October 30, 2010

Travel to Oman

Emirates 866 from Frankfurt to Dubai.

Well there probably won't be any climbing or mountain style posts in the next month and a half. On Oct 25th, I left Calgary for a 6 week desert-seismic tour in Oman. It may not be the most varied work in the world, but after months of winter and summer guiding, the change of pace is welcome. No cell phone. Not much computer. Barely any music. Just a lot of sand, heat and work. Not a bad way to recharge the batteries and hit the reset button. The last time I did this sort of gig was back in 2006 when I worked seismic in Libya. I find it hard to believe that 4 years have passed since then. But I guess that's how it goes. Time has a special way of crawling by from day to day while racing by from year to year.

Here are some shots from the journey over. Maybe it will make you want to travel...

Leaving Calgary. I know it's hard to believe but the Air Canada flight from Calgary to Frankfurt was 4 hours late.

Cool scenery over the south-east coast of Greenland.

Where the last photo was taken.

A much more civilized flying experience. Frankfurt to Dubai.

Emirates takes the flying experience seriously.

The map showed us flying directly over Baghdad.

On the ground in Dubai and waiting for the last flight to Muscat.

October 25, 2010

Aconcagua Revisited

Hiking to Plaza Argentina on the third day of the expedition. Note the one guy in the photo who stepped out of line to snap his own photo. The nerve.

This article just came out in the Oct / Nov issue of Gripped Magazine. I wrote it after a recent expedition to the peak that was both successful and somewhat comedic. Argentina is one of my favorite places on the planet and I hope to return before too long. Please don't let this story dissuade you!

October 18, 2010

Climbing Mt. Aberdeen

The slippery ice tongue on the North Glacier of Aberdeen.

Got out for a beautiful day on Aberdeen yesterday with Kent M from Calgary. 

We left the Lake Louise parking lot at 5:45 am under cold, clear skies. Three hours later, with temps dipping down to -15c, we started up the route's notorious ice tongue. I've climbed this with a single ice axe in the past, but the recent string of cold days has turned this feature into slightly more than a casual romp, and I was glad to have a set of proper climbing tools. We topped out under a perfectly still sky and were treated to one of the best views in the Canadian Rockies featuring: The North Face of Temple, Deltaform, Lefroy, Victoria, The Mitre, Hado, Collier, Popes, Hector, and Hungabee.

After yesterday's mountain romp, I won't feel too guilty putting in a few days of steep limestone tugging at the Lookout!

The approach to Aberdeen. The obvious V-shaped groove in the background is Surprise Pass - one of my favorite short ski tours in the Rockies.

Looking up at Mt. Aberdeen.

Climbing the ice tongue.

Still climbing the ice tongue.

Nearing the summit of Aberdeen. The North Face of Temple in the background.

The summit ridge.

October 12, 2010

Glacier Travel and Guiding on the Wapta Icefield

Last days of summer guiding for 2010.
Wrapped up the summer / fall guiding season on the Wapta Icefields over the weekend. Alot of people give the place grief for being long and flat, and I've even heard some naysayers refer to it as drudgeneering. Bah! The Wapta may not be the most aggressive terrain on the planet, but it does posses a charm that is not hard to see when looking with fresh eyes.

Hiking up to the Bow Hut on Day 1.

Cruising up the lower glacier above the Bow Hut. In the shadow of St Nik. Perfect travel conditions. Looking over at Mt. Gordon from the summit of Mt. Olive.

The undisputed Spirit Bird

Going home after a long day on the ice.
Cool patterns on the ice.

Under the ice.

Crevasse rescue class.

The scoop below Mt. Thompson.

Descending off mighty Mt. Gordon.

Timmy Mac does Blue Steel

October 04, 2010

Climbing East End Boys Yamnuska

Lots of air beneath Josh's feet on the 5.11a fifth pitch of Yamnuska's East End Boys.

Finally got on Yamnuska's East End Boys (5.12a, 7 pitches) over the weekend. Climbed with Josh Lavigne of Alpine Summits fame and both felt this to be one of the most enjoyable routes we'd done on the iconic stone. East End Boys is mostly a trad / crack line with a few sections of high quality sport climbing. We brought a double rack up to #3 Camalot and a single #4 Camalot. In hindsight, we both felt this to be excessive and agreed that a single rack in the smaller sizes would have been okay.

Josh L following the 5.10a first pitch.

Top of the 1st pitch.

Following the short 11c second pitch. Note the tongue. Josh Lavigne photo.

Looking down at Josh as he moves through the 12a boulder problem crux on pitch 3. From the belay, you can basically clip 3 bolts. This eliminates any fear factor and makes it quite an onsightable pitch for cowards like myself.

Josh finds following to be extremely boring and often falls asleep when he's not on the sharp end.

Starting the 11c fourth pitch.

SFU. The route goes straight up through the obvious roof.

Following the awesome cracks on pitch 4. Josh Lavigne photo.

Josh could not bear the thought of spending any more time at the hanging roof belay and insisted on taking the roof pitch.

Following the final 10c pitch to the top. Josh Lavigne photo.