Saturday, August 31, 2013

End of Days

With the end of summer fast approaching we continued our assault on the Canadian rockies. Although we had a number of big routes left on our tick list, our bodies were starting to feel the fatigue of long days and we decided they would have to wait until next summer. We spent the last couple of weeks mixing it up quite a bit, doing everything from chill bouldering to single pitch sport climbing to long moderate trad routes to playing tourist along the Icefields Parkway up to Jasper.

We had a blast taking Kristal's cousins out for some easy climbing at Grassi Lakes.

We had a longer than expected day climbing the classic moderate Escargot Corner, which climbs the upper Norquay Slabs. Eyeing up the guidebook, Kristal was intrigued by the Lower Norquay Slabs, and figured we could add some more easy climbing to the day by tacking on a few pitches of 5.9 to the beginning of the route. It turned into a bit of an adventure, with marginally terrifying runnout slab, exceptional dirty crack climbing and much chossy goodness. Here is Kristal getting gripped at the top of the long first pitch of Inclination.

In the end it worked out for the best, as there was a pretty slow party on Escargot Corner. The 2 1/2 hours it took us to climb Inclination meant that we didn't catch up to the them until we began the descent.  They were locals, and upon hearing about our lower slab adventures responded with: "Wow, you're the first people we've ever heard of climbing down there."  Yeah, we noticed.

Escargot Corner itself was much more pleasant, although also suffered from some rock quality issues. The main attraction are these cool fossils that you climb past on the last pitch.

The views of Banff from the top were also quite exceptional.

We were joined by Kristal's parents and brother for some fun sport climbing last weekend. Here is Mark on Union Maid 5.10a at the Spray Slabs, with the Banff Springs Hotel in the background.

At some point we took a couple of days off to wait out some inclement weather, and drove up to Jasper to enjoy some hiking, touring and soaking at the Miette Hot Springs.  Here I am doing what tourists do at the Icefield Centre.

We spent much of the drive scoping out potential climbing for next summer. In addition to any number of good looking mountains we also came across this really cool featured slab. We'll be back.

Of course there were plenty of other things to see during the drive, including a seemingly endless number of glaciers...

These cool bubbling springs...

And excessive amounts of beautiful vistas...

On our last of day of climbing we decided to take a chill day and hike up to Chester Lake in Kananaskis country and the nearby Elephant Rocks. We had a blast doing some easy highball bouldering/soloing.

Here is Kristal on the most precarious looking summit in the boulder field. She was unwilling to stand there for very long.

It was a fantastic way to finish off the trip, with super fun easy climbing on solid well featured rock. The views were also spectacular.

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