Canadian Rockies

Rockies Ice

Tags: Posted on February 18, 2013

This post is going to be a quick and dirty.  No preaching, no spraying, no shameless advertising!   I've been so busy with work, training, and life lately that blogging time has been sparse to say the least.  So until the next one, I'm mainly just going to post a few pics of me for a change, thanks to Paul and Magda.  I don't usually post very many photos of myself but here's a few from some of the amazing Rockies classics I've been on lately.  i wish I had some skiing photos from some of the neck deep days at the Rogers Pass I've had, but it's too hard to stop and take them when you're having that much fun.  The ski posts will come soon as the days get longer and more interesting adventures begin to unfold.…  For now, here's some climbing b-roll, Canadian Rockies style... 
Me, on the fourth pitch of Cryophobia, M8 225 meters.  Easily one of the best mixed routes in range!  Photo: Magda Kosior


me on the second pitch of the French Reality. Yet another multi-pitch mega classic!  Photo:Paul Bride


Me on the second pitch of Nightmare on Wolf Street.  Another one of my vavorites.  The Stanley Headwall is in great shape shape this year!  Photo: Paul Bride

The first mixed pitch of Nightmare on Wolf Street with Magda Kosior on belay duty.  Photo: Paul Bride  

Skate skiing is one of my favorite forms of training, and who better to do it with than my 27 month old daughter Zoe.  Here she's immitating me without the skis during a break.  "Faster Daddy faster" is what i mostly hear when towing her!    


And here's a photo of where I'm going in a week, for a week!  One of my favorite zones.  Hopefully conditions will be as good as the last two times.  

Check Your Head

Tags: Posted on December 01, 2012

A photo of me taken by Joshua Lavigne on nearing the top of the second pitch. (Yes, we goofed around with camera gear, did some filming and photo work.  The beauty of climbing as a team of three!)

Check Your Head  M6+R, WI 5+ 180m;  FA:Jason Kruk, Joshua Lavigne, Jon Walsh  November 25th, 2012

This mixed adventure is well worth the long approach.  Skis are recommended.  You can see the upper half of the route from highway 93, and it lies at the right end of of the first main wall at the Storm Creek Headwall.  The rock is excellent and belays are mostly bolted, and at good stances.  For the most part, the drytooling is very positive in good cracks, and protects well with natural gear.   The best place to park is at the Stanley Headwall parking, approximately .8 km south of the Storm Creek Headwall fire break approach slope, which has a "no stopping avalanche zone" sign on the highway right below it.  The route itself lies in a big avalanche path, so stable snow conditions are needed to climb it.

Ski up the fire break, take the road to the left at the top of it to the creek.  Follow the creek up the drainage to headwall.  Ascend the fan to the base of the route, 2.5 - 3 hours.    

Approach pitch: solo 30 meters of very thin WI2 (no pro), to an ice belay in a cave.

Pitch 1:  M6, 32 meters  - Start up a couple short ice flows and gain a left facing corner with good gear.  A couple delicate slab moves gain a short right facing corner.  Follow it for a couple body lengths to a left facing corner that leads to a snow ledge and a two bolt belay. 

Pitch 2: M6+ R, 35 meters  - Take the groove straight up from the left edge of the ledge.  Move leftwards past  two pitons (only fixed pro on route).  The second is a very good lost arrow.  Once it's clipped, traverse left on small edges and continue trending up and left until another crack can be reached.   Follow it straight up and eventually becomes a shallow right facing corner,  that ends at a snow ledge, a two bolt belay, and the lower angle halfway "ledge".  The second half of the traverse is a little bit run-out, but not the hardest part of the pitch.  

Pitch 3: M5 25 meters  -  Head up from the belay, and then take a hard left where it's easiest.  A two bolt anchor is found just before the ice.

Pitch 4: WI 5+ 40 meters  -  The left side of the ice was thicker and offered the most protectable line.  Small rock gear was useful to protect the initial moves onto the thin curtain at the bottom.  We belayed at a protected stance from ice screws on the right hand side, before the final steep pillar.

Pitch 5: WI 4+ 25 meters  -  Straight forward high quality ice climbing to an ice anchor at the top. 

Rappel notes:  It's a 57-meter rappel from the top of the ice to the highest bolted anchor.   Then a 45-50-meter rappel straight down to a 2-nut station at a hanging stance (drill battery died).   Then a 20 meter free hanging rappel to the ground.

Rack: 2 60-meter ropes; 1 set of nuts, 1 set of micro cams, 2 sets of cams from .3 camelot to #3 camelot.  8-10 ice screws.  Pitons optional (we placed 2 and left them fixed).

