Friday, December 21, 2007


After 4 days of snowfall here in the Burns we finally have the promised and desperatly needed high pressure to get out to the Selkirks. Besides skiing some epic runs, we established two fuel/rescue caches in the Duncan Valley and gathered a lot of useful information of the snowpack in our remote areas. We also flagged close to 100 runs and celebrated a good days work with free booze and so on!

Monday, December 17, 2007

deep, down and dirty!

I can definately say that I've had worse runs for the first run of the season. The first afternoon of "Set up" at the Bobbie Burns rewarded Jeff and myself with an epic run down Estancia in the Crystalline drainage. It can only go downhill from here!

Friday, December 7, 2007

cold week with the kids

Kimbi had to go on her first aid refresher, so I had the kids for the first time for the hole week. Since it was bitter cold, we did not get out much at all. A couple of hours each day was enough for me and them. At least we got some snow too, which turned the landscape around Canmore in a bit of a winter wonder land. I quite enjoyed the last few days with the little ones (not sure if they did too!), it gave me a chance to get to know them a bit better.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bourgeau left

After being beat early morning yesterday by another party, I was beat again by a party today, who was there later than expected. I was hoping that nobody would be in the lower part anymore at 1 p.m., but those guys where still dicking around on the first pitch. Since I was way too keen today to touch some ice, I took my chances anyways. I had to take a little risk on the first pitch, where I decided to follow the second guy of the party on his heels, just to take the least possible chance to get hit by ice. It's a fine line of beeing very close behind him to minimize the impact of his dislodged icechunks-which by the way turned out to be huge-and being too close and ripped off the ice in case the shaky climber falls. Just before he arrived on the first anchor, I passed them, and by the time they finished reracking, I was already at the midway ledge. Now I did not have to worry about hitting them with ice anymore. They were really nice guys by the way and also from Canmore. I had myself a blast on the route and I'm slowly gaining confidence during soloing. This was the second time already I soloed this climb, it's a proud line and I can do it easily in 4h roundtrip from my doorsteps.The picture above was taken a couple of days ago from a beautiful "full moon sunset" on Lady Mac.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Uniform Queen

After 5 days of sitting still at my First Aid refresher it was time to push my pulse above 60 again. Thankfully I got a hold of Marc Hammer, who was keen to join me for an adventure up on the Stanley Headwall. During soloing Nemesis last Sunday, I saw a lot of potential for some new lines, and more importantly, it appeared that the very rare Uniform Queen was formed. As we pulled into the parking lot in the morning, Raphael and Eamonn beat us by minutes with the same goal in mind. Although a bit disappointed, we decided to walk up anyways, and maybe try one of the other potential new routes close by. After a bit of a confusion at the base, the two Canadiens could not resist trying this new line between Suffer Machine and Uniform Queen, therefore in a sudden the Queen was ours. Since Hammer has not had a chance to touch any ice yet this season, he offered me to lead all the pitches, which was a nice tread for me. Since I was only out once before and not quite broken in yet,I had quite a challenge on the first 3 pitches. They were all quite serious and runout, specially the 2nd pitch, with only one piece of protection in 40m. The 4th pitch was an almost vertical candle with good ice and awesome positions. Overall, a challenging climb in a wild place, which had to be celebrated with way too many beers in the Drake.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Finally I got out today, just in time before I have to sit for 5 days at my First Aid refreshing course. Since the weather sucked lately (at least for ice climbing) I did not make any plans with anybody, so I found myself driving alone towards Banff. The weather was nice and we had a cold night, so I was hoping to get a chance to climb a long time goal of mine. After climbing Nemesis at least 6 times already (honestly I lost count) and guiding the climb twice, I declared it as my favorite ice route. Now it was time to solo it, and I wanted to do it early in the season, to get virgin ice if possible. Well, everything worked out fine, I was the first one on the route this year, and it turned out to be the big challenge I was looking for. Now I can endure the next 5 days a little easier.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Lady Mac

I know, I should be ice climbing by now, but I just don't feel like it. It's way too warm here (+11C at noon) and I strangely don't mind. I'm sure there is some ice to have with some driving and hiking. I only have a few days before my time is up and I don't have the big motivation to get in shape for something, I don't have time doing in the next 2 months anyways. So I spent the day with the family and later in the afternoon I took a hike up to Lady Mc Donald. On the way up I realized, that I have not been on the summit of my "hausberg" in many years, which is odd, considering I can leave my house without driving and make the top of this land mark mountain in under 2 hours. Half way down I got beat by the early darkness, thankfully the lights of Canmore brightened the path.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

last day/last smoke?

Yesterday I finished my fall work at the lodge with a bonfire. Not because Matt and I are so romantic, more so because we had to get rid of some "burnable shit". After all we had a good off-season and a lot of fun, so let's hope the winter is arriving soon up there, the snowline in the Vowell is at a scary 2000m still. I also smoked my "last" cigarette tonight, see how long it last's this time!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

First Ice!

