January 07, 2009

Winter Daze

There's a new Sheriff in town...

Jason Kruk (red, above) and Ian Welsted (blue) go toe-to-toe for the "Best Male Footwear" Award.

Spent the past few days climbing on the Icefields Parkway and skiing at Sunshine. On Jan 7th, in a raging snowstorm, Jason Kruk, Ross Berg, Ian Welsted and I made a long and foolish trek to the Weeping Wall. We were hoping to climb Mix Master and weren't sure if it was in. Of course, it wasn't in... atleast not for us. But we still gave it a try. Ian led the first scrappy pitch as the three of us heckled him from below. "Living the dream buddy!" we kept yelling at our intrepid friend as he scratched his way up the slabby, insecure pitch. The higher Ian climbed, the more frequent and intense the spindrift became until he was eventually getting pummeled every few minutes. "Can you see him? Is he still there?" we kept asking each other after each round of spindrift battered the lonely warrior. For some reason, the three of us on the ground found it highly amusing that our friend - the Great Suffer Machine himself - was getting racked by the elements. Perhaps it had something to do with Ian's declaration earlier in the day that, "Even a bad day of climbing is better than a good day of skiing."

Jason and Ross on the 2.5 hour drive to a non-existent climb.

Ian leading the first pitch.

Jason and Ross watch the action.

Jason and Ross find the whole situation quite amusing.

The camera lens after a big round of spindrift.

Ian on the second pitch.

Water drops on the lens made for some cool shots.

Pitch 2

Jason slips in to his fancy footwear.

All in all, it was a long day with a high suck factor. Too much driving and not enough climbing. It happens. At least the coffee at Laggen's on the way home was over-priced and weak.

A few days earlier, I was up at the Weeping Wall with Janice N in more favorable conditions.

A fine day on the Icefields Parkway.

Ice climbing isn't always so bad.

After our expedition to the Parkway, we decided to play the conditions a little smarter the next day. Instead of hunting for something to climb, Ross, Jason and I opted to taste the local snow. We met in town for an early morning coffee session and rallied to the hill. Thirty minutes of skinning brought us to the chairlifts where we shed the skins and boarded the lifts. For the next 3 hours, we pounded the vertical at a furious pace. It was awesome!

When we called it quits around noon, we all felt that we'd more than made up for yesterday's shemozzle. As we drove away, I couldn't help but wonder how many more years I'll be able to ski like that for. Not that it's at such high level or anything, but charging like that at a ski area is so demanding on the body. It's an entirely different workout than a day in the backcountry. I can't think of too many things that I'll miss when I get old, but charging at a ski area is definitely one of them!

Ross and Jason ride the lift.

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