Two different angles of the climb, showing the belays and rappel stations



Recent favorites

Tags: Posted on October 14, 2012

The last couple months have been one of the best high pressures I can remember in years.  On stat I heard was it's been the warmest summer in Calgary since 1881!  It was so nice in fact that it was impossibe for me to sit at a desk and share the photos, stories, or get much else done, as the mountains were calling.... 

 I'm lucky and grateful to live in such an amazing part of the world.  The Canadian Rockies are at my doorstep and the Bugaboos and Selkirks are a short drive away.   These three ranges never cease to blow my mind!  A few more reasons why I love being a canadian alpinist are (in no specific order):

-I can always find talented and inspiring people to climb with on world class objectives

-There is so much variety in the mountain sports I'm most interested in: sport, trad, ice and alpine climbing + unbelievable deep powder skiing on piste, off piste, ski mountaineering...  All in a relatively small area
-The development of the sport climbing scene in the Bow Valley is going off and provides the perfect training grounds to get strong, have fun, and prepare for harder objectives in mountains
-There is an abundance of multi-pitch adventure routes of all levels, in all disciplines of climbing
-The Rockies provide the world's most consistent, extensive, easily accessible ice and mixed scene - bar none!  
- First ascents -- Although the most obvious lines have mostly been done, some only once, there are still a lifetime's worth of first ascents to do, very much the opposite of Europe or the U.S.A..  I can share that because oddly enough, a little friendly international competition to get to them first would make them even more exciting!

-Getting to the incredible stone and scenery of Baffin Island only requires a handful of airports, no passport, and one day of travel

Here's a few pics from some of the climbing highlights from the last two months, starting with the Bugaboos:

Josh on the crux splitter of Hell or Highwater, Snowpatch Spire


Chris and Simon working on yet another sick new project


Josh leading the first pitch of Chris' other freshly completed new line: The East Columbia Indirect (mid 5.12), located just right of Hobo's Haven on the east end of the East face of Snowpatch.  Easily the highest quality route I've done in a long time!

Me leading the overhanging thin hands to fingers second pitch - photo: Joshua Lavigne 


Josh leading the third pitch


Looking down at Simon and Chris climbing the route behind us.  Simon is seen here leading the second pitch.


And looking down at Chris on the third pitch.

Here's a line of the East Columbia Indirect as seen from the Crecent Glacier.  The fourth pitch finishes up the last pitch of the Power of Lard.  Although 4 pitches is a short route by Bugaboo standards, I'm not sure of another route that has four pitches of this quality, sustained at 5.11+ with a few 5.12 cruxes.  Soooo good!  Start directly or scramble around via the the start of Sunshine Crack.


The Applebee gang


Lydia leading Sheldon's Corner, Easpost Spire


Josh on a new route .12b on Eastpost Spire


And then there's the Rockies. 

Magda enjoying a really fun and new 12-pitch, 5.12- route on Ha Ling Peak above Canmore, called a Particular Manner of Expression.  Cudos to Jeph Relph and a variety of partners for putting this one up.


Colin Haley on the Greenwood / Jones route on the North Face of Mt. Temple.

This classic really exceded my expectations and I'd highly recomend it.  Better than the other routes I've climbed on Temples nordwand. Colin pulling a small overhang near the top of the rock.

Colin on the walking the line to the summit

A raven joined us on top.  Here he's sitting right at the very peak, just a little bit higher than we made it! 


On thanksgiving weekend, October 6-8, Raphael Slawinski and I climbed this line on Howse Peak - a combo of the NE buttress and some mixed variations  It wasn't the line we set out to do but as the Stones said "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime you just might find, you get what you need".  We got what we needed, a great adventure up an iconic peak!

Raphael looking for the way about a third of the way up

Our first bivi about halfway up

The first pitch of day two was more sideways than up, as we deked out of the mixed gully system and back onto the ridge. 


Good rock climbing on the buttress

Raph following a little traverse between gully systems

Back into more mixed gully action, Chephren Lake below

Raphael sorting out the rope cluster in the sun

Fun couloir climbing in the M-16 gully

Still a bit of a cornice left from the revious winter.  Fortunately it was easily passed

Raph taking in the view from the summit!   

Our second bivi sight.  After descending 1000m of the summit of Howse on our second day, it got dark as we arrived here.  The following morning, we ascended 600m to the misty Epaulette / White Pyramid col above the tent, and then descended down to the river Icefield Parkway beyond.  About 5.5 hours from the bivi to the road.  All said and done, it was a very satisfying and rewarding adventure!


The following weekend, I couldn't help myself but go back to sport climbing. 

Alpine climbing means a lot ot me, but it's pretty hard to beat the overhanging streaky rock at our local crags such as Bataan seen here.  It's just so much fun I don't think I'll ever be full.  Jen onsighting a .12a in the upper photo and Jonny cranking below on a chilly mid october day.