December 28, 2012

More Skiing From HWY 93 South

Gery U skiing the Boxing Day Chute - aka The Badonkadonk - on Dec 26th. 

Well, there's not much I can say about Rockies skiing right now that isn't better expressed by a few images. It's like having an uncrowded Rogers Pass forty-five minutes from Canmore.

Climbing The Badonkadonk

Ben F. - otherwise known as the Monkey Commander - punching a track to the top. Would you believe that this guy has a 300 pound safe full of bananas in the back of his truck?

Gery U and the Canadian Matterhorn

Monkey Commander as seen through the lens of Gery U.

Another Gery U photo. Man, this guy can really snap em off

The Rockwall and the Good Sirs. Gery U Photo.

Ben F starting a 900 meter drop

On the summit of the Badonkadonk with the Good Sirs rising up in the background.

December 25, 2012

Skiing HWY 93 South - The Radium Highway

Andy laying into some North Facing shots somewhere between Castle Junction and Radium...

I can't remember the last time I wasn't working over the holidays. So in an attempt to mix things up, I took XMAS and New Years off, and have been trying to make the most of my time. Of course, one person's useful time is another person's wasted time. But in any case, I think it's pretty important not only to work and guide in the mountains, but also to play in the mountains. So for three days from Dec 22 - 24, I had the pleasure of skiing around The Radium Highway in Kootenay National Park with a bunch of grown up kids. Since I was threatened with beatings if I divulged the exact location, I have done my best to be somewhat reticent.

It still amazes me how some of the best days have the most auspicious beginnings. Take day 1 for example.  The day started with an early morning drive towards the Emerald Slide Path but ended at a coffee shop in Field. The sky was still dark, high winds racked the area, and no one was motivated to venture any further. So we back tracked to Highway 93 South and pulled over at destination #2. From the parking lot, our chosen objective looked bony and Greg summed it up well when he said, "Well, it looks terrible but I don't want to drive any further." So we headed up and grovelled in facets and deadfall for the next few hours. Had anyone been vocal about turning around, I'm sure we would have bailed. But we kept our thoughts mostly to ourselves and when someone did question our decision, Greg was quick to point out that we had no choice but to carry on, "Face it, this sucks. But we're here. So keep going."

"Hey, it's better than it was in July," Ben added.

Of course, after gaining a few hundred meters, the snowpack got deeper and more supportive and the deadfall disappeared. After 1000 meters, we reached the top, ripped the skins and well, I think the photos do a good job of telling the rest of the story.

Happy Holidays

The old burns are the area's signature characteristic. John N and Bender Dundat putting in a track on day 1. According to Ben, the skiing was better than it was in July.

Gery U enjoying the fruits of our labor on day 3.

Steep trees that open into big slide paths for 800+ meters. Gery U photo.

John N on day 1.

Eammon W on day 2.

G-Unit documenting.

"Hey Gery, what do you think about the conditions?"
"What difference does it make, we're going to ski it anyway!"

Finding some of these open slide paths requires good land-marking and a bit of luck.

Gery U on day 3.

Andy keeping his head above the cloud. Kind of reminds me of a periscope on a submarine.

Andy on day 1.

Greg, Andy and Eammon on day 2.

John, Ben and Greg after working hard to set the up-track on day 1.

Bender on day 1 with no tracks anywhere on the peak.

Looking north towards Quadra, Deltaform, Hungabee, Fay, etc.

Mt. Ball to the East.

Gery charging out of the trees in to the slide path.

Looking SE towards Mt. Assiniboine.

Early morning on Dec 24th, 2012.

Gery taking it to the chains.

Some bozo on tele sticks. Gery U Photo.

Extended misery on the tele sticks. Gery U photo.

Greg T practicing for his next career as a heli-ski guide.

November 27, 2012

Rock Climbing in Turkey - The End

Iris making short work of a 7a+ at Geyik Bayiri

Well, as all things must, my time in Turkey came to an end. After seven weeks of flying and climbing and travel, I was ready to come home. I left Jositos at one in the morning and caught a four a.m. flight out of Antalya bound for Montreal. After four nights in the city, the jet lag and sub zero temps are still kicking my ass. 

During the past year, I became mildly obsessed with learning to fly and gave up all personal climbing. I devoted every spare minute to flying - or at least to sitting around, getting fat and waiting to fly. Needless to say, kicking back in a seat while toodling around in the air does not do great things for one's climbing. You may be able to defy gravity with some nylon overhead, but when it comes down to the pure form of man vs. gravity, it's a no-contest. So it was with an open mind and detached ego that I went in to this trip. Expecting little of myself in terms of grades and striving only to enjoy the time, the movement, the process, the people and the effort. Of course, this was a noble plan in theory but... I don't care how detached you might be, pumping out on too many 5.EZ's will still induce Hulk Moments in even the most Zen. 

