Its been a busy month here in the rockies. Lots of alpine adventures and great rock climbs. Hard to believe that summer is at the tail end already..things move so quickly.
Since my last blog post, I spent 3 days rock climbing with Maria in the Bow Valley. Always a pleasure to get out with her. Not only have we become good friends, but she has improved so much and so quickly in her climbing that it is super rewarding to see and fun to be a part of. Day one, we climbed at Tunnel mountain and finished the route Ballista (10c) that she wasn’t able to complete earlier this year. She cruised it and soon we headed back down and also climbed most of the new route Riel Rebellion. I was impressed with the climbing on Ballista…really good pitches!
Next day we wanted to climb Early Worm on Bourgeau but the road was still closed, so headed for Guides rock and climbed Sea of Dreams, trying the Sea of Smears start and then Sea of Dreams and Turf war starts too. Gotta say…all of these starts are pretty darn tough!!
Thankfully we had a rain day after these two days which enabled us to rest a bit and regroup so that the next day we could finally try Sisyphus…a long standing goal for Maria and a route that I had never climbed either. 21 pitches of up to 10d sport climbing up the North face of Ha Ling. We started early and despite Canmore being in the fog layer, we drove up and hiked above the clouds to enjoy our day! The first half of this climb is sustained 5.10 climbing, with the second half still being sustained but at a 5.9, to 10a range. I was impressed with the route and amazed that I hadn’t done it before. Maria did amazing, and we climbed it in about 8 hours which we were pretty psyched on!
A couple days later, I put the rock shoes away and pulled out the crampons again. The Kruis family from Ontario hired Kris and I to take them up Victoria via Abotts Pass. We met up that morning and took the bus in to O Hara and started the hike up. Of course it started to rain midway up along with a nice thunderstorm, but this family was hard core! They had already done a solid week and a half of backpacking so despite the rubble heap hike up to the hut, they kept smiles on their faces!
We enjoyed a warm hut and fire with a nice newly wed couple from Seattle and woke the next am super early to attempt Victoria. Sadly, we woke to rain, clouds and cold, but we persevered as long as we could. At some point it just got too cold and wet and knowing you have to go down the way you go up, the commitment gets more and more the farther you go. We settled for our high point and I was sooo impressed with these kids. They were a hearty crew and I have no doubt that they will accomplish anything they put their minds to!
Ahhh, the Women’s Advanced Alpine Camp time of year! Kir and I have ran this camp for 3 years now and always something I look forward to. Another strong group of women were ready to take on this high technical traverse for 5 days. This year I was brilliant enough to purchase a NEW megamid, which eliminated alot of my stress as we endured a first night of rain and thunderstorms! We climbed Abbott first day and stayed at our site below Abott and Afton. The next morning we headed up the snow and climbed Afton, lots of short pitching with heavy packs! From there we headed down and over to Rampart. Weather was holding and so we made the ascent of Rampart and stayed at our new favorite site on this traverse. Views like no other, a good water source, flat spots and a campsite in the sky!
The next morning we found our way off of Rampart and on to the Lilly Glacier and up to Saphire col. We dumped our bags, and repacked for an ascent of Dome. Last year we got lighteninged off near the summit…and this year….the exact same thing! Scary storm had us with tails between our legs, back tracking like mad. I guess this peak has a thing for storms and seige attacks by a group of women…I don’t know! We spent the rest of the day going over skills and enjoyed a dry night in the hut.
Early start the next day as the next section of Leda Polux and Castor is high and committing if a storm comes in. Luckily we had stellar wx most of the way and not till we were on the glacier did we feel chased by the black cloud! Lucky again for us though, we made it back to the Aulkan Hut dry and very tired and enjoyed having it to ourselves. Despite an early wake up the next day for Youngs, thunderstorms kept us from even trying. Instead the crew, other then Michele and I, went back to bed for some more much needed zzz’s. Michele motivated me into a crazy hut workout…damn that girl is strong! We finished the trip with rescue skills in the hut, and then hiked out to the cars. An amazing trip again this year with another great group of strong women!!!
