Regular Posts Tagged ‘ice climbing’
Women’s Veteran Camp 2011
7th Mar 2011Posted in: Blog 2

It’s that time of year again!  Time for the Ghost Veteran’s camp…something I look forward to all year long…time to see old friends, explore and share cool areas of my back yard with psyched and motivated women, and watch people push themselves whether choosing to lead or second challenging climbs.  We have been having quite the winter this year though, and sadly we had to make the call a week prior to the start of the camp that the Ghost was “out”.  Maybe…maybe…maybe we could get ourselves in there, but staying warm, dry, sane…and getting ourselves back OUT, was entirely unlikely:)  Considering we live in the mecca of ice climbing though, the plan to stay local did not affect spirits, and the idea of daily showers and beds also went over pretty easily with everyone. Friends new and old, came from all parts of America…from Colorado, to the Eastern States and Ottawa, Red Deer and BC.  The gathering is in large part to Cheryl Wallace…who always knows how to rally the troops and believes in getting great groups out climbing together in great places!  Thanks Cheryl for all your support!

Cheryl leading on Riverview

We started the camp in -30 temps…and headed into Haffner.  Jen Olson, full ACMG mountain guide, myself and 9 highly motivated and burly women hiked in and enjoyed some sunny steep ice and mixed lines.  Despite the chilly temps, we all climbed a ton, and pretty much had the place to ourselves!

The following morning, Chris Irwin joined us and we broke into groups of 4 and headed to some different climbs to work on leading.  Jen, Sonja, Caro, and Karen went to Gibraltar wall for some sun, Kris, Pipes, Colleen and Jodi, to Grotto for some leading and mixed and Kate, Cheryl, LeeAnne and myself to Riverview.  Once in the sun, the day felt a little more welcoming and we had a great day swapping leads on the Golden classic.

LeeAnne cruising a steeper line

The following days were spent out of our new base, the Louise Hostel.  The third day we were down to 1:2 ratios and groups headed out to the weeping wall, Golden and Panther Falls to seek any opportunity to soak up sun and classic climbs. More great leads were had by Caroline, Karen, Jodi and Piper.

Jodi leading confidently on Snivelling Gully

Kate heading up Right hand Weeping Wall

Leading on ice is a serious “next step”for any ice climber.  There is a million mini decisions that go into leading a pitch of ice…from deciding where to swing your tool, if you should move on your placement, if your foot is secure, when to place a screw, and reading the ice.  All these may seem straight forward as you second a stretch of ice, but once on lead, your reward and consequence becomes very clear with every step you take. It is amazing and also a little stressful letting go of the leading reigns and watching new leaders take on this challenge. This is a big component of this camp though and I was really pleased that everyone who wanted to do some leading had a chance to do so.

Caroline on the last pitch of Guiness

The next day had groups going out to Guinness, Louise, Masseys and Murchisons.  Another cold day on the ice but manageable, and other then the Murchison team everyone was able to get back to the hostel at a decent time to get some much needed R andR!

Karen on top of Guinness

By the fifth and final morning, everyone was feeling pretty tired!!  5 days of climbing is one thing, but 5 days of really cold temps is another very tiring factor!  We headed out to our final climbs of the trip, Louise, Tokkumn and Carlsberg.  The Carlsberg team (Cheryl, Kate and Myself) were turned around by the Yoho blow….a vicous wind that ripped through Field disabling our ability to even see the road and actually contributed to us getting fully stuck on the railroad tracks!  Yikes…once we got ourselves out of that situation we joined the crew at Tokkumn and made the most of the crazy weather day by getting a lap in on the magnificent WI5  pillar in Marble Canyon.

