December 30, 2009


I haven't alpine skied in seventeen years. I gave it up because it was no longer fun on the icy east coast where I grew up. Instead, I grew a beard, refused to bathe, and... morphed into a Tele-Skier.

At the risk of sounding passionate, I love tele-skiing. What was it that Shane McConkey said in some ski film, "Half the binding, twice the fun!"

So it was a bit of a bummer when I faced up to the fact that I couldn't work at most Heli or Cat Skiing Operations on the Freeheeling sticks.

Needless to say, any resistance to the fixed-heel came to an abrupt halt today after my first run at the CMH Bobbie Burns Lodge. It's hard not to become a believer after 1500 meters of untouched blower fall line... On a pair of K2 Pontoons! Water skis man! Shane McConkey was a genius

The Pontoon

December 25, 2009

Cold Cold World

Ryan Creary snapped this shot of Josh Lavigne and I last Spring when when we tried to ski Mt. Columbia in a day, round-trip, from Canmore. If the weather hadn't whited-out, we might have actually had a respectable turns to drive / slog ratio. As it were, we spent about 5 hours driving and 11 hours slogging. As for turns, we managed to get right below the headwall before things went completely white. Which meant that we got zero turns for our effort. If there was any consolation for the day, it was that Josh managed to seriously mess up his shoulder when a crevasse bridge gave way on him. Despite the memories, I like the shot.

Another Ryan Creary shot taken about 11 hours after the previous one. Josh had just narrowly escaped the plunge so we decided that it might be a good idea to put on the rope.

If you're wondering why I'm bringing up past misadventures when the skiing is so good right now, it's because my Canon Camera crapped the bed. I sent it back to the manufacturer under a general recall, and if you own a Canon G10, you might want to check out their website to see if your camera falls under the recall as well.

As for local conditions in the Rockies, I'd say that things are setting-up to go off! A few weeks ago, Ms. Roles, Andrea E and I managed to freeze our non-gender specific nads skiing from just below the summit of Mt. Field. It felt a little audacious being up in such big terrain in the Rockies in December, and I think that perhaps it was... But things stayed manageable and a good day was had.

Brrrrrr. Erica just below the summit of Mt. Field.

Then came the cold snap, the week of -30, and 8 days of teaching the British Military to ski. During times of such duress, I find it helps to come up with a mantra and repeat it repetitively throughout the day. In this case, I went with a classic Samurai quote. "What is pain to a man? A privilege!"

These soldiers didn't blink an eye at the extreme cold because their eyeballs were frozen solid.

But as all things do, the cold came to pass and the snow started to fall. Skied around the Lake Louise Backcountry and managed to hit Surprise Pass twice in three days. The first time was epic and claimed run-of-the-season status. That lasted until the second lap.

More cool shots from Ryan Creary. This one from Rogers Pass.

Ryan Creary take four. Another one from Rogers Pass.

Another sweet day at Rogers Pass and another sweet shot from Creary. This was featured in Ski Canada a few months back.

Happy Holidays!

December 03, 2009

Ski Guide Article

The Ski Journal

This article just came out in the latest edition of The Ski Journal (TSJ). I wrote it last winter while going through the Canadian Ski Guide Certification process. It was a tough article to write because it entailed, get this, sitting on my ass for hours at a time while hammering away at the keyboard. The late, great Canadian Novelist Mordechai Richler wasn't far off when he said that ninety percent of writing is just showing up.

Photos by Ryan Creary, Joe Stock and myself.

November 29, 2009

Signs of Winter

Johnny scours the landscape for signs of Winter.

There are many signs that Winter has arrived in Canada, but perhaps nothing says Hello like a bony cliff launch. Of course, being Ali, he stuck the landing and then proceeded to whip a couple of Mojitos out of his pack for the benefit of all.

And then of course there is Welsted displaying the new Winter line by Patagonia.

Getting stuck in the Ghost is also de rigeur for the true Winter Aficionado.

