February 19, 2015

Return to Rogers Pass And All That Rockies Crushing!

Guy A and his pompom skiing the only fresh snow in all of Rogers Pass.

Ever since moving to the Rockies, it's been harder and harder to make the trip west to Rogers Pass. Afterall, Highway 93 South is as good as anyhting and it's less than an hour from Canmore. But, and it's a big butt, the Rockies snowpack is so fickle that you usually have to wait until spring to get any reliable turns. So, with a few days of ski guiding lined up from the Asulkan Cabin, Guy A and I decided to get in some Selkirks shnoodling before work.

In truth, it was tough leaving the Rockies at a time when hazard level at all elevations was rated LOW and Biglines was was spraying mad rhetoric about all the crushing /crushfesting taking place. Props to all the guys who got out and skiied the cool lines, but does everything in print have to be a wild, big guns blazing, crushing crushfest? I mean, isn't it just regualar, everyday, normal sticks on snow skiing? And if everything is a crushfest, what do we call it when something like Robson N. Face gets skiied? The ultimate crushing crushfest crushorama in the history of crushing crushfest crushoramas? I guess what it really boils down to is the language-game. 

The super-secret stash.

Checking out the Cedars!

Another super-secret stash.

Good conditions before the warming.

The boys touring in some heavy duty gear.

Everyday conditions at Rogers Pass.

You can check out a cool account of skiing the Monarch here.

February 01, 2015

Bugaboos Heli Skiing 2014 - 2015

Whoopi Goldberg has always been a hero of mine. Thanks to George F for the sneaky photo.

It's no secret that skiing conditions have been tough in Western Canada this year. Things aren't as bad as in the Alps, but the Alps are really bad! But even when the snow quality is less then blower in the Bugaboos, we are still able to get out for some awesome high-moutain vistas.

If you don't recognize this formation, you haven't been paying attention! The Howsers as seen from East Creek.

Pigeon Spire!

Looking west towards Mt. Stone.

Hansi Hintersteer putting it to Allouette in Rory Creek.

Burnt trees lower down on Allouette.

On the landing in Rory Creek.

Close up of Mt. Stone.

Hounds Tooth is just begging for some speed-riding.

To say nothing of the snowpatch on Snowpatch!

And Pigeon.

Visiting guide Bryan K skiing Malloy with the spires in the background.

January 14, 2015

Cascade Kronenbourg

The view that never gets old at Winter Camp Bugaboos.

Canadian winters are long and cold and no amount of whining is going to change this. So instead of harping on the fact that there is no shirts-off rock climbing anywhere nearby, all a guy can do is head to the hills with sticks on his feet or tools in his hands. 
After spending the last two weeks working on my goggle tan at Camp Bugaboos, I hadn`t even gotten back to Canmore when co-worker and super Mom Lilla M texted to see about climbing during the week off. We made plans to check out Cascade Kronenbourg - an ephemeral ice and rock route by Field, BC. No crowds and relatively mild temps made for a most excellent outing and reminded me of the first time I climbed the route 10 years ago with now famous alpinist Ian Welsted (when is this guy gonna quit facebooking and start a blog!). Unfortunately, the great ice conditions also reminded me that good skiing and good climbing rarely co-exist in the Canadian Rockies.

Approaching the route.

Lilla following the first pitch.

Lilla exhibiting - in the words of Alpine Justice - exquisite `nique.

Scratching... scratching.

Awesome, steep hooking out the roof on the second pitch.

January 12, 2015

Gripped Canadian Climber Blogs 2015

Launching the North Face of the Aiguille de Midi, September 2014.

As winter tightens its icy grip and the warm, fly days of summer fade further into darkness, I thought I'd post a picture from last season in France. The photo was taken by another pilot at launch, and captures the final steps before hucking the abyss of the Midi North Face. It still baffles me that flight is possible (sometimes not) with little more then 2.5 kgs of fabric overhead.

On another note, Gripped just published a list of Canadian Climber Blogs to check out in 2015. If it wasn't for this list, I wouldn't have known that my good friend Paul McSorley even kept a blog. Alpine Justice. Justify your day and check it out!

January 05, 2015

Potrero Chico Climbing 2014

Surfer Rosa at the Surf Bowl, Potrero Chico, Mexico. Drew Smith photo

Just before the CMH Heli Ski season started, I took a trip to Potrero Chico, Mexico. I wanted a quick and inexpensive hit of sun and stone, and Potrero seemed like the place. I went solo and camped at La Posada, and found great partners right away. With cheap camping, cheaper beer, and an infinite amount of climbing within walking distance from the tent, Potrero Chico was a great place to fuel the soul before a long Canadian winter.

