April 22, 2010

Spring Sessions

Climbers on Yamnuska.

Had a ridiculous few days of climbing over the past week with ludicrous Spring time weather. It seemed that every time I logged on to the weather fx, I was confronted with this:

7 straight days of Huevo Fritos.

After sessioning at Grassi, Bataan and Yamnuska, Matty M and I rallied up to the Back of the Lake yesterday. Headed straight to the Air Voyage wall and pumped a few laps on Mr. Rogers, Manhattan and Scared Peaches. Bone dry rock, perfect temps and zero crowds made for a pretty special day. If my partner had been anyone other than Matty M, I'm sure they would've slapped me for repeating, "I can't believe we're climbing Peaches on April 21st!" over and over and over.

Matty M floating Mr Rogers at the Back of the Lake, Lake Louise. April 21st.

Scared Peaches. Ben Moon Photo

Ms. Roles heading down to the Meathooks Cave at Grassi.

Grassi Lakes.

Someone just left these sitting here.

April 18, 2010


There is a sport that exists in the Canadian Rockies unlike any other. It resides in a place outside of time, outside of mind, lurking in the deepest, most terrifying recesses of self. Not quite climbing. Not quite mountaineering. Not quite grovelling.

This sport of course is Yamneering and could perhaps be likened to an extremely hot yoga class filled with dudes in Lululemon.

If this sounds like a wholly-unappealing-bordering-on-nauseating-pursuit, you would not be far off.

But for some strange reason (probably boredom) I come back to this place, this hallowed ground, year after year. If you asked me why, I could not give you a good answer. The rock is shoddy, the approach is steep and rarely does one come across women in this strange and hostile land.

Eventually, one must either change the question or be satisfied living in a world without answers.

So instead of asking WHY climb on Yam, perhaps it would be better to ask HOW to climb on Yam. Simple. A) Find a route grid-bolted with as many shiny new bristlers as possible. B) Make sure the line seeks out as much dark, grey, prickly limestone as possible (even if this means making a borderline girdle traverse of the cliff). C) Recruit a much better climber than oneself who will pretty much lead the entire climb but let you cherry-pick the occasional pitch (ie: the short pitches where you can clip a minimum of two bolts from any stance).

With these three things in mind, I hired top-gun Josh Lavigne for a lap on the big stone yesterday. We climbed Grey Scales, a 6 pitch 11d, which featured excellent rock (for Yam) and nary a single gear placement. The route is now in great condition with chalk marks on all the hard to see holds. Definitely the closest thing to a true sport climb on the cliff. Props to Andy G for the quality line.

Josh following the 3rd 11b pitch.

Climbers climbing a climb.

A rare photo of Josh belaying with both hands and not reading the instruction manual for one of his many cameras.

Josh pumping through the 11d crux.

Following Josh's lead through the crux. As a back-up to the top rope, I also climb with a light-weight base rig just in case. Josh Lavigne photos.

Taking a nap after the crux.

Grimping the last few moves to the chains.

As my Mother often says, "The weather was so beautiful you could puke." Josh Lavigne photo.

Until it started to rain.

April 07, 2010

Heli Skiing at CMH

Laying tracks on a run called Buffalo in the Selkirks.

After what seems like an entire season without much snow, Winter has finally decided to show up. A day late and a buck short, but atleast it tried. With so many buried weak layers in the snowpack, I'm not expecting much in the way of spring skiing. But hey, you never know. That said, it won't matter much what the snow is doing when I'm getting my ass handed to me on a dusty platter in Splittsville Utah.

In the meantime, here are some shots from the past week and a half at CMH Bobbie Burns.

Matty D snapped this shot of me a few months back. It was a really weird day where everything was black and white except for my jacket. I have never seen this phenomenon before or since.

More schussing in the Selkirks.

Snow safety checks out a meaty size 2 that was remotely triggered by a group above. The crown was as tall as 1.3 meters and the bed surface was V, 10mm. Spooky.

Going with gravity on Snuffalo in the Selkirks.

Skiing in the Purcells on a run called Hasta la Vista. We bombed this run before skiing it and got a couple of good results.