Tuesday, November 23, 2010

arctic air

Since about a week western Canada is under the influence of cold arctic air with (hopefully) the peak temperatures today. At least the wind shifted from NE to SW, which is always a good sign for warmer air down the road. The slightly waning moon allows for some wicked morning shots once every 28 days. Due to some cloud coverage in the east there was no alpenglow on the peaks this morning, but the resulting softer light makes a nice substitute. The moon (or correctly said the earth rotation) moves actually faster than you would think, about 3 minutes for the distance of it's own diameter. This fact only comes apparent to the human eye when he is close to the horizon.In this cold weather I'm not inclined to go outside the house at all, unless I have to. My only activity lately is getting fire wood downstairs and clean up the toys from the kids.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

first ski tour

Yesterday, after a few brutal days of indoor sessions at the managers meetings in Banff, I finally got out to enjoy the wintery landscape we have right now here in the Bow Valley. Since there is not enough snow right now in the rockies to do a proper ski tour without hitting rocks, I went to Sunshine ski area and up the still closed Goats eye mountain. After escaping the minus 22 at the parking lot with a chilly northerly wind, I was pleasently surprised by warmer air up high with almost no wind. I even managed to have a long hang at the top without even putting a jacket on. Great to see the magic winter wonderland again.
As you can see, Bourgeau left is in great shape right now with no signs of previous activity. I was surprised that with all the desperate climbers out there looking for some smears of ice 3 hours up some wired drainage, that such an obvious classic has not been explored yet. The picture below shows the starting zones of the bowl above the climb. I think you are safe climbing it right now, but I would keep an eye on it if there is more snow or wind in the future. I don't trust the Nov. crust layer at all and with more load it might become a serious issue. Play safe and have fun and let's hope for more moderate temperatures in the near future.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Exactly 10 years ago, my parents, four friends and myself set out for a "good bye" ski tour close to my hometown Lienz in Austria. I was supposed to fly out the next morning for yet another half year of heli skiing in Canada. It was a splendit day with lots of powder and smiles on the way up in a tranquil winter land scape. Almost at the summit, we triggered a huge size 4 avalanche and we all went for the ride of our lives, which turned out to be over 1000m in elevation over rocky terrain for most of us. It was a miracle that all but one survived, and that's what I'm celebrating today. My father died with the age of 60, doing what he was so passionate about in his beloved mountains. The doctors said there was no pain.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Regarding my previous post, I had a request for more information on the location of the new routes, so I thought I might as well post them.

A-The flame turns blue proj. 37m
B-Dream Machine 5.11, 40m (60m rope works when lowering to mid anchor)
C-Wet Dream 5.11+, 20m or 42m into B
D-Halloween parade 5.10+, 17m
E-Zeitgeist 5.12+, 30m or 45m into F
F-The show must go on 5.13-, 45m (60m rope works to lower to Zeitgeist anchor)

As you can see, there is a lot more potential up there, and the cliff band continues. For motivated drillers, there is a fixed line up route B which gets you all the way to the scree ledge on top of the routes for more development. There is also a fixed line on the far left side of the picture, close to the obvious corner. This one is a few years old and left by Ian Perry I think, it looks very brittle and I would not trust it anymore.
The views from up there and the obvious white trees at the base of the routes. I think if you would bring a battery powered coffee grinder, you could probably make chalk out of it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Time to move on!

Well, there is not much going on for me right now, sorta transition from developing a new area and waiting for snow. The ice was slow to come this year but I bet with the recent cold temperatures there is some fun stuff to play around right now. I brought my drill down from "Bellavista" yesterday, someone told me it's bad to leave it out all winter, and I think I've done my fair share of swallowing dust this fall. My time off between work and family the last 3 weeks were pretty much occupied with drilling, cleaning, trail building and lots of walking. Since the new area is a 770m hike from the car and I've done it 12 times, I could have gone to Mt. Everest from sea level. The result of all of this are 6 beautiful routes, one will be really hard, one really easy, two in the 11 range and two in the high twelves or so. 80 bolts, 3 drill bits and 6 anchors with chains and biners, plus my Ipod were sacrificed. I hope it will pay off next year, as a little sanctuary when the Lookout gets crowded. Regarding my Ipod, I forgot it up there one evening, and when I showed up next morning it was gone. Since I knew exactly where I left it and there where no other human beings around, I have a feeling a pack rat took it into his "shiny item collection". I truly hope the rat has the same musical taste like me and he can enjoy some austrian hump ta tah songs until the batteries or the thief itself dies.
If anyone is into some ice or mixed climbing, please let me know. I have the next 9 days off and I'm looking forward for a new challenge again.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

the definition of alpine climbing

When I climbed my first routes in Canada such as the north face of Chinamans (sorry, Ha Ling now) or Yamnuska I called it alpine climbing. Cliffs like that in Europe were considered as alpine climbing, simply because it was happening in the alpine (above tree line more or less). Now here in Canada I've been told that this is not alpine climbing, maybe alpine rock climbing at best. Not that I want to argue with this, but nobody to this date was really able to tell me what ingredients are needed to call an outing alpine climbing. Although I heard comments like: there has to be ice somewhere on the route, like the picture above, or you have to suffer a cold bivy (or suffer more with spending a night in a snow cave with a chain smoker like me).If you look in the canadian alpine bible-Selected alpine