After getting us stuck, John was only allowed to pretend drive.

They said they were texting for help but I'm quite sure they were just updating their facebook and fitness-singles profiles.

This is the man who graciously came to pull us out of the Waiparous. A man of many talents indeed.

John does his best to ignore the undeniable fact that his truck just spent many hours submerged in The Bog.

After spending a few too many days driving to the Ghost and getting hosed, we decided to go to Haffner and actually do some climbing.

Don't let anyone convince you otherwise, getting a pack to run across the bottom of a photo is actually an advanced Winter photo taking technique.

Another part of the Winter Matrix: almost getting smoked by a semi on the side of the Trans Canada.

November 19, 2009

El Desierto

On the road to Joshua Tree and the Mojave Desert.

Walked around amidst snow and ice in the Ghost River Valley today. Went to climb something that looked fat from the road but turned out not so. So we walked and walked and walked and had a good ol day.

Anyway, here's one last look back at the past month down south. Won't be much of this for sometime I reckon.

Hard to beat morning java in the desert.

Spiderline! So good.

Rollin around J-Tree in Jen's Veggie Benz.

Chris and Amy in the back of the Veggie Benz. Danny and I shared a campsite with this rad couple from Haines Alaska.

End of the day light.

My hand got savaged.

Amy crushing a 10d off the Geology Tour Road.

Desert Art.

The super classic Hot Rocks.

Most of the Site 13 Crew.

J-Tree Magic.

Chris and Amy chillen by the fire.

I didn't mean I'd seen everything, John Grady said.
I know you didn't.
I just meant I'd seen things I'd as soon not of.
I know it. There's hard lessons in this world.
What's the hardest?
I don't know. Maybe it's just that when things are gone they're gone. They ain't comin back.

Excerpt from Cormac McCarthy's Cities Of The Plain

November 15, 2009

The Vegas Joshua Tree Freak Show

Last climb of the trip. Spiderline at Joshua Tree.

Mad Lines along the Red Rocks Scenic Loop.

Just returned to The Rockies after thirty days down south. Man the desert is good for the soul. Left the car up north and flew to Vegas where I met up with one of the great American Bluegrass Musicians and Climbers Danny Uhlmann.

Danny getting freaky in Vegas...

...After seeing this in the window of every bookstore.

And back to the serious business of climbing rocks. Jasmin Caton made a special guest appearance fresh off a free ascent of The Moonlight Buttress. PROPS!

Bernie Mac crushing yet another piece of molten stone. I often feel bad for the rock after Bernie pulverizes it.

After trying The Gift a few too many times, I decided to transport the entire Gallery to Mars, thereby reducing the effects of gravity to about one third that of Earth.

Of course, one can only stay so long in Las Vegas before starting to feel dirty. So after a couple of weeks we split for the planet of Joshua Tree.

October 12, 2009

Sticks Stones and Danglers

PMS at the end of another good day at the Wave in Skaha

While the sun was shining and a bunch of us were tugging tats out at Skaha, the Bow Valley was getting hammered by Old Man Winter. Holy hell was I happy to be clipping bristlers instead of freezing my ass on some early season sketch fest. But not everyone shared this sentiment. By the time I got home, Mad Johnny Freeman had already gotten in a few days of ice and was getting amped on the Trophy Wall. Christ Jesus.

Mad Johnny getting freaky on The Replicant (Nov 08)

The Berglar following Mad Johnny

The Berglar realizing why Mad Johnny is Mad Johnny

Mad Johnny

Personally, the thought of climbing ice at this time of year is about as appealing as having my eyeballs sucked out with a Dirt Devil. After a long summer season of pounding around in the hills, I barely have enough energy to get out of bed before noon. Luckily, everyone else at Skaha was on the same page.

One of many Union Breaks at the Dr's Wall with T-Tony Touch, Dom and PMS

Here we have T-Tony Touch at Rogers Pass at New Years last year. This shot just appeared on the MEC Website

PMS demonstrating classic Egyptian Technique