July 27, 2010

Climbing Mt Fay Moraine Lake

On the glacier below Mt Fay. The Centre Ice Bulge is directly above the front climbers head.

I never really noticed this before, but Mt Fay is one of the coolest looking ski peaks around. Unfortunately, we didn't take the skis along when we went for an exam training lap a few days back. But looking up a the Centre Ice Bulge Direct and the Berle / Kallen, I'm already looking forward to next Spring.

Left Canmore at 1:45 am with Ben F after already being sleep deprived from the previous few days. Met Tommy G at Moraine Lake at 3 and started the long, slow crawl up the peak. We took the Perren Route to the glacier and cruised up the West Ridge to the summit. Instead of returning back to Moraine Lake via the Perren Route, we opted for the scenic Schiesser Ledges. Holy hell, what a grind.

Below Mt. Fay.

Looking down at a party returning to the Neil Colgan Hut.

Ben F descending the West Ridge.

The Schiesser Ledges still felt enjoyable at this point. Mt. Temple and Moraine Lake in the background.

Mt. Fay and Moraine Lake.

July 23, 2010

Climbing Mt. Louis and Super Brewers on Castle Mountain

Rock stone on the Icefields Parkway

In an effort to prepare for the ACMG Full Alpine Exam at the end of the summer, I've been spending most of my free time lately checking out classic Bow Valley objectives. If you'd like more beta on any of these routes, please send me $100 cash and I'll make sure to get back to you with move by move accounts of climbs like The Kain Route on Louis and Super Brewers on Castle.

Mighty Mt. Louis

Tim A has probably climbed, guided and rescued people from Mt. Louis more than any other sentient being.

Brandon P climbing the Gmoser Route on Louis.

Pumping laps on Mt. Athabasca

After taking approximately 2 billion photos of people walking up Mt. Athabasca, I decided to turn my lens elsewhere.

Almost looks like the slithery skin of a python.

Speaking of slithering, here we have Ben F on Ultra Brewers, Castle Mountain.

Lydia M at yet another belay on Brewers Buttress.

Ben F on Brewers Buttress.

Lydia M beneath a darkening sky on Castle Mountain.

Tears of joy on top of Castle.

Ben and Lydia wandering around on the summit of Castle Mountain.

July 08, 2010

Skiing the West Face Mt Lefroy

Starting the hike from Lake Ohara to Abbot Pass on the evening of July 5th.

Went for a fun mountain adventure the other day with Chief Ali and Sheriff of Ski Eammon W. Cool temps and fresh snow up high lured us to the Sickle on Mt. Victoria. This enticing line has been eyeballing me every time I go to Lake Louise and I was stoked when Eammon and Ali agreed to break out the skis for a summer mission.

Unfortunately, we failed miserably. Minutes after leaving the Abbot Pass Hut at 4am, we were sketching along steeeep slopes over sizable cliffs. After taking off the skis to down-climb,we reached an exposed rock and pulled the pin. A lot of things need to come together to ski a line like this and I guess it just wasn't our day. In hindsight, we all agreed that we tried to come in to the line too high. In the future, it would be better to drop down lower in to the Death Trap and traverse mellower slopes in to the Sickle.

So after getting our heart rates up, we went for the second goal of the trip: The West Face on Mt. Lefroy. What can you say about Spring like stability with cold, Wintry snow?

Cool looking Quartzite on the way up to Abbot Pass.

This is not a frozen lake. It's a Rorschach Test.

Someone once told me that climbing with Eammon was like tying in with Superman.

The Abbot Pass Hut is the highest hut in Canada.

4 am

Le Retreat.

Ali staring up at Lefroy.

Good views if you're in to this sort of thing. Expression on loan to Global Alpine from Greg Thaczuk.

Mt Victoria and The Sickle from Lefroy.

Ali punching for the chains.

Step aside Wexler.

Getting closer.

Can you still call it a summit shot if you're not exactly on the summit? It's 2010! Of course you can.

Ali skiing from the top.

July 5th. What?

Big terrain on the descent in to the Death Trap. Luckily, this feature was in perfect condition.

Chillin in The Death Trap. You know, no big deal.

What you don't see here are the enormous seracs and slopes looming over head.

Getting ready for the long walk of shame. One of the problems with failing on the Sickle is that it stares at you during the entire hike out.

July 02, 2010

Climbing Astro Yam Yamnuska

Jesse Huey following pitch 5 (5.11b/c R) on Astro Yam.

Finally got back on Astro Yam yesterday after failing miserably on it two years ago. The Great American Eagle - Jesse Huey - happened to be soaring through town on his way home from crushing the Slovak Direct on Denali, and probably didn't know enough about the route to say no when I asked if he wanted to do it. Or maybe he's just such a hard ass that he wasn't in the least intimidated. I don't know. What I do know is that Jesse possesses that rare combination of stoke, talent and humor that has and will continue to see him shred many of the world's great climbs.

So on a cool, crisp Canada Day morning that felt more like Labor Day than the beginning of Summer, we plugged into the Ipods and cruised up to the base of Yam. Perfect temps for sticking to the stone! Since I've barely listened to anything other that Wilco for the past three months, I decided to stay the course and rocked out to a live version of Atleast Thats What You Said over and over.

Climbing something like Astro Yam is an interesting thing. The route is not impossibly hard, but it does require a certain commitment to the process. You really have to want to be there; way above your last marginal piece, pulling on questionable holds. In my experience, Astro Yam is among the best and most rewarding routes on Yam.

The holds are chalked. Go do it!

Jesse starting the runout 5.10c second pitch. The guide book doesn't even give this an R rating, yet we both felt this was the most serious pitch on the route. There are two bolts on the pitch but they are rusty and half out of the rock, and do not inspire much confidence. Whoever bucks up and retro-fits Astro Yam will be doing the climbing community a big favor.

Jesse getting into it on pitch 2.

Getting freaky.

Twenty feet out from marginal pro, fifty feet until the chains... The freak is on.

Following the third pitch (5.11b)

Jesse demonstrating gratuitous lunge technique.


Jesse leading the 5.10 b traverse. This pitch requires three long slings and breasts of steel.

Someone was kind enough to leave a pacifier at the top of the crux 5.11 b/c pitch.

Following pitch 5.

Cool view looking down at the scree slopes.

I passed the pacifier to Jesse moments after this photo was taken.

Starting the final pitch to the top. Jesse stepped up and linked pitches 6 and 7 with a 70 meter rope.

The climbing off the belay was really good!

Going for the top.

Some people call this a summit photo. I call it a Thank God It's Over photo.

But I guess it's not really over until the beers are cracked.