June 04, 2014

The Shoulder Season

Paul McSorley demonstrating how to launch the Chief in Squamish.

After the last ski mission in K-Country, I flew back east to visit my brother Tony in Baltimore. For the better part of the past decade, Tony has been working on attaining his PHD in English Literature at John Hopkins University. Being quite obtuse, it is nearly impossible for me to explain the nature of his thesis.

Anyway, in all that time, I'm ashamed to say that I've never been out to visit. Of course, the one time I do decide to make the journey, it is LAW that my travel plans coincide perfectly with the peak of spring skiing. When I arrived in Baltimore, I expressed my angst to Tony and he tried to console me by reminding me how much skiing I'd done over the winter. Although he spoke truth, I tried to explain that spring skiing in the Canadian Rockies is akin to the playoffs in any other sport, and that the short window from mid April to mid May is when almost anything is possible.

I did my best not to be a big baby and then we went to the Gunks for some climbing! Tony used to climb a lot fifteen years ago but hasn't entered the vertical world since then. Awesome is a much over used word but it was awesome going climbing with him again! We tried to keep things mellow so to ease his re-entry in to the sport, but being the Gunks, even the 5.8's can pack punch. Our first climb was a 2 pitch, 5.8+ called Airy Aria, and lets just say that if we'd topped out two minutes later, Tony's bowels may have failed him... It was a close call but a great learning opportunity, and we tried to plan accordingly for the rest of our climbs.

Tony on the first pitch of Directissima - an alternate start to the super classic High Exposure. If you look close, you can see a certain look in his eye's that says, "you need to lower me to the ground immediately before my bowels give way... again."

Climbing above the lush canopy on CCK

 I'm not sure this is something to advertise.

After the great trip back east, I took a week of work on the coast. I packed up the truck with all the toys for climbing, flying and riding and capped off  the time with a session from the First summit of the Chief. McSorley suggested that the air was reminiscent of coastal flying in places like Turkey and he wasn't mistaken. It was only the 7th time I'd flown since crashing last year, and it was the first time that I felt comfortable in the air. The Chief is a spectacular cliff launch on perfect granite and you only get a handful of steps before the ground gives way and you're flying... or not.

Pablo on the committing Squamish Chief launch.

Flying towards the Sound in the evening light.

Sara on the shores of Lake Minnewanka. A perfect way to cap off the 10 hour drive from the Coast to the Rockies.

Next time we'll bring life jackets.

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