August 23, 2011

Ten Days Climbing in the Canadian Rockies

Diccon W on his way to the North Face of Mt. Athabasca.

For the past ten days, I've been running around the Rockies with a host of strong and motivated clients. The weather and conditions have been nearly perfect and we were able to climb many classic objectives. Less than two days after flying home from Russia, I met Diccon W and drove up to the Icefields Parkway. We stopped for some cragging at Lake Louise on the way and it felt really good to be back in Canada.

For our first bigger climb, we opted for the North Face of Mt. Athabasca. Conditions on the approach and descent were a little sloppy but the face itself was in excellent shape. I think it would even make for a good ski descent from the summit right now... But Diccon forgot his skis so we ended up spending our next day climbing Brewers Buttress on Castle Mountain. After another day of ice cragging in a crevasse, I passed Diccon on to another guide, and he went on to climb The Kahl Route on Mt. Stanley, Gooseberry and The Grand Sentinel.

In the meantime, I joined Richard H and sons for a bunch of classic ascents that included Mt. Lefroy, Mt. Lorette, the NE Face on Ha Ling and the scramble route up Mt. Temple. It was a great ten days and I'm looking forward to a few days off.

Diccon W at The Back of The Lake.

On the North Face of Athabasca.

My brand new rope that would be cut in half by a rock 5 days later...

Climbing up towards the crux of the North Face.

Topping out the crux pitch on the North Face of Athabasca.

Topping out on Mt. Athabasca.

Climbing Brewers Buttress on Castle Mountain the following day.

Brewers Buttress may have amounted to more rock climbing than Diccon had done in his whole career.

The last moves on Castle Mountain.

The weather crapped out on the following day so we ventured back up to the North Glacier on Athabasca for some ice climbing.

Topping out the mighty crevasse.

The next day, I met up with Richard H and sons for the hike up to the Abbot Hut. John F also tagged along for this ascent.

Attacking the steep snow and scree.

This photo is really all about the sunglasses.

The West Face of Mt. Lefroy getting the day's last sun.

We left the hut at 4am the following day and were treated to a beautiful sunrise on Mt. Victoria.

Mt. Victoria as seen from Lefroy.

Tom and George climbing the summit ridge of Mt. Lefroy.

The summit of Mt. Lefroy.

We originally wanted to climb Mt. Victoria the following day but turned our sights to Mt. Lorette in K-Country instead.

Mt. Lorette is a great climb with lots of exposure.

Navigating across the big gap on Lorette.

More sunglasses.

The summit of Lorette.

One day after climbing the NE Face of Ha Ling, we finished the trip with an ascent of the scramble route on Mt. Temple.

I don't think we could have had a better day for the climb.

Looking out at Hungabee, Pinnacle, Eifel, Neptuak, Deltaform and many others.

The summit cornices.

And the summit.

August 11, 2011

Mt. Elbrus North Side Wrap-Up

Monkeying around on the stone mushrooms. Mike Roberts photo.

On August 6, 2011, The second Adventure Consultants Mt. Elbrus Expedition reached the highest point in Europe. It was a challenging trip with lots of tough weather and I think that many of us were quite surprised to find ourselves standing on top. When we arrived at high camp on Aug 5th, the winds were hammering 50 km/h and didn't abate during the night. At 3am, we fired up the stoves but ended up shutting them off and pushing the start time back to almost 8am. After walking for six hours, we reached the summit plateau and we're treated to a gift hard won through foolhardy perseverance: perfect views and a breathless walk in the sky.

Back in Canada now and about to start ten days of work. It's great to be home.

River crossing in the Russian MOG.

The Team of 16 (not all pictured).

Inside the cockpit of the MOG.

Base Camp.

Carrying gear to Camp 1.

Rock Garden.

Hiking back to Base Camp past the Rock Gadren.

Mt. Elbrus reflected from Camp 1.

View over the Caucasus Mountains.

The Hotel at Camp 1.

Evening at Camp 1 on the north side of Mt. Elbrus, Europe's highest peak in Caucasus Mountains.

Partner in crime Mike R.

High Camp at 4700 meters.

Windy summit day!

Heading for the top.

Part of the team on the summit of Mt. Elbrus.

Evening light on Mt. Elbrus. Next time, I'm bringing skis.