26 July, 2011

to the bugs

Hello all,

Sittig in a cafĂ© in Banff watching a light drizzle outside.  We've had a great time thus far.  Yesterday we climbed the Cardiac Arete (5.10d, 4p sport) on the Grand Sentinal Spire in Banff National Park.  Probably the best sport route I've ever done.  Hard to compare; it is an alpine climb on a spire not so different in aspect from Castleton Tower and the size of a walk-in closet at the summit.  And not a soul around.  We saw lynx (if not cougar) tracks on the approach.  A fine, fine day.

Ironically, perhaps the best pitch of the day was on a neighboring trad route.  We were rapping down in it and I couldn't find the 60meter rap anchors, so Anne was going to belay me back up to the 25m anchors.  But the climbing was so superb that I climbed all the way back to the summit.  It was stellar.  The only reason we didn't go down and climb the entire route was lack of BIG gear to protect an easy off-width section and the possibility of weather on the horizon.

Otherwise the climbing at Lake louise was fantastic, if crowded.  The quartzite is truly wonderful.  Good mix of sport and trad.    The van has been a joy.  Weather has been better than expected.  Some good runs and swims.

To look back, no climbing in Glacier, a rainy hike and a run.  Helena was fun seeing Stu and family.

Missoula was fantastic:  Gillian Welsh with B, Stu, Mariah, free ticket, and, of course, Shoshone Spire in Blodgett.


Good times thus far indeed.

Tomorrow we head into the Bugaboos with the hope of fair weather for at least a few days—best "looking" window of the summer, we've heard.  Good news.

When we come out, we'll head up to Mt Sir Donald and look at conditions and wx..  Then south to Skaha and homeward bound. 


Wish us luck.

21 July, 2011

shoshone spire

Shoshone Spire in Blodgett was fantastic. [III 5.9 6p].  Perfect day.  Also now back to Plan A: heading north to Glacier, Banff, and the Bugaboos.  Conditions have improved.  Currently in Helena with Stu and Chels and the Hillmans.  Fantastic time.  

18 July, 2011


Saw Gillian Welsh and David Rawlings last night in Missoula. Free ticket ... must be one of the best shows I can remember. Stu and Mariah and Pete in town. Climbed Liberty Bell a few days back (fantastic) but we are probably bailing on the Bugaboos ... too much snow! Avy danger in July .... really??? Hope to do a route in Bloggett tomorrow. Then southwards.

11 July, 2011

on the road

Heading north to Leavenworth, Mazama, Washington Pass, Squamish, and the Bugaboos.  Be back August 16th.

Mazama and the N. Cascades, Take 1

After the Asgaard rescue was called off, Anne and I decided to keep heading north. First we climbed a few routes on Cathedral Rock, including Canary, which we both thought was fantastic. Everything was going great, a good string of climbs and weather.
But great strings inevitably come short, and when we got to Mazama, my orienteering simply came unwound First, I juxtaposed two different sets of directions to the famous long bolt-route "Prime Rib" ... and thereby managed to make the opposite direction from where I knew the climb had to be. But we were following an obvious trail right? ... which did, in fact lead to a great route, Methow Inspiration Route 5-6 pitch 5.9+. Super fun beautiful day ... but had no idea what route we were on until later.
That evening we headed up to the pass were my notorious route finding would play yet a crueler joke. We planned to climb the Beckey Route on Liberty Bell (photo above) ... amazing eh. But Washington pass was still very much in winter conditions, and we were fortunate to have the foresight (or lunacy) to bring crampons and axes with us (in July!! ... to a rock route!!!) And we needed them.
But the conditions and the new area played havoc with our approach ... I never could be to sure of where we were in the range. I lacked a good photo of the entire range and could differentiate between the various spires. We were too close for a good prospective. When finally we got a good glimpse of the range we set up what we thought was the "obvious gully" leading up to Liberty Bell's south face and to the notch where Beckey's route starts. ... ...
After a good day on the Goat Wall and the Methow Inspiration Route

The Van ... car camping has never been so good.

Our "other" climbing party ... a party of four goats!

Being observed as I belay Anne down a steep gully.

But the snow quickly became very firm and gradually steepened until I began to worry about Anne's comfort, and, instead of thinking about the route, started thinking about the best way down!
This perhaps was part of my downfall, because the farther up we went, the more certain I was that this was in fact the wrong gully. I saw nothing familiar (I'm not sure what I was looking for.)
There was no obvious route, and a family of goats was tumbling rocks down on us. I decided we needed to orient ourselves: lets head down to the southern end of the massif to where I knew we could find two classic routes up the South Early Winter Spire. .,.. ...
Which we found .. ...
Amazing E face of S Early Winter Spire

Climbing the South Arete. We came down from the top of the technical pitches to beat the weather. The hail came within 2 minutes of touching ground.

Looking back from a better distance to realize, at last and to my dismay, that we had in fact climbed the proper gully to the Beckey Route. Unbelievable.
So, we are saving Beckey and another route of S Early Winter Spire for Part 2, ie--later this week!!!!
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