Next trip on the docket was with Amy Jurries coming from California. She needed to test out a Goretex Jacket for Arc Teryx and thought what better way then to tick off one of the 50 classic climbs…the mighty Sir Donald! Amy and I have only climbed ice together so I was super excited to show her a bit of our backyard in the summertime! We started at Lake Louise and climbed a bunch of pitches before driving to Rogers Pass to hike in to the Sir Donald bivy. We hooked up with Dani and Kristen to hike and climb with so that we met the requirements of a team of 4 for the bear restriction. That night we went to bed with some of the scariest thunderstorms I had heard. Luckily they didn’t come right through our site but close enough to have us shaking from thunder and wishing someone would turn the lights off! After that storm I watched the night turn into a sea of stars, amazing, but by 3 am when our alarms were about to go off, a second thunderstorm came through. We slept, or tried anyway! Got up at 6 to a wet ground but clearing skies and eventually rallied for Mt Uto. Such a fun climb, and Amy rocked it.
The weather still didn’t look super stable so we didn’t linger too long at the summit and headed back to camp. By the time we were down, the rains came a couple hours later again, and we hunkered in and ate dinner in our tents. despite the wx we were hopeful that the next day we could climb Sir D and got up at 3:30 with hopes of doing so. By 5:30 we were starting up the ridge and looming and moving clouds kept Amy and I moving constantly. it was hard wx to read, but by 10:30 we had summitted and felt fairly confident that we would get off without too much bad weather. Of course the descent takes as long as the ascent, but Amy kept the fast flow and we were back at camp by 3:45. I love Sir Donald, such an amazing ridge, but for sure, the hard to read weather kept me stressed for most of the day! Thanks to Amy for keeping her cool, and just focusing in on the objective and moving quickly. Wouldn’t have continued up with many other people!! We packed out tents and bags and hiked out and drove home. A loooooong day!
Maria and I had signed up for one more day of rock climbing…in case we needed it for Sisyphus, but since we already ticked that off, I thought, why not up the ante and try Dreambeds on Yam? Of course Maria was game, and we had a great day on this fabulous 5.11a/b route on Yam. Maria did super well. I hadn’t climbed it in probably 5 or so years, and was reminded just how great of a route it is!
A few years ago, Mary Ann, Janice, Lilla and I attempted to climb Mt Robson, but instead settled for Resplendent due to not having enough time. This year Mary Ann, and Colleen hired Kris and I to tackle the beast again. The two of them spent 2 days hiking in to Extinguisher tower, and Kris and I flew in to meet them on day 3 with all the gear. This was helpful, as our packs felt a little beastly. Kris and I caught likely the ONLY weather window to get in to the tower and were dropped off just as the rains hit…again. I guess Mary Ann and Collen hiked for 2 days in the rain and the rains kept coming. That night it rained continuously and eventually snowline also dropped to our campsite. We were all aware of what that meant for the mountain up higher, lots of fresh snow, but decided after a late start to try to go to the Dome anyway. Fresh snow on the glacier made for tricky routefinding, that Kris styled and very slow and hard going on the rock ridge. Snow, ice, rock, crampons and heavy packs made the chossy rock ridge a bit of an undertaking. We managed to get off it and up the glacier to the dome just as we lost light. We dug in and started to make water and dinner.
High winds made this a challenge, but eventually we ate some dinner and hunkered down. And hunker down was all we could do. Despite being very tired from the loong day, we could not sleep a wink. Winds pushed snow on and in the tents and condensation left our stuff drenched, and cold and loud! By 7am we crawled out and saw sun along with the winds, which was a delight. Looking at the Kain face was a beautiful thing, but all the new snow and winds, along with zero sleep and wet sleeping bags, made the decision easy. We packed up slowly, enjoying the views and started the descent down. A good day back to the Tower where we enjoyed the wine and chips we stashed there and all of us slept like babies that night! The next day we high fived groups heading up and made the 3o+ km hike back to the car. Whew, those last couple km’s were a bit painful, and when I got home, I had some nice blisters on the bottom of my feet:( Mary Ann and Colleen were super troopers on this trip and did amazing through it all. A new respect for the might Robson from all of us. A truly beautiful and inspiring peak that requires just the right weather and conditions!
Well, August is almost done. On to some more rock work, and my first time roll as examiner for the ACMG assistant rock guide. Hope everyone is enjoying the rest of their summer and making the most of our precious daylight hours:)