities and fitness level to undertake this kind of expedition. Climbing a wall of ice involves certain risks, and it’s important to know what they are so you can prepare for them and be ready to react appropriately.
We invite you to consult our tip sheets about activities and stays offered by Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Sépaq). The Fédération québécoise de la montagne et de l'escalade can help you plan your stay and your activities safely. Don’t hesitate to contact them.
No patrols are made at this time of year in this part of the territory. Emergency services are far away and access to the Pomme d'Or is particularly difficult. For incidents requiring immediate care or evacuation, wait time can be very long (sometimes several days). The isolation of this sector means that there is no cell phone service. A first aid kit and knowledge of how to apply first aid in remote areas are essential in emergency situations.
Costs related to search and rescue operations are solely the responsibility of the recipient. We strongly recommend checking whether or not your insurance company covers these costs. Otherwise, some private companies, such as Airmédic, offer the possibility of benefiting from such services by becoming a member of their organization.
No verifications will be made as to your return. It is your responsibility to give someone you trust a copy of your itinerary, making sure to indicate the date and times of your return and instructing the person to contact emergency services (911) in the event of your absence.
In the winter, weather conditions can change quickly from mild to severe, especially in mountainous areas subject to high winds. Temperature variations on the same day can be considerable.
Damp weather at near freezing temperatures can cause risks of hypothermia and even death.
Minimizing our impact on the natural environment is a duty. The behavior you adopt during your stay at the park must constantly be guided by the desire to preserve the integrity of nature and our surroundings so that other climbers can fully enjoy the same privilege.
Parcs Québec considers the application of Leave no trace principles as the reference for behaviours in the national parks.
The 7 principles are:
For safety reasons, it is recommended to go in groups of a minimum of 3 people.
The consent of a holder of parental authority is required for minors (17 and under) to go ice climbing in the park.
Camping is authorized only in designated areas, i.e. at the Pin-Blanc and Équerre campgrounds. Pit toilets are available nearby. If you plan on spending the night at a campground, you must contact Sépaq's Customer Relations Centre at 1-800-665-6527 and pay the applicable fees (rustic camping). Please anticipate 72 hours for your application to be processed. A refund is possible for a cancellation up to five days before the beginning of the stay.
Campfires are authorized only at designated campground locations. You must reserve your fire wood at the same time as your campsite.
Domestic animals are prohibited in the designated areas for ice climbing. For more information: sepaq.com/animaux
Be sure to respect the vocation of the road you are using.
Because of the area’s isolation and topography, there is no cell phone service. It is recommended to include a satellite communication device in your equipment. Although these radios are not infallible, they are more reliable than cell phones.
Wear weather-appropriate clothing. Keep dry clothing on hand for rest periods and for once you’ve reached your overnight destination. The first sign of hypothermia is a chill that runs throughout the body. Watch out for hypothermia! Changing into dry clothing, having a hot non-alcoholic drink and eating are appropriate remedies.
Itineraries lasting several days require more preparation. Climbers must be able to travel in all types of conditions. A change in the weather or your physical condition can greatly affect the level of difficulty or your travelling speed. Off the trails, in ideal conditions an experienced group rarely moves faster than 2 km/h. The best way to travel is at a steady pace with time to enjoy the scenery.
In a forest environment or when there’s fog, hikers can easily become disoriented. It is important to notice your location when you know where you are. In short, don’t wait to be lost to try to find your way back on the map. It is therefore essential for one person in the group to be accustomed to reading topographical maps and using a compass or GPS, or both.
Generally speaking, all slopes that are great for skiing may be at risk for avalanches. To reduce this risk, you should have all the information necessary to evaluate the stability of the snow and to make the best choices. You must be able to react if an avalanche occurs. Having the right equipment is a must (avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe), as is knowing how to use it. Finally, before heading out, check current snow conditions and the weather forecast.
If you’re very careful about diet and hydration, it will be easier to maintain a comfortable body temperature. You’ll also have more energy for hiking and you’ll be more alert if you have to deal with the unexpected. Always have a few extra snacks on hand in case you need them.
Make sure to have enough drinking water. The minimum daily consumption for an adult is 2 litres. Proper hydration helps regulate body temperature and reduce the risk of muscle cramps.
Plan on how you will treat water for drinking. Bring a filter, a purifier, or drops and tablets.
No matter what the brand, model or price of the technical equipment you’ll be taking on the expedition, it’s important to be familiar with them.
Choose your backpack based on the weight of your baggage and your physical stature. Take the time to adjust your backpack wearing the clothes you’ll be wearing while hiking and climbing.
Climbers must carry out all waste, even biodegradable waste. This rule not only applies to the trails and roads, but also to the backcountry far from services and activities.
During your hike, you’ll be moving through the natural habitats of several wildlife species. By nature, these animals are not very aggressive. However, if you try to get too close to them, their survival instinct could translate into dangerous behaviour.
A Fracture, dislocation or sprain
It’s best to use a walking stick. Despite these precautions, if a member of your group gets a fracture, apply something cold to the injury and stabilize the part of the body affected.
When you get new footwear, make sure to use it a few times for at least 15 minutes each time before going hiking skiing or climbing. While skiing or snowshoeing to the climbing site, keep your feet dry and protect areas prone to blisters with a Elastoplast strip. Despite these precautions, if you have a blister, apply a bandage to prevent it from bursting in order to keep the area sterile and to give the skin time to heal. If the blister is punctured, disinfect the wound and cover it with antibiotic cream and a bandage.
Wear sunglasses with adequate UV protection, even when the sky is grey. Despite this precaution, if you come down with an inflammation of the eye, keep your eyes open, even in the dark.
Mild or Severe Wounds
It is always recommended to handle equipment safely, such as ice axes, crampons, knives, axes, campstoves, etc. Despite these precautions, if you get hurt, disinfect the wound with an antiseptic and cover it with a bandage. To prevent infection in serious injuries it is essential to cover them with sterile gauze. Serious wounds require immediate medical attention.
Leaving a friend alone in the forest
We recommend travelling in groups of three hikers. Remember never to abandon a wounded hiker, except in the case of a force majeure. Put your energy into comforting the injured person and being there for them.
What to do if you’re lost?
To prevent this situation, take your bearings regularly using your map. If you’re not sure of your location, stay calm, stop and take a few minutes to review the situation. Then return to a place that’s easy to identify on the map: the summit of a mountain, the intersection of a stream and a lake or another stream, a cliff, etc. Review the situation again. If you are lost, stay in place and wait for help. However, if you are absolutely sure that you are not lost, make the decision to continue your route or turn back and retrace your steps. Caution! Off the trails, hikers always tend to overestimate their speed. It rarely exceeds 2 km/h.
Once you have read and accepted the risks associated with the activity, you must complete the ice climbing registration form.
The form is available right at Le Draveur Visitors Centre of Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie, accessible at all times by entering via the back of the building, in the basement. You can also download and complete it before your arrival at the park.
You must deposit the completed form in the box provided for this purpose, at Le Draveur Visitors Centre of Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie, accessible at all times by entering via the back of the building, in the basement.
Each climber must individually complete a form and sign it. The circuit taken must respect the itinerary indicated on the registration form.
N.B. Ice climbing is authorized only on the tracks identified on the ice climbing registration form as well as on the map of autorised climbing walls (in French only) produced by the Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie.
Please note that access fees apply and can be paid at all times on our website.
Before heading off on this adventure, check weather conditions or snow cover, depending on the season.
Don’t forget that you must complete and deposit the ice climbing registration form in the box provided for this purpose at Le Draveur Visitors Centre. Have a great climb!
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