The group minus Merrie-Beth:(

The group met up in Canmore for some drinks and a well deserved dinner at the Drake.  What a crew…always smiling and always up for the challenges!  Thanks Jen, Kris and Merrie Beth for your hard work guiding, and major THANKS to Sonja, our incredible camp manager for keeping us full, fed and happy every day and every meal!!  Thanks as well to Outdoor Research for supporting these women courses by giving every participant with new Frostline jackets!!  These sure came in handy this week! And thanks to Cheryl, Kate, Colleen, LeeAnne, Jodi, Piper, Karen and Caroline for coming out for this fun week and making the most of what mother nature gave us!  Hope to see you all back next year…for the elusive “ghost”:)

Snowline and Bear Spirit with Maria and Neil
22nd Feb 2011Posted in: Blog 0

Brrr….another -30 morning, and we were up and out the door at 6:30am.  It was a Saturday and we knew that despite the temps, the crowds would still gather at Evan Thomas!  The day before we hiked in to Bear Spirit and climbed some laps on the beautiful ice curtain and got pumped on the mixed routes.

Today we had our sights on Snowline.  As we arrived in the parking lot, there were 2 cars.  Bummed….However, I thought I might as well ask them where they were all going and it turned out to only be one party in 2 different cars!  Psyched!  We trotted down the trail in an attempt to get warm and arrived at the climbs to find ourselves the only ones there! Weird…not sure where the other group went?

As we started to shove hotpacks near every limb and digit, the sun started to creep up and gave us the hope and glory that our early start deserved!  Snowline was in excellent shape and Maria and Neil cruised up it in record speed.  The sun was incredibly uplifting and sure enough 2 other parties had joined us not long after we started up. This was Maria’s first ice multiptich and both her and Neil climbed it with ease and smiles.  Hard not to be smiling when we got to climb in the sun and hike out in the sun…AND look forward to a turtle bar from the Bagel Co waiting for us in the car!  Thanks Neil and Maria for 2 fun days!  Looking forward to more adventures:)

Essondale Right
22nd Feb 2011Posted in: Blog 0

Was fortunate enough to spend a day off with good friends Jen Olson and Mark Cosslett….Jen had big dreams of going to the Asylum, Mark psyched to get on ice, and me…wanting to see if my freshly punched out boots would still leave me hopping on one foot.  We found a sort of middle ground on Essondale Right.  Atleast none of us had climbed it before, it was in the sun and not a super long day.  Other then the not so fun hike along the highway, the approach wasn’t too bad, thanks to some stiff avi debris. We got to the climb and went through the usual ritual of figuring out who is leading what.  Jen the first pitch, Mark the second and Sarah the third.  Done.  The first pitch was a hollow thin curtain but with sticky ice, and Jen took it a full 70 meters to behind the pillar.  The pillar pitch was also super amazing one swing stick ice and it had Jen and Mark hooting in glee.  I on the other hand, had then realized that my boot punching had not helped my situation and began my one foot hopping technique that I was starting to master.  I gave Jen my final lead which she made short work of and we all headed back down.  A fun day despite the painful toe, nice to be in the sun, with friends and fun to mindlessly second some beautiful pitches.  This is a great route and I will for sure come back to it again…maybe this year still!

Women’s Next Step 2011
16th Feb 2011Posted in: Blog 1

What a crew…4 days with 6 amazing women, and 2 fabulous guides.  Thanks Jen and Kris for your great guiding energy, thanks Sonja for your incredible camp manager skills, keeping us fed, full and happy, and thanks Claire, Mary Ann, Deb, Andrea and Clarissa for all your positive energy, and motivation towards 4 days of climbing! A very special thanks to Outdoor Research, for recognizing the significance of Women specific courses and giving every woman a new Rumor hoody!!  The best all round climbing layer for both summer and winter climbing.  Thanks so much for this support OR!!!

The week started with a movement day in Haffner creek.  Having the place nearly to ourselves was such a blessing and allowed everyone to get on lots of steep ice and some fun mixed climbing.  Trying to remind ourselves that we had 3 more days of climbing, we pried ourselves away from our tools and headed towards Mosquito Creek Hostel which we called home for the next 3 nights.  Nestled along the icefields parkway, this great hostel, with a very hard working custodian, welcomed us with a warm fire, a sauna and tons of snow!  We feasted on home cooked curry and nachos and headed to bed with dreams of tool swinging for the next day.

The following morning, Jen Olson, my friend and fellow guide arrived and we all headed to Balfour Wall for more climbing and leading skills.  Jen taught the group some ice screw placing tips and some advanced foot work and pillar climbing techniques. The day brought snow and more snow, but this did not affect this group one little bit!  Both Claire and Andrea even finished the day off with some ice leads!!

