Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kurt is gone

Kurt Albert, the "Albert Einstein" of free climbing, died today after a 18m fall on a minor "Klettersteig" in Germany during guiding work. With Kurt we lost one of the most important and influential climbers in history. In the late 60ties at the age of 17 he climbed already the hardest routes in the Alps, including the Walker Spur on the Jorasses, and with 18 the Eiger North Face, years before Messner did it. Besides all his live time achievements in the forefront of hard Alpinism over 30 years, he is probably best known for his invention of the Red point rules in 1975. you wonder why his nickname was Einstein
Kurt on "Fight Gravity", a 5.12 free solo in the mid eighties, when most people did not even know of the existence of hard routes like that.
Kurt was always involved in the evolution of climbing. He started with the age of 14 with hard Aid, then painted red points at the bottom of old established Aid routes as a sign that they have been free climbed. He was a top boulderer in the late 70ties, when the world boulder did not even exist in Europe. He made countless rock climbing trips around the world, climbed the first 12+ on the big dolomite faces in the eighties, made ground breaking first ascents all over the world, like Royal Flush on Fitz Roy, Raiders of Storm in the Paine and Eternal Flame on Trango, to just name a few.
When I heard the sad message from Scott's cell phone at the Lookout, I was just heading up for another try on the hardest sport climb so far for me in Canada. I told myself that this attempt I dedicate to Kurt's spirit, so I gave it all, like Kurt would have done, and surprisingly succeeded. Kurt, you where the man I was looking up to when I started climbing as a teenager in the mid eighties, and I thank you for that. The worlds climbing community lost one of it's best.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

rainbow without rain

I know it's getting old, those sunrise shots, but I just love this time of the year. It's not like summer where one has to get up at 4 in the morning to catch the magic light. Now you can crawl out of bed at 7:30, make yourself a coffee, take a few shots and get lucky with a rainbow framing it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Done Deal

Shortly after this gorgeous sunrise we headed up to Yam again. Derek was offering me a belay on Yamabushi and I could not refuse. The weather was chinooky as you can see on the pictures. We had it all, heat, strong winds and a little rain. I still don't know why it went so well today, but maybe it was the pressure of being my first and last chance this year to red point the route. And so I did, leading every pitch first go, like Derek 4 days ago. A big thanks to Will and all his partners for putting up such an outstanding climb, I know it's a lot of work and hope that it will get climbed way more often in the future. The line deserves so much more traffic with the way it's set up as a multi pitch sport route, fully bolted. And also a big thanks to Derek for beeing my belay slave, I totally appreciate this.
Here are my suggestions for the grade, a little different than Will, but he also mentioned that he had a hard time with the grading after having spend so much time on the wall. P1/5.10+, P2/5.12+, P3/5.11+, P4/5.12-, P5/5.12-, P6/5.12, P7/5.12, P8/5.11+. Although the grading is not super hard, it is still demanding until 5 meters below the rim. Despite the overhanging nature of the route, the climbing is very varied and most of the cruxes are actually quite technical. We used 13 draws (some back cleaning), a 60m lead line and a 50m twin rope to haul the little bag and to rappel "Lord of the rings" afterwards. On P2 we left 3 hard to clip draws in place to make it easier for repeat attempts, please leave them there, it's for a good cause.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

a little weather hint

This early morning view of Mt. Lougheed never fails. When you see this cloud cap over the highest peak in the viewing range of Canmore, be sure to bring an extra layer and at least a wind jacket. Even if the forecast calls for sun all day, be sure she's gone by latest noon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

