May 31, 2010

Skiing Skyladder, Mt. Andromeda

An aerial view of Mt. Andromeda shot by Jon Waslsh. Skyladder is the rightmost line. Jon Walsh photo.
Had a great day on Skyladder yesterday with big man Eammon Walsh. If your first reaction is -hey waitta minute, I thought Eammon didn't stoop to climbing piddly alpine objectives with the intention of sliding down them , - you would not be alone. But Spring can do strange things to a man's mind and after day tripping Mt Columbia last week, it seems that Rockies Skiing just might have a new Sherriff.

After a rainy and auspicious start to the day, the skies cleared around Saskatchewan River Crossing. While the Bow Valley was festering in snow and rain, we were tanning ourselves on the Icefields Parkway.

Eammon approaching the route.

The MOG does not fear holes in the snow.

Climbing the lower half of the route.

Hey Eammon, could you strike a pose?

A rare shot of me breaking trail. Eammon Walsh Photo.

The serious summit pose.

Heading down.

Still heading down.

Eammon looking back at his handiwork.

The Brewster Monster Truck Show.

Eammon was so hungry that he tried to eat one of the Monster Trucks.

May 25, 2010

The Athabascahorn

Simon R taking it to the chains on Mt. Athabasca.

This past weekend kicked off another much anticipated guiding season on the regal Athabascahorn. Myself, along with four of Yamnuska's finest and eighteen well-honed students, summitted La BĂȘte on Monday, May 24th at 10:30 am. Our ascent was the coup de grace of a three day Snow and Ice Long Weekend hosted by Yamnuska Mountain Adventures.

In the days leading up to our ascent, students were versed in the art of mountain travel. When game day arrived at 3:30 am Monday morning, there was nothing left to do but cover our faces from the driving wind and ascend in to the darkness. Although our ascent may have started out as more of a Parthian Shot than a full-on summit raid, the winds soon abated and we were well positioned to attain the heights.

Barry B is So Stoked! All he kept talking about was laying tracks down The Skyladder.

Barry performs a magic trick whereby he extricates a helpless woman from a crevasse using only two fingers and lots of mechanical advantage.

Students attempt to duplicate the magic.

Heading up in the early am.

Barry leading the brigade beneath the Andromeda Strain.

Climbing up to the glacier.

Cool morning light.

Certain paranormal activity.

Climbing the Hillary Step.

Like Everest only harder and with 120 less climbers.

Athabascabots. Some companies have taken to hiring robots to guide the mountain.

The Robots even dance.

More paranormal activity.

Heading towards the light.

The precipitous North Face of Athabasca falls away to the climbers left.

Just another 5.14 tick for Strong Simon R.

I was worried that the mountain would have trouble supporting the weight of this many climbers.

Sean Iceaxe and company in the shadow of Mt. Andromeda.

May 19, 2010

Pine Warfare

Looking down at Lake Louise at 5 am.

Well it finally happened. Too many nights without a solid freeze has brought Rockies skiing to its knees. Isothermal slop launched a major offensive over the weekend, taking over the snowy kingdom for the time being. Colder temps are forecast for next week however, which may (or may not) lead the Resistance to launch a counter offensive. Stay tuned.

May 16, 2010

Ski Mountaineering at Icefall Lodge

At the beginning of May, I spent a week working the Advanced Ski Mountaineering Course at Icefall Lodge. Snug conditions early in the week quickly turned heads-up after a passing storm dropped 70 cms in the alpine. Of course, this also made for some fine turns.

The convoy approaches the heli pickup after 2 hours on a logging road just west of Golden, BC.

I spent the next week extricating rocks and dirt from my teeth after this pick-up.

Day 1. Ryan Stuart on a writing assignment for Backcountry Magazine.

Day 2. Crevasse rescue.

Day 8. Still trying to get out of the damn crevasse.

Trying to figure out where we are and where we be might going. Personally, I prefer Tarot cards and a Glass Ball.

Heading out to La Clytte after the big dump. Snow amounts increased dramatically with elevation.

Showing off some skin.

Heading up to Crampon Col and the new Lyell Hut. If we'd had a Glass Ball, perhaps we would have chosen another route...

Breaking trail below Crampon Col.

Ryan S topping out.

Traversing over to the top of the Col.

And Boom! Check out what happens when you combine a steep NE aspect, 50 cms of storm snow, a buried crust and an ambitious (one word for it) ski cut. I was not surprised that the slope slid, but I was surprised at the size. Before cutting it, I did a few stability tests that yielded moderate to hard results. I had a well positioned spotter with a radio and gave the group detailed instructions on how to ski the slope after me. I remained on the surface throughout the slide and fought hard to stay that way. You can see my ski tracks about two-thirds of the way down on the lookers left (where I came to a stop.) Below this was a large crevasse that swallowed much of the debris. This shot was taken by another party a few days later. Chris Argue Photo.

The crevasse that swallowed some of the debris. Chris Argue Photo.

Our group decided to bail on the Lyell Hut after the slide and focus on objectives closer to home. Ryan S approaching the summit of Mt. Kimmel the following day.

Elora and Carla getting juiced on the summit of Mt. Kimmel.

Carla on the lower slopes of Mt. Kimmel.

Chillen at the hut after some good Spring turns.

Approaching the Groove Tube on La Clytte.

La Clytte and The Groove Tube.

Making the tranny from skins to the boot pack.

Getting high in the Groove Tube.

Top of the GT with the mighty Icefall Peak in the background.

RC Cola shreddin on his way to the Shark's Gate.

Ryan S tele-doggin down from the Shark's Gate.

Back at the lodge after a fine Spring day.

The ski and hike out from the Lodge. Many days of Alaskan bush whacking prepared me well for this challenge.

I can't tell if RC Cola was stoked or bummed that the hike out was almost over.