The park entrance.

Lucy and Steve fueling up with margaritas before a big day of climbing.

Lowering off at the Surf Bowl.

Post climb tacitos.

Savannah and Drew at the La Posada campground.

Evening beer run.

One of the local hounds.

One of the local arachnids.

Lucy climbing at the Outrage Wall.

The beast is strong but the man is smart.

This fall started feeling like Groundhog Day. Drew Smith photo.

November 13, 2014

How to Fix The Connection Problem with Garmin GPS 60CSx and MapSource Software

About seven years ago, I purchased a Garmin 60CSx Gps. At the time, I was going through the ACMG Ski Guide Program and needed a reliable GPS unit. Since I wanted to add maps to the handheld unit, I acquired the Garmin MapSource Canada Topo series.

The combination worked great until I left the Windows XP operating system behind and moved on to Vista and now Windows 7. Since that time, I have not been able to sync my GPS unit to the MapSource software - which is to say that I have not been able to upload maps / routes to the device or download routes / waypoints to the software. Once I left XP, the MapSource was not able to detect my GPS when it was plugged in, and the main error message would be "The Serial Port Com 1 Does Not Exist."  Needless to say, this has been extremely frustrating and I have spent way too much time trolling the Internet for a solution.

Fret not.

Minus twenty degree Celsius may not be great for rock climbing, but it is good for toiling away indoors.

So here's the quick fix to link your Garmin 60CSx GPS to your MapSource software (procedure for uploading map to the device):

1) Turn GPS on and connect to computer with supplied usb cable.
2) Go to Main Menu page
3) Go to Setup
4) Go to Interface
5) Click on USB Mass Storage
6) Open MapSource Software and highlight whatever segment of the map you want to save.
7) Click on the down arrow to the right of the download to GPS icon.
8) Click on Storage Card Reader
9) Click Save
10) Don't forget to properly eject the device when done

I hope this helps! 

November 12, 2014

Solo Base

Winter just arrived with -20 degree celsius. At times like this, the safest thing to do is just kick back and pretend you are one of these guys.

November 03, 2014

Fall in the Canadian Rockies - Mt Athabasca, Mt Lorette and Echo Canyon

Climbing up the summit ridge of Mt. Athabasca with Andromeda and the Columbia Icefields in the background.

After a summer of lift-access guiding in Europe, it was refreshing to spend the the last few days of the season toughing it out in the Canadian Rockies. Here are some shots from a Thompson Rivers University Mountain 2 Course that took place in the Bow Valley and The Columbia Icefields. 

Climbing the Ridge on Mt. Lorette in K-Country.

Check out the steez on these guys!

Climbing the low-angle ice on the North Glacier of Athabasca.

Heading down. The arid landscape is reminiscent of climbing in the Andes.

Looking north towards Jasper.

And some fun climbing on the 4-pitch Prospect in Echo Canyon. The 3rd pitch is the best 5.10 in the Bow Valley. 

Rapping off with the Coliseum glowing in the afternoon light in the background.

November 01, 2014

Sweetgrass Afterglow

AFTERGLOW - Lightsuit Segment from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.

As the snow falls here in the Canadian Rockies, I thought I'd share this awesome clip from the guys at Sweetgrass. 

October 17, 2014

First Flight on Ozone Firefly 2 From Ha-Ling, Canmore

Looking up at Ha Ling, Mt. Lawrence Grassi and the Ship's Prow from the Dog Park at Quarry Lake - aka the LZ.

The shoulder season is a mellow time of year in Canmore. The days are short, the mornings are cold, and the weather is always a dog's breakfast. I was hoping to have a productive hike and fly season this fall, but the high winds have contributed to as much walking down as flying. On the rare occassion that I have gotten in the air, I've been reminded of how amazing it is to fly amongst the local peaks. 

An amazing photo by Gery Unterasinger with the rainbow slicing right through Ha Ling.

Ha Ling is probably my favorite local hike and fly as the peak sits right above the house and takes about 45 minutes to hike up and 6 minutes to fly down (on a 16 meter wing). Here is a short video from a flight off  the peak. It was a beautiful, calm morning and was perfect for a first flight on a new Ozone Firefly 2. Granted, I used to have the first generation Firefly and logged about 50 flights on it before it met a most unfortunate end. It's hard to say too much about the wing after only one six minute flight, but here's what I found:

1) Really nice leading edge with rods and mylar re-inforcing each cell. This is very confidence inspiring!

2) Risers are thinner and more user friendly than the original wing.

3) Felt very smooth, responsive and predictable in flight.

4) Noticeably slower to come up over head on launch than lighter weight wings.