The following morning, we awoke to yet more snow and very snowy roads!!  Kris Irwin joined us and the entire group headed to the famous Weeping Wall.  Jen forged her way up the right hand weeping wall with Claire and Sonja, while Kris and I shared the left hand side with Deb, Clarissa, Andrea and Mary Ann.  New snow and dense ice made the lines an extra challenge and everyone returned from the day excited and pretty tired!!

The final morning we decided to spread out and head to a few different climbs.  Jen went with Deb and Mary Ann to Lousie Falls, Kris took Sonja and Andrea to SARS and 570 where Sonja lead the final pitch of 570…nice work!! And I joined Claire squared to 2 o clock falls where Claire led us up all 3 pitches!

We regathered for a beer and burger at the Post in Louise Falls and shared our days with each other, the laughs, the challenges and when we will all do it again!

Thanks again for a fun week…a lot of laughs, inspiring, memorable, and a highlight for sure…

For more pics go to my facebook albums

Tokkumn Pole
10th Feb 2011Posted in: Blog 0

Our last day and we weren’t going to get scooped on our objective…Tokkumn Pole in Marble Canyon.  This climb is the Bow Valleys Ouray…our own little slot canyon graced with one beautiful, intimidating and magnificent pillar of ice. There are other mixed routes in the canyon, but Tokkumn is the most popular of the routes to do and accessible by a short hike and a rappel into the canyon.  I was here earlier this year with my friend Pat and Paul Bride an amazing photographer who took this shot…since I didn’t get any good ones of the guys while belaying…

Both Ken and Tim gave the Tokkumn a good run for its money and enjoyed (mostly) swinging their tools for the final time until next February rolls around again. Impressive tenacity on their part after the long day we had yesterday.  I must say I wasn’t too bothered to be the “belayer”! A parting shot of the ankle biting hand rails on the hike in….till next year guys…looking forward to the future 80 climb ticklist:)

Right Hand Weeping Wall with Ken and Tim
10th Feb 2011Posted in: Blog 0

This morning we left Banff at 6:30 unsure which mega classic to hit up…Murchison or Right Hand Weeping Wall…but as we reached the approach entrance to Murchison and saw very snow covered tracks and a temperature reading of -25 we opted to continue on to the weeping wall.  As luck would have it one car was already in the parking lot…and yes, they too wanted to climb the right hand side.  We got motivated quickly (although part of me would have been psyched for the easier left hand side!) and headed out into the brisk morning to embark on this amazing climb.

To speed things up a bit, I dragged up two ropes for the first pitch and Ken and Tim worked together climbing side by side.  It was cold, the ice was dry and this was a 60 meter Grade 4 stretcher in -20 temps…can you say screaming barfies??? In both hands and feet??  The three of us all found our own definition for this lovely term of ice climbing endearment as we hunkered under our ice overhang at the first belay. In good spirits though, we started up the crux pitch.  More dry, completely reformed vertical ice lie ahead and after 60 meters eased off to a comfy ledge.

Fabulous climbing, but a lot of work to get good sticks and restful stances.  Amazing job on Ken and Tims part.  Only 2 days of ice climbing this year prepared them for this beastly undertaking!!  Neither hung, and both came to the belay with smiles and a fist full of screws!  The last pitch looked short and easy, but once again was another 60 meters and some more steepish ice.  All in all a great day, and we glowed in our successful climb on the drive back feasting on the lunches we neglected to take up the climb with us:) Great day guys!!!

Ken and Tim Louise Falls
8th Feb 2011Posted in: Blog 0

Original Plan: Murchison

Reality: Snow storm in forecast from both directions

Back up Plan: Louise Falls/Tokkumn/Johnston trifecta

Reality: Louise Falls and excitement for climbing the other 2 on Thursday:)

We were the first to Louise falls, and after a quick approach and two pitches headed up towards the pillar.  Earlier this year I had approached the pillar from the left side and walked behind it to climb the right side of the right pillar.  This time however, I got to the left side of 2 pillars and could not get behind them anymore to get to the area of least resistance.  Instead we found ourselves a nice hole between this “new, but very dry” pillar and the old now extremely huge right hand pillar and squeeeezed ourselves out to gain the left side of the old pillar.  Untraveled terrain made the climb a little harder then in the past but super fun.    We worked together with 2 Portland climbers who shared the stance behind the pillar with us so that we wouldn’t knock any ice on them.  Made for a nice social day!  The bit of time waiting allowed us to watch a mini pillar grow in one of my foot steps.  From a small drip to a free standing pillar…pretty cool!

