It's been a busy summer as always and I'm getting behind on updating this blog. About six weeks ago, the video Spirits of Asgard was released, and has been very well received. It's been posted to Outside Television, as well as received a Vimeo Staff pick, so it's recieved a lot of views, which is pretty cool! A huge congratulations to Joshua Lavigne for producing it. Check his website for more photos of the trip as well as the July / August 2013 issue of Gripped which features some pics and a 2500 word story I wrote about it. Josh's words and images are also shared in the 2013 Canadian Alpine Journal. Although the video covers the "darker" aspects of our trip, such as a couple of close calls we had, it was very a fun and successful trip. Some photos and stories have been shared here on a blog post from last August, but I thought I'd take a few a minutes to share a few more images as I link the the video here, as an attempt to share a greater visual tour of the amazing landscape Baffin has to offer.
The north side of Mt. Asgard and the reason for going here.
Ines and Josh enjoying perfect weather and spectacular views on the 60km approach.
One of the many stream crossings
Sunrise at Summit Lake
We were always hungry!
A cariboo skull and atlers on the Turner Glacier, and the first views of the 1200m high North Face of Mt. Asgard
Getting up the Turner Gl. required a lot of stream hopping, which sometimes required following them for a long ways before finding the easiest spot to jump.
Base camp on the turner. Asgard peaking through the clouds.
Our kitchen and living room for about a week
Ines getting started up the incredible south Buttress of Mt. Loki
Smiles on the summit of Loki
Getting high on Asgard. Mt. Loki is the highest rock peak accross the glacier and our base camp is on the strip of rock, directly below its summit. Photo by Joshua Lavigne
Josh and Ines folllow yet another pitch of perfect splitters
Josh getting western, a couple ofpitches below the summit
Ines at base camp below Asgard.
Rock climbing in the Bow Valley has been so much fun lately, and although I've been mostly seasoning single pitch sport climbs at Bataan and Lake Louise, I've been really stoked on a couple of multi-pitch lines I've recently done.
Super Mega-Fauna (named after an encounter with a bear on the trail) was put up a few years back by the late, great Dave Thompson. Dave was one of the legendary route setters of the BV and this route is a prime example of his amazing drive. Sustained, technical, well bolted, and perched just above tree line ousted of Banff, it's a perfect route for summer. 8 pitches up the NE face of Mt. Edith and it definitely gets my recommendation.
Michelle Kadatz on Super Mega-Fauna
The NE face of Mt. Edith. SMF goes right up the middle of it.
Michelle halfway up the route
Another awesome line I climbed by another of the BV's best route setters is Silent Auction. Greg Tos opened this one up just a few months ago, and with five pitches of 5.12-, three of 5.11 and one of 5.10, this has to be one of the most sustained at its grade in the area. Highly recommended! Although it was sunny the day we climbed, there had been quite a bit of rain the week before, and we found the crux holds on the second and fourth pitches to be a little damp. Unfortunately the damp holds prevented us from getting the on-sight, on those pitches, but otherwise, we both managed to on-sight the rest of the route. There is so much good looking stone in this giant grotto on Grotto mountain just outside of Canmore, that I can only imagine this is perhaps the start of a stellar future climbing zone!
Samuel lambert on the 3rd pitch
Sam following the 4th pitch
Looking accross and all the unclimbed rock!
Sam following the wildly overhanging 6th pitch
Nice water streaks on the 7th pitch
Sam locking into a knee bar on the 9th pitch, and getting the first bit of sun of the day at around 3:30 in the afternoon. Climbing the whole route in the shade on a warm day made for perfect conditions. We both climbed every pitch pitch in a t-shirt, and hauled a light bag with a light puffy jacket each for the belays.
As I write this, I'm only a few hours away from my second trip into the Bugaboos this summer. So Stoked!!! The first trip was amazing with adventures on the Minaret Tower and amongst the Pigeon Feathers, and no doubt the second one will be super fun too. I'll post some pics when I'm back in August...
Colin Haley climbing the West face of Mt. Lefroy, with views into the Lake O'hara basin and beyond
Often in May, I focus a lot of my playtime on skiing some of the bigger alpine lines the Rockies has to offer. The inspiration I find in this range seems to be unlimited, and having my psyched friends Colin Haley and Ptor Spricenieks around increased the stoke even more.
