Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sport Vultures

The last week has been interesting for sure, and a bit of a departure from our recent routine.  For one thing, the weather hasn't been super co-operative.  We've often seen views like this.

Which was taken while climbing with Kristal's brother and parents, and surprisingly we didn't actually get rained out.  But otherwise, the threat of inclement weather has resulted in us going single pitch sport climbing more than usual.  Which has been pretty fun.  And in three days of sport climbing around the Canmore area we have bootied 3 whole quickdraws.  This has caused us to jokingly give ourselves the nickname of 'Sport Vultures', swooping in to retrieve the abandoned gear of climbers who bail, and don't have the wherewithal to just leave a booty biner.

We also helped out Kristal's aunt and uncle in Calgary, who were on vacation (ha!), and we spent most of the week living in the suburbs looking after their dog and two children.  It was nice to get another little break and live on the inside for a while, and we all spent a fun day at the Calgary Zoo.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Short Days

The next two big climbs we tackled were both pretty easy (in the 5.6 range of difficulty), and we were excited to simul climb as much of them as possible to save time.  First up was the North East Buttress of Ha Ling Peak, overlooking the town of Canmore.

Here's Kristal about midway up.

And approaching the summit.

After seeing no one else on the entire climb we were surprised to see a tonne of people at the top, who had hiked the popular summit trail up the backside.  Here's the view of Canmore from the top.

And Kristal hiking back to the car along Whitemans Pond after the descent.

Despite the 1500 ft of climbing it turned into a surprisingly short day.  We were able to simul climb most of it, and made the car to car trip in just over 5 hours.  With plenty of daylight left we headed into town and decided to move camp down to beautiful Kaninaskis country.

The next day we climbed Joy, a fun slab up Mount Indefatigable that follows a huge corner for an astounding 2000 ft.  It's pretty rare that you get such a huge feature that goes on for so long.  Here is Kristal near the start.

And again nearing the top.

We were able to simul climb the entire thing, and after just over 3 hours we pulled onto the summit ridge overlooking Upper Kaninaskis Lake.

The scenery was breathtaking and we were excited to find many pretty wildflowers near the summit.

As well as a fair bit of snow.

A huge scree slope allowed us to make relatively quick work of the descent.  Scree skiing is so much fun, and so much easier on the knees than hiking a regular descent trail!

We were again pleasantly surprised at how short the day ended up, returning to the car only 6 hours after starting out.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Long Days

Since arriving in the Rockies we have been drooling over the many long routes in our guidebook. There are a LOT of big mountains here, and even though a lot of the rock is of pretty poor quality, there is plenty of good (or at least 'good enough') rock to be found. We've been slowly working through our list over the last week. Our first big route was Direttissima 5.8+ up Mount Yamnuska, which is an impressive 1300 foot wall perched at the edge of the front range.

Here is Kristal traversing over to Direttissima along the top of the huge scree slope at the base of the cliff.

And some photos on route.

Kristal at the summit.

The backside of Yamnuska was actually quite surprising. After pulling over the lip of the sheer vertical wall you are presented with a seemingly never ending slope of loose rocks.

It was our first introduction to 'scree skiing', which is now our new favourite way to get down from the top of a climb.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Back in the Harness

The trip back east was nice, and despite some uncertainty, the wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch. We enjoyed some great weather in the Muskoka area and Kristal was excited to catch up with many of her friends from undergrad. Here we are all dressed up.

But after a week off, we were excited to climb again. Highlights from the last week include taking Kristal's cousins Olivia and Natalia out climbing. We headed to Grassi Lakes, just outside of Canmore, and set up some topropes for them.

They both had a great time and did really well, making it up everything we put them on.

We also saw some bighorn sheep beside the road on the drive up.

We are definitely in the land of afternoon thunderstorms now though, and got stuck in a hailstorm on the drive back to Calgary one day.  The storms do make for some pretty rainbows though.