50 days

Time runs by, even when the weather is bad. It's been 50 days since the last time Derek and I have been up on Yamabushi. Nevertheless, Derek managed to red point the rig, leading every single pitch. This was probably the second red point after Will Gadd did the first ascent in 2006. A very impressive effort on Derek's part, since he did not know the route very well and he had to clip all the draws on lead, where Will had it rigged top to bottom. Derek also had to deal with damp holds in the crux section of pitch 2, had to haul a bag almost every pitch and had to belay me following the route, where Will had someone jugging. Don't take me wrong, I don't want to downgrade Wills achievement, I think it was an astounding effort on Wills part. Not only he put multiple days in to actually establish one of the finest sport routes on Yamnuska, he also had the vision of freeing it in one single push very late that year with lot's of time pressure before the winter arrived. I've personally never been a big fan of rope bags on alpine rock routes, but I must say it came in handy today. The flap provided the only place where we could flake our two ropes and were able to change into rock shoes without soaking them.
After weeks of bad weather we had some wintery conditions to deal with. Lot's of snow on the approach and on the few ledges on the route. Like the last time, we opted to rappel the nearby "Lord of the Rings", which paid of big time and saved us from hiking down in the snow on the back side.
Above you can see Derek leading out of the morning mist into the roofs of pitch 2.
From the belay ledge after pitch 3 you climb 3 pitches in a row through the upper roofs. 12a/b/12b/12c and after that (picture below) a 35m vertical crimp and search fest which is hard to rate and to memorize, feels like another 12c. This second last pitch has probably some of the finest rock Yumnaska has to offer, and the exposure is unbeatable. It is mid afternoon by now and all the snow below on the approach slopes from this morning has melted of already.The view from the parking lot in the morning versus the evening, it's amazing how much a nice day of sun can do to the snow.
Now it's time for me to put in my first red point attempt, I'm looking forward to the challenge and hope I don't have to wait another 50 days for it. My time is running out soon, got to go back to work in October. If anyone is keen to go up there with me, please let me know, you will not regret it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

One day weather window

Despite the long stretch of rain, snow and cold temperatures the hard core of climbers here in Canmore still manage to squeeze the odd day of climbing in. Yesterday 8 of us climbed at the Lookout again and took advantage of a short weather window. -5 degrees celsius in the morning with a centimeter of ice/rime and snow did not seem to inviting, but once we reached the Lookout the sun came out and we had a pleasant day with T-shirts and perfect climbing conditions. That makes the Lookout so special, even after 3 days of rain and snow in a row the cliff stays dry with a few exceptions and catches the sun from 9 a.m onwards. The pictures below are from the clearing in the evening the night before. Soo good to see blue sky again, but it's pissing and 4 degrees as I write this.

Friday, September 17, 2010

September rain and new route

This is definitely the worst September I ever experienced in the Bow Valley. It just keeps on raining and snowing with now high pressure system in sight. After a mediocre spring and a even worse summer everyone thought we deserve a nice September, but it ain't gonna happen. Considering the bad conditions I actually did pretty well so far this month. I got the majority of my home reno's done, climbed "Diamonds on the inside" and "Fresh Prince", and even drilled a new line up at the Lookout. After spending 4 brutal cleaning sessions 3 hours each on it, I thought it was time to give it a lead burn. To my surprise I was able to red point it first go and I think it is one of the best lines in this grade at the Lookout (I might be a bit biased with my opinion though). Sure, it's still a bit dirty and some of the holds or footsteps out of cleaning range might break, but it will clean up nicely with more traffic. 36m long, 16 bolts, power endurance climbing on mainly good holds, and feels like a 7c (+/-) to me. I named the route "burn to shine" after a (not so much known) Ben Harper song, to stick with the Greg Toss theme of nearby routes and to honor this great artist.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A weekend with Roko

Our family finally made it out to Wilmer for a long weekend visit with Roko, Adrienne and Jakob. Roko owns quite a few acres on top of a hill between Wilmer and Panorama, with great 360 degree views of the Columbia Valley, the Purcells, and the Rockies. This is Roko's house above Wilmer, it used to be the old Bugaboo Lodge staff house. If it would not be for Roko, it would have gone into the dump.
A cozy place to hang out, the kids fell in love with Jakob's Lego.
driving a Bobcat as a 6 year old must be quite exciting, below he is in with Jakob, Roko's 13 year old son. Jakob was awesome with the kids and spend a lot of time playing with them.
Roko giving driving lessons on the quat, after a short while Luka figured it out.

A sweet southfacing deck, probably bigger than most condo's in Canmore.
A need collection of antic machinery, these are just a few of my favorite samples. If they ever run again, you would have to cut down some trees in order to get them out. This should give you an idea how long they've been there.