I postponed my trip to the lodge for one day in order to get a chance to touch some ice with Marc P. Our initial plan was to climb a fairly easy route up high in the Stanley Valley, just the right thing to do when you have not touched ice in a long time. Just before the parking lot of Stanley we spotted a line of ice on the Storm creek headwall. We took or chances and went for the 2.5 hour approach, which was covered in 5cm of new snow, and in places not a lot of fun. Unfortunatly the ice was thinner than expected, specially in the lower part of the 2 parallel lines we had spotted. We gave the right hand line a shot (picture), but I had to retread from this great line way too early, due to the lack of protection and self confidence. Hopefully we have a chance in the future to give it a try in fatter conditions (or bigger balls).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Columbia Valley ...and beyond

What a wonderful drive home from the lodge. After a good hour on the 52km logging road you have to cross the Columbia Wetlands, which are not so wet anymore in the fall. Everytime I go to and fro the Bobbie Burns for work, which is actually about 30 times a year and about 15000km, I get a chance to drive through this beautyful landscape. I think one day I might get off road due to the amazing visual distractions!

A couple of hours later I witnessed the full moon rising above Banff on Mt. Girouard. I was always surprised how such a big and dominant peak, perfectly in your face on the highway east bound and right out of town, is soo little known. I bet you if you ask ten random people on Banff Main Street, one might know. The peak is with it's 2963m also the second highest peak visible from Banff! And now, who knows the highest?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


As noted in my last post, I thought the rock climbing is over for me this year. Today I got another chance to go out though, and with Marc Hammer we settled for a last (again!) multi pitch on Yam. The forecast was for sunny all day and +18, but in the parking lot it was really windy and overcast though. With little hope we hiked upwards, no real goal in mind, the wind at least eased off a little by the time we reached the base of the cliff. Now our mind was set on "Unforgiven", a new route from Andy G., which is supposed to be very worthwile. I really liked the route, consistend climbing in the low 11s and quite steep for Yam. Excellent rock from the first to the last pitch. Although I have outmost respect from the first ascentionists, I was a little disappointed in the style the route was outfitted. The route info on Tabvar from Andy suggests a "light" full rack of cams to 3.5 and a set of microcams and a med. set of wires. We thought this was way too much gear, all you really need is a set of wiers and a few cams. There were a lot of bolts placed right beside perfect gear placements, and some in fairly easy terrain. I would assume that if you can climb 5.11, then you should be quite comfy 2 meters above a bolt in 5.8 terrain.
But again, this should not come across as a negative comment, we had a great day on "Unforgiven" and thanks for all the effort those guys put into multi pitch sport climbing every year, so us lazy bastards can enjoy a challenging, but safe day out in the mountains.
and it's almost a full moon outside!

Monday, October 15, 2007

finally back in the Ghost

Today I had a chance to go climbing to the South Ghost with Marc P. It was the first time in the summer in oneandahalf years for me, that time I had a good day in the North Ghost with Jay on a route called "good night New Orleans". This time we settled for the "old" classic "Dreams of Verdon"on the massive Wild West Wall, a seven pitch bolted line rated 11+. Maybe we were out of shape, or it's just not our style of climbing, but we both found the rating a bit stiff. Nevertheless we had a super day, not a cloud in the sky, no other soul in the Valley (which was surprising since it's Turkeyweekend!), and back for dinner with the kids. Maybe the last day for touching rock this year for me, I got to go to the Lodge again tomorrow, and the temps are supposed to drop, like they usually do at this time of the year.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

fall at the Bobbie Burns

I love this time of the year, the colours are changing and the hectic of the summer season is history. It snowed here yesterday, but this morning the snow line is already up at 1700m. Let's get the Lodge ready for the ski season, there is still a lot to do!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

drilled pockets at Bataan!

Yesterday I finally had a chance to climb "Jacob's Ladder" at Bataan, after it was seeping since May. It was rumored to be a good route and rated 13a this spring (first asc. J.D. Le Blanc rated the route 13c!). My friend Paul and I where able to climb it 2nd go and confirmed the grade. Now here comes the catch! We both noticed 2 obvious drilled key pockets around the second and third bolt, which have not been mentioned by J.D. or any of the handful of climbers who did the climb this spring. In "Sportclimbs in the Canadian Rockies", routes with chipped or drilled holds don't recieve a star rating, Jakob's gets 2 stars though. What's that all about? I'm not so much obset about the pockets, more so about the "route builder", who did not have the guts to report it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Austrian Visit

Paul and Ossi came to Canada for a 3 week stay, to check out the climbing around Canmore. The guys are mainly craggers, but like to toss it up with some multi pitching too. Unfortunatly the weather was not always very cooperative (read f... cold), but we managed to get out quite a bit without losing any limbs. Multi pitching was kept to a minimum so far, insteaed we are hitting the crags close to town. The picture above is taken on one of the routes in the upper Colliseum, which we visited 3 times the last 2 weeks. In between we managed to get to climb some routes in Planet X, Acephale, Grasi, Grotto Canyon and Back of the Lake. They will be here for another week, so we see what the weather does. The forecast is crap, but hopefully I have a chance to show them Bataan before they leave! So far they seem to be pretty psyched in the climbing Canmore has to offer. That's pretty cool for guys, who are used to climb cliffs like Ceuse and everything in Italy. The picture below shows Paul on his favorite route "Naiccance de la femme" 13b at the lower wall of Acephale.