July 26, 2013

Climbing the East Ridge of Mt. Temple and Grassi Ridge on Wiwaxy

Looking over a sea of clouds from the classic East Ridge of Mt. Temple.

Coming back from a major injury and surgery is an uncertain and delicate process. At first, you don't really know what your body is capable of. This is fine if you're hanging out at the climbing gym or pool, but presents different challenges when you're in the middle of a committing alpine or rock climb. When we started up yesterday's climb of  the East Ridge on Mt. Temple, I couldn't say with 100% certainty that my body would be able to complete the task. Up to this point, the longest climb I'd done took 7 hours and the East Ridge could possibly take twice as long. Would my leg be able to able to sustain the effort? Would my back give out? I certainly thought that if I paced myself, I could make the climb. But still, there were a few unknowns that could only be answered through performing the act itself.

In the end, the climb went great and was a huge milestone along the path of recovery. The weather was perfect, the company was tolerable and I felt reasonably strong from start to finish.  Many thanks to my partners who helped out by carrying the rope and rack. 

Some useful beta from our ascent: 
Gear: Camalots: 0.4 - 2, 8 draws, 4 nuts, light weight ice axe, light weight crampons, 1 ice screw, 60 meter rope.
All anchors on the Big Step and in the Black Towers are fixed with ring bolts.
The traverse to the Black Towers is currently in great shape with mostly bucket steps in snow.
We were able to refill our water bottles along the traverse below the Black Towers.
The summit glacier is becoming sporty.
Time: 12 hours

Darcy C climbing on the lower route with the West Face of Mt. Fay in the distance.

Scrambling low down on the route.

A perfect day in the mountains.

Taking a break low down on the route. Darcy Chilton Photo.

We put a rope on for this short step.

The first pitch on The Big Step. The climber is about half-way to the belay and is just left of the arete.

Pitch 2 on The Big Step. Darcy Chilton Photo.

Finishing the last pitch on the Big Step.

A nice walk in the sky towards the Black Towers.

Almost like the Frendo Spur.

Climbing below the Black Towers.

Good snow conditions on the traverse to the Black Towers.

A bolted station marks the start to the 1st pitch in the Towers.

The summit ridge + glacier. Darcy Chilton Photo.

The view from the summit of Mt. Temple never gets old. I wish I could say the same for the knee crushing descent.

Sara H on the crux pitch of Wiwaxy's Grassi Ridge. This was my re-introduction to leading in the alpine and Sara let me guide her up the route a few weeks ago. We took the 8:30 bus in to Lake Ohara and were worried that we might not catch the last bus out. In the end, we surprised ourselves and made the 4:30 bus. 

The rock gets better the higher you climb.

Using Sara as a crutch to stand up straight.

July 24, 2013

Stand Up Paddle on The Bow River (and other water days)

Sara H freezing her feet one early summer day on Abraham Lake off the Dave Thompson Highway.

The Canadian Rockies is not the place for year round water sports. So when we get a few warm days, it's nice to take advantage of the local waterways. I hate to admit it, but I bought a paddle board this summer. I know I know, stand up paddle seems like the water equivalent of roller blading. And I suppose it is. But after trying out a friend's board, it seemed like a relaxing and low impact way to spend time outdoors as it is much easier on the body than climbing or biking. I went with an inflatable board that is well suited to cruising rivers and have spent a few quality afternoons floating the Bow: once from Banff to Canmore and a few times from the park gate to Canmore. The Banff - Canmore run took about 2:45 and is in good shape right now with the higher water levels. The Mini-Bow (from the park gate - Canmore) takes about 50 minutes. But don't take my word for it since I don't know anything about the water.

The flotilla of pro sup-pers.

Show up and blow up!

The boards are more like little rafts. 

Brandon O looking pro.

Andy G riding switch with the Three Sisters in the background.

Surfing the bridge.

Lianne M floating towards Canmore.

Like roller blades only bigger.

Sara H got really excited about being on the water. She just started running and running and running.

Climbing next to Takkakaw Falls in the Yoho Valley.

The Falls are still booming.

July 05, 2013

Climbing The Tower of Babel

I always feel safe with Aaron B.

Well, it might not be the hardest climb on the planet, but the Tower of Babel (8 pitches, 5.8) was a great way to ease back in to longer routes. Aaron B, of Parks Canada fame, was gracious enough to guide me up the route. And I'll tell you what, if I could afford to hire a guide for every climb, I'd do it. No worries. No stress. It was great. Thanks buddy for the fun day.

After the flooding that ravaged much of Southern Alberta, the skies cleared and summer arrived with 35 degree heat. After spending most of the previous 4 months recovering indoors, I finally felt fit enough to start hobbling around outdoors, and have tried to spend every minute of the day climbing, biking, hiking, or bobbing around in the refreshing water of the Canmore Quarry. The perpetual motion has become somewhat manic, but I guess that's the way it goes when you're trying to make up for lost time.

Aaron pressing it out on pitch 4.

The South Face of Temple with the classic East Ridge on the right skyline.

Climbing with Mt. Deltaform and the Valley of the Ten Peaks in the background.

The climbing starts to get really good two pitches from the top. Lake Louise style quartzite.

Last pitch to the summit.


Team shot

Aaron relaxing after a hard day of guiding.