July 05, 2009

Climbing Dreams of Verdon Ghost River Wilderness

Sonnie Trotter approaches Dreams of Verdon in the wild Ghost River Valley, AB.

In a few hours, I'll be hurtling through space on my way to Peru. As always, I am stoked for the Latin vibration, the madness and the work. The only thing that I am not overly excited for is returning to Canada in three weeks and falling off all the climbs that I now warm up on. Ahhhhhh, but I'm used to it. Unlike some people, I can barely climb a flight of stairs "off the couch," and the coming migration of mass from my upper body down to my already rotund haunches will only make things more desperate. Oh well, it's not the end of the world. And besides, didn't I write something a few weeks ago about how my buddy Chris Brazeau spent most of the winter on his ass, baking bread and researching conspiracy theories, only to come back stronger than ever? Of course, the main difference here is that Chris is actually a good climber whereas I am a total thug who relies on a ridiculously high strength to technique ratio. So basically, I'm screwed.

The other day, while driving back from Lake Louise, some friends mentioned something about rock climbing in the Ghost River. I'd been into the Ghost a bunch for ice climbing, but apart from a maniacal stag party last fall, I'd never been in there sans snow. After flipping through the guidebook, I decided that the six pitch, three star, Dreams of Verdon (12a) would be a worthy intro route.

Luckily, Canadian ace Sonnie Trotter was in town and was also keen. The forecast wasn't great, but we decided that climbing the route was worth the risk of getting fried like Peruvian Guinea Pigs in an electrical storm. Of course, with Sonnie as a rope gun, I figured we'd be up and down the thing likkity split.

In order to give us an extra margin of safety from the afternoon thunder heads, we decided to suck it up and get an 8 am alpine start. After sessioning the coffee shop, blowing the driving directions, and completing the 45 minute approach, we were climbing at the crack of noon. With dark clouds all around, it would take a small miracle for us not to get toasted...

Waving my arm in hopes of shooing away the clouds.

Sonnie's expression after he realizes that I loaded his pack with fifty pounds of rocks. It took him four pitches of climbing before this became apparent.

Nearing the top of pitch four as a squall unleashes. The route was steep enough that we didn't get soaked.

Just kinda floating up the thing.

Sonnie throws a punch after I accuse him of using a fifi hook on all his hard sends.

Getting higher...

Sonnie starting the final pitch (12a). I dared him to climb the pitch with his eyes closed, which I'm pretty sure he did.

Climbing by braille.

T-minus ten minutes before the skies unleash furious vengeance.

We ended up touching down just as the skies opened for real.

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