A great butt slide down from the base of Louise Falls had us hightailing it to the car to resume our trifecta plan.  Upon arriving at Marble Canyon however, we found Tokkumn with already 2 lines on it and 4 people in the hole. That’s okay…we’ll be back on Thursday for our turn!

Ken and Tim SARS on Ice to 570
8th Feb 2011Posted in: Blog 0

Ken and Tim are back…. I’m always excited to see these guys.  Coming from San Fransisco and New York, this 4 day ice climbing holiday is often the only time they put their harnesses on and get to swing their tools.  With that said, it is often some of the hardest ice guiding I do in the season!  In years past we have climbed Bourgeau, Whitemans, Carlsberg, and Pilsner to name a few, and this year I was nervous with the brutal winter conditions we were having what we would be able to do. With high avi hazard, lots of wind and pretty cold temps we knew we weren’t going to tick off some of the climbs on the hit list.  Day one however, we did have a great day out on another new climb(s) on the David Thompson Highway.  This stretch of road is always a landscape of its own, with windswept mountains and a big valley.

The approach to SARS was happily straightforward and the climb was a nice addition to the day.  Above the climb, we headed up another couple 100 meters to 570.  A fun pillar followed by another  60 meter pitch. The hike down was surreal as we walked through burnt trees amongst a white carpet of snow.

A great day first day out!

Dream On – the long way around
8th Feb 2011Posted in: Blog 0

Big plans to drive into the Waiporous and scout out some routes for my upcoming clients resulted in a rather lengthy driving day!  Mark Cosslett and I had hopes of climbing either Hydro, Caroline or Marion, and after suiting the vehicle with chains and eating through the lunches we had packed for the day, we drove back out of the untracked land of the Waiporous with tails between our legs.  Ok, admittedly, it was I who was too timid for the 4 by 4ing that we would have had to do, and the very good chance of spending the day digging ourselves out.  We had a back up plan, to go to Ya Ha Tinda in the dry ranges, and so after a total of 5 hours of driving we found ourselves tailing another vehicle to the parking lot!  Ah, the joys of ice climbing in a winter with high avi hazard… Alas we parked to the smiles of my comrades and mentors James Blench and Tim Auger.  These guys have put up more routes then I have probably climbed in the area, so I have a ton of respect for them! I’ve also always really enjoyed their company through work and play.  Of course at 11:30 facing a 5km walk to one particular climb and another 2.5 hour drive home, the initial greetings felt less then welcoming!  It all worked out in the end though and we were easily able to climb two separate lines up the wet and easy grade 4.  The area is really beautiful, the hike in, flat and easy, and the climb, a fun little 2 pitch grade 4 with potential for more pitches above and beside it.  All in all a good day out despite the poor ratio of driving to climbing 7.5hrs driving/ 2 hours hiking/ 1 hr climbing:)

ACC Next Step Ice and Mixed
4th Feb 2011Posted in: Blog 0

Spent a brisk but super fun weekend with the ACC Calgary crew in Haffner.  Day one was a women’s ice and mixed advanced movement day and the Sunday was co-ed.  Both days gave us some pretty chilly conditions but some excellent steep ice and fun mixed climbing.  So impressed with everyones tenacity, getting in 6-8 laps on different steep lines.  Saturday was the usual busy day in Haffner but Sunday we found ourselves almost alone!  With all the avalanche control going on around us from the Park s helicopters I had a strange feeling the road might be closed when we got out, but it wasn’t…thankfully! Strong and fun crew both days and even the Program director of the ACC, Toby Harper came out on Sunday and showed us his “off the desk” skills!