Monday, September 24, 2007
- Best coffee place around Vancouver - Gallilleo, just before Squamish, very good crumbles too! Best dinner place in Squamish - the Watershed Grill, good Thai salad.
- Best coffee around the Rockies - Lake Louise's Trailhead Caffee, with the best breakfast bagel i've tried on this trip - home-made omlette with vegetables and all, mmm, too good!
- My self-made favorite camping breakfast in Canada - cereals + oats (variety mix) with blueberries and maple syrop.
- Record partner non-show-up on this trip a) Kyle b) Jesse c) Adrienne who managed to not show up at the gym! All three without any warning before/after. People, you should learn some manners...
- Useful Canadian websites:
Weather - http://www.meteo.gc.ca/canada_f.html
Squamish partners forum - http://www.squamishclimbing.com/
Canmore/Canada partners forum - http://www.live-the-vision.com/
More partners forums - http://www.gripped.com/
Topos Rockies - http://www.tabvar.org/
Personal appreciation - http://www.matthewbuckle.net/
Conditions from the Guides - http://www.acmg.ca/mcr/
Alpine Club, huts - http://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/
Avalanche Conditions - http://www.avalanche.ca/
- Thank you to everyone who has been nice to me (apparently a Canadian quality, based on Fergusen's book "Why I hate Canadians", interesting book btw), has shared a rope or offered beta or a couch to sleep on - i.e. Mica, Scotty, Brian, David & Emily.
- A random story I heard from the Islanders - during the 19th century, when trying to connect Europe to the US, after several months of prepation and setting up the cable through the Atlantic Ocean, just before reaching NYC, the cable setters...dropped the cable!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
The first present is my stay at Canmore Clubhouse, Canadian's Alpine Club creation, and very very comfy place - especially after the night before spent at the Van airport chairs. I somehow get the privillege to sample the newly-built Bowsen cabin, and this is the view on the Three Sisters from the porch -
The next day the real exploring starts with the touristy drive up the Icefields parkway. Only a few kilometers after the park gate and the fee for it, this is the view i get - and enough to make me forget the fee.
As a sidenote, it is very funny to travel along these tourist routes in the Rockies - or should i say route, as there are not that many of them! Usually you see a couple of times during the day a stampede of people on one or the other side of the road, with cars parked and cameras out. That means either a view, or a wild animal. And it is usually worth getting out of your car for it, whatever aversion you might have for chinese or japanese camera clicks!
Next is a shot of another Zen lake out there, the Peyoto lake, shaped as a Wolf's head, and as blue and transparent as they get in the rockies. The recent snow adds its charm, and postcard shots are rather easy to come by.
After a long drive to Jasper, i treat myself to first, the Maligne lake, that prooves to be very maligne, and shovels snow and rain on me - and next, the Miette hot springs, and this view on the drive back. It is not the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, but close!!!
I discover a very welcome hostel near Mt Edith Cavell. I did think about climbing the East ridge, but it looked rather long and snowy up there, so I, as usual, chicken out, sleep at the hostel and than drive back into winter.
This is a shot from Vancouver's copy of New York - not bad, and not far from the East side, an interesting hike to say the least.
And this Victoria, jewel of the Vancouver island, and the oldest city in Canada, from what the guidebook pretends. The port is not only home to boats, but also to water plains, that spit out business people into the dock and are very photogenic animals as a free by-product.
The promenade along the harbour is, like Canadians around here love to say, 'wicked' and offers several photo opps. MMM, becoming a full-time traveller and photographer doesn't sound like such a bad idea at times.
On my quick tour of the island i had to go back just after one day and only one stop at French beach (and no whales). These are the last shots of a less touristy port of Nanaimo, from where the Ferry leaves to Horseshoe bay. The ferry rides, by the way, are very pictoresque and make up for all the cruises i have not taken. Although not passionate about the sea, i can understand how one could be, especially when living around Vancouver.
After getting up Rock On clean and boosting my confidence a little, I had to try the Split Pillar, the famous 10b pitch on the Grand Wall. Getting there is rather exciting too, with a nicely run-out Mercy Me (as i did not dare go up Cruel Shoes - excuse there being my new Miuras hurting like hell) and a strenuous traverse to get the spirits up afterwards. The Pillar is wonderful though - especially if you handjam it. I'm sure i could have gotten that one if i had an extra big blue cam - but i did not and rested at the crux. Oh well, it is still an excellent pitch and it makes me proud to have led it. We rapped after the Sword pitch as the sun was going down and my partner was feeling weak. As i was doing all of the leading that day, I didn't mind much - although finishing the Grand would have been sweet. Bring 2 ropes for the rap though!!!