The finishing moves on a 7a+ at the Sarkit sector.

Danish Iris strolling a 7a+ right above camp.

Going food shopping with the Canadian sisters Nico and Sisi.

Sisi got hungry before we found the grocery store.

Mikkel is the Danish Chris Sharma.

Pantomime is an unfortunate part of the climbing experience.

Ella and I hitched in to Antalya one day and got picked up by a a sweet woman who stopped every 2 minutes to show us the local plants, flowers and fruits. 

Playing tourist in Antalya's old city.

Spice pyramids.


The Swissy came out for a 5 day vacation to play around on Turkey's awesome stone!

A grim travel day...

Arriving at Geyik Bayiri on day 1.

Nico climbing at the Sarkit sector.

A whole nuther sort of adventure... Breakfast with Mom and Tones in Montreal.

November 16, 2012

From Flying in Olu Deniz to Climbing in Geyik Bayiri

Looking out from Babadag's 1900 meter launch on the last flight of the last day. Pretty magical until you actually entered the clouds. Then it was terrifying.

After 35 days, 90 flights and way too many Turkish Lira, the flying season at Olu Deniz, Turkey came to a quiet end and it was time to leave. Just like that. This was the first extended flying trip I have been on and it's a funny thing. After 15+ years of climbing and going on an annual fall pilgrimage, it felt strange to spend this time of year pursuing a different pursuit. Unfaithful? Not like I have any direct experience with this word, but yes, it felt that way and I constantly found myself explaining to people that I was still in to climbing and that this was just a temporary diversion. 

So once the flying season shut down, I took a 3 hour bus ride from Fethiye to Antalya, and then hitched to the Turkish limestone climbing mecca of Geyik Bayiri. This was no small feat with 3 wings, 2 flying harnesses and some climbing gear, but thanks to the Turkish hospitality, I made it without too much hassle. The local bus drivers were great about telling me when I needed to transfer buses and I never waited more than a minute when I put out the thumb. 

For the past week, I've been staying at Josito's - in the heart of the climbing. Some friends from Canada showed up a couple days ago and it's been awesome hanging with familiar faces. After barely doing any personal climbing for the past year, coming back to the climbing world has been good. I showed up alone in Geyik Bayiri, and found a bunch of welcoming and supportive partners. It reminded me that the climbing community is really cool that way - like a big and welcoming family spread out across the globe. And even though I hardly have the strength to climb a ladder, it is good for making me try hard - "Full Attack!" as the Germans are fond of saying.

Alas, here some parting shots from Olu Deniz and a few new ones from climbing in Geyik Bayiri.

Babadag's 1700 meter launch feels like you are hanging directly above the Med.

I learnt a lot from this sign.

And this sign.

Like a hawk... hunting for topless prey.

Playing with the Ozone Fazer 12 at Babadag's 1700 meter launch.

The Swissies are always precise with the launch.

One of my goals for the trip was to learn how to barrel roll my 16 meter and 12 meter wings. After 30+ flights on each wing (over water + with a reserve), I became comfortable with the maneuver (although I still wasn't trying it close too close to the ground). This photo is from a spiral / steep 360 that I often used to enter the roll. Being in an environment where everyone and their grandmothers were throwing infinite tumbles through the clouds, the barrel roll didn't seem like a big deal.

Jim B and Prince Ali enjoying a morning cappucino in between flights. The Prince managed to pull himself away from his beloved Wadiya in order to spend two weeks learning the art of flight from the area's numerous Turkish Champions.

The Prince and Princess at launch.

Busy skies and a busy lz during the Air Games. The congestion made for some interesting landings...

Ever since watching a video of a friend landing on a sandy beach in the Dominican Republic, I wanted to do the same. Although the sand isn't great for your wing, it's a pretty cool place to land (not to mention a forgiving place when you blow a swoop).

Spectators or moving targets?

Cody M forking over the $$$ to the Forestry Service for use of the road to launch. This cost 17 Lira per flight and made a flying trip to Olu Deniz a pricey affair. The impressive thing was that this fee was applied whether you chose to hike 3+ hours up the mountain or drive.

Turkish tandems are immune to the dangers of clouds.

Last men standing. Cody M and I spent 35 days lurking in the skies and streets of Olu Deniz. 

Cody and Simon looking for a hole.

Opting for different routes through the clouds.

Looking down at Olu Deniz and the Med.

It was cool watching the Swiss treat eachothers wings like trampolines.

Until next time...

Nico on a 6c+ at Sarkit

Sisi on an awesome 7a at Sarkit

Sisi and Nico hanging at the Climbers Garden.