March 19, 2009

Random Spring Days

Bow Valley Sunrise from the Trans Canada.

It's been a while since I last posted something of insignificance, so I'll try to make up for it here. The Yankee Doodlers - Jeremy and Danny - took off about one week ago and I was sad to see them leave. They were the uber house guests and might want to consider writing a how-to book on house-guesting. At the end of the day, I guess it's a pretty simple equation: clean house plus good company plus lots of beer in the fridge equals A1 house guests.

Before Danny had a chance to split for his native Idaho, I managed to talk him in to a quick lap on the Wapta. The ACMG Assistant Ski Exam will be taking place there starting April 6th, so I figured it might be a good idea to refresh my memory of the area. The last time I tried to get up there in January of this year, we ended up turning around before the Bow Hut due to touchy conditions. Stability wasn't much better this time around, but we managed to get up on the glacier and puttered around near Mt. Gordon and St. Nik. The wind absolutely throttled us, but it was still good to poke around.

Prior to heading out on the Wapta, I spent a day guiding Christian Milette of the CBC on some local ice. The entire session was filmed and I am confident that something will come back to haunt me.

Danny managed to snap this shot of the famous Blue Ghost that is rumored to live on the Wapta. Danny Uhlmann Photo.

The Blue Ghost trying his best to make sense of an upside-down map. Danny Uhlmann Photo.

A futile attempt on St. Nik. Danny Uhlmann Photo.

Danny retreating from St Nik.

This slab pulled out just across from the Bow Hut and was not there when we skied up in the morning. Danny Uhlmann Photo.

The following day, after saying goodbye to Danny, The Chief (formerly known as The Prince) and I thundered up to the Kicking Horse Pass area to practice beacon searches and rescue sledding. The day was marred by both success and catastrophic failure. On my first attempt to locate three buried beacons , I honed in on the nearest signal and started probing with vigorous thrusts. When I didn't record a strike, I re-checked the micro-grid and went at it again. Nothing. Strange I thought. I abandoned the area and moved on to the next beacon. I honed in on the second signal like a blood-hound and began a disciplined and deadly probe sequence. But to my surprise, I again recorded no strike. "Chief!" I cried, "what the hell is going on?" The Chief put down the stop-watch and sauntered over. He calmly took the probe out of my hand and began to poke around in the snow. "That's it," he said as he probed ever so gently. "But I probed in that same spot," I protested. We dug the beacon out and gazed in horror as the soggy pizza box that we'd used as a target was riddled with probe holes. "Oh Dear God," we said in unison, "I hope I didn't just probe right through the beacon." Of course, that's exactly what I did. $300. Boom!

Chief Poo-Neh-Na-Neh required a sled rescue after learning of the beacon tragedy.

The alarm went off the next morning at 4:30 am and unfortunately it wasn't in error. With one eye still closed in sleep, I groped in to the kitchen and engaged the stove top espresso. Once both eyes were fully functional, I rallied over to Mike T's place, and drove 2.5 hours up the Icefields Parkway to the Rampart Creek Hostel. Once there, we met with a rowdy and eager group of Yamnuska Semester Students who were keen to spend a couple of days learning the ins and outs of multi-pitch ice climbing.

Instructors and students atop the ice climb Shades of Beauty.

A student demonstrates excellent technique and perfect handwear on Day 2.

Adam and Vlad learning to multi-pitch ice climb.

The Great Danes serving up a fine cup of morning power.

Back in Canmore on Sunday morning. When the car looks like this, it might be time for a session at the ski hill.

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