Here is another stellar crack - one of the most chalked and famous ones too. It is at the base of the Grand wall, easy access, and lots of traffic. Called Exasperator for a reason, it is a 2-pitch wonder. I dared lead only the first pitch, where already i had to backtrack and shovel with cams. Having only C3 2 and 0 and one or two TCUs, i chickened from the second pitch, but that's the way life goes...Me in full action:
Best part of that day - top roping Clean Crack, this is my partner on this exciting line, an 11b finger jam, totally worth it. Lower Malarmute all to ourselves, we had lots of fun exploring there - the layback climb to the right of Clean, and another jewel - Hand Jive, which i mercelessly handdogged to the top. Wow, that one hurts!!! It's been a while since my feet in the crack made me cry - this was the one. A definite must for cragging at Squamish, a beautiful view on the bay - and fearsome logging debris and train rails in the proximity. The best of both worlds.
Not to forget - Olympics are going to take place in Whistler in 2010, that's what is pushing the economy in the area up, and the road construction. Squamish is as busy as ever, and the blasting (at night) around the road construction sites makes the campground one of the worst i've stayed in so far (with the one in Red Rocks still being on the top of the list!).
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The Art Gallery has a much more commercial approach, with the most crowded place being its art shop, filled with discounts on all impressionist goodies during these last days of Monet to Dali expo. The expo itself is not that interesting, paintings come from Cleveland, and apart from Morisot portrait by Manet, I can't remember anything else from it already.
The surprise comes from the second and third floor, with the Huang Yong Ping retrospective and some funny design works from Andrea Zittel - i.e. her Deserted Island project (more detail here).
Shame on me, but i have never before heard of Huang, a Chinese artist specialized in political sculpture with a message and good sence of humour. My favorites of his was the Vespucci bulldog and the 'Nationals' and 'Others' sculpture. His work is very interesting - his latest 'coup' was installing this stand with voracious insects and reptiles inside the Vancouver Art Gallery, that got an upheaval from the whole animals defence community and a final ban from a judge that ordered to remoove the poor animals hurting the sensibilities of unprepared visitors. Now the exhibit stands empty (although the zoos stand full), proof to the free speach dillemma.
Friday, September 14, 2007
First day in Squamish and we get to the top of the Chief by a beautiful combination of routes - Snake to start, Memorial Crack (omnipresent Beckey creation) - awesome offwidth on perfect granite :
and than the Ultimate Everything to make it a fun 5.9 18 pitches day. Here is me contemplating the last 2 pitches.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Both, sport and trad, mainly 1-pitch long, this is a very worth-while cragging area between the Rockies and the coast. Off for granite and Squamish now!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Anyway, these are the conditions we encountered - first snow for me, a beautiful morning!
And this is the mountain. Unfortunately i-cafe doesn't allow me to turn pictures, so let your imagination work! (EDITED - problem corrected :)
We did the Gmoser route up, a long long route with a crux at 5.8 and the Perrain variation on the top. Routefinding on loose limestone sucked though, even to find the start of the route we spent 1h... Summit reached, but not too many good impressions from the route. This mountain needs more modern developments, i.e. on the diamond-shaped face...
Here's the last picture from the descent - the most interesting part of the route. Big walls around there, awaiting someone with a drill and an imagination streak. Cold though!!!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Oh, and not that recommended - we spent the whole day yesterday trying to locate Bastille, a supposedly new nice 8-pitch climb on Tunnel Mountain in the backwaters of Banff. We finally finished the day cragging instead and still have no idea where that climb is. That much for the Sport climbing in Bow Valley topo and the Tabvar printouts. For all route setters - please please, try to make sense for other people than yourselves when creating those topos... Alpine climbing by Dougherty is not much better - not only it lacks any approach maps, it doesn't even state times for hut approaches (i.e. Castle mountain...)
Thursday, September 06, 2007
After Lake Louise quartzite cragging, we moved to a bigger objective, still quartzite - very interesting and beautifully colored rock. Only 4 pitches, Grand Sentinel stands out like the desert towers in Utah, guarding the Sentinel pass between Mount Temple (a formidable alpine piece from the N side) and Pinnacle Mountain.
The 2.5 hour approach limits crowds. Another Canadian thing - you are required to hike in 4s !!! if not you get fined, all because of the browny creatures - BEARS. Everyone here hikes with a 'bear spray', Canadian version of the thief gas that works as well on humans as on bears...
There are two lines to get to the summit, a trad 5.8 and a sport 10d. We started on the sport line, planning to do the trad line afterwards. But with only 4 pitches the Sentinel got the best out of us and the good intentions for the trad line stayed that, intentions. We watched two girls from the coast do both climbs though - kudos to the strong!
The Cardiac arête is deservedly named, and definitely a climb worth the hike-in. Sustained, crazy exposure from the first pitch on, mind-boggling 2nd pitch. The top is the biggest surprise - it's just big enough for two, and feels like it's all going to fall off in a matter of minutes - a big rock pile on top of a 100m spire. FUN!!!
Here is Micah following the second pitch with Sentinel’s shadow on the left, and afterwards me on the top of the rock pile - and the top of the world, as far as we were concerned that day.
And this is the wonderful wonderful view of the Moraine lake, part of the approach pleasures.