Conditions this year were tricky though. A drought with summer-like temps at the beginning of May, followed by mixed weather with very little precip or good overnight freezes was the grim reality we had to work with. This combo made it tricky to get as much done as we hoped, but we still managed. I've generally been patient, and skied a lot of steep lines in powdery conditions. But the reality is, that often when snow sticks to icy north faces, the sun quickly changes the surface of it to something else. With snowpack and surface conditions going through constant change, the temperatures need to be carefully monitored. Timing needs to be calculated for both safety, success, and for maximum pleasure. Getting the goods in prime conditions requires some luck perhaps, but definitely a lot of forethought. The snow finally came near the end of the month, and on the 26th of May, we got lucky and skied Mt. Temple from it's summit it amazing conditions.
So here are some photos, from various roadside adventures May adventures. Hopefully the captions tell enough of the story.
Also worth checking out are two links to G3's blog, from some crucial late April shredding. They are the stories and photos from very memorable days I had on Mt. Burgess and Mt. Stanley. I believe the NW couloir on Mt. Burgess was probably a first descent, and hopefully a video from that day will be linked here soon. The day on Stanley was super memorable for the fantastic conditions and ultra-classics I finally got around to"ticking".
On the West summit of Lefroy. The main summit, about two meters higher is about 50 meters behind us, and garded by some ripe cornices we weren't interested in climbing accross.
Colin shredding chunky corn on the West Face of Mt. Lefroy, with the classic East face of Victoria in the background
JW, climbing the East face of Mt. Victoria, but un-inspiring snow conditions and warm temps had us turning around about 500 meters below the summit. Photo:Colin Haley
A couple hours later, we had recovered a stashed pack of rock climbing gear and were enjoying perfect climbing conditions at the Back of the Lake. Two feet of snow on the ground and shirts-off conditions all day, even while belaying! We managed 6 pitches of rock and over 4000' of skiing. Multi-sport at it's finest! Colin, warming up on Wicked Gravity
Next up was the Silverhorn, the peak to the right of Athabasca, and the ski line is the sun shadow line right of center. Unfortunately a wind slab turned us around about half way up, but better safe than sorry. At least it still yielded some good turns.
Ptor brewing coffee at a campground in the wee hours before the attempt
Colin and Ptor touring up the glacier
Ptor in his element. Always fun to ski around so much blue ice, especially in sweet powder!
Colin getting a bit of a face shot. Not bad, considering there had been virtually no new snow in a couple of weeks.
JW catching up, after finally puttng the camera away. Great turns all the way to the parking. A super fun day.
Ptor crossing the barely frozen Constellation Lakes. Unfortunately the day didn't produce anything worth writing about as far as ski lines go, but it was cool to check out a new valley.
The columbia icefields seemed like the best option considering the short weather forecasts and Colin and Ptor were psyched for Mt. Andromeda's Skyladde, the sunlit ramp right of center. It's one of the most classic steep lines in the Rockies, and was fun to revisit it, as it had been 14 or 15 years since I had first skied it.
Another early start
Climbing through the first ice step
Nearing the summit ridge and getting good views of the Columbia Icefields. A sweet crotch grab / hang loose by a stoked Colin!
Fine positions on the summit ridge
JW on the summit scoping the warm-up corn run into the south bowl.
Ptor on run #1, Andromeda's south bowl. We then toured back to the summit and dropped into the Skyladder.
Ptor in the Skyladder
JW in the upper part of the Skyladder
JW exiting the skyladder, photo Colin Haley
A view of Mt. Temple from the 3.5 couloir, (photo taken several years ago). Our next objective was it's SW face which is the shaded one, that drops left off the summit. And with 50+ cms of new snow, it was a memorable run!
With good snow coverage, we were able to skin all the way to the summit!
Almost there. The weather was just good enough, although a whiteout on the summit made getting finding the entrance to the line a little bit interesting
Oh Yeah! Finally getting a burst of sunlight and the views confirming we were in the right spot
Ptor, in the upper part of a long run. down Temples SW face.
I was stoked to be skiing on my Empires for this run, especially as the snow got heavier near the bottom
Colin, cruising down Temple
Ptor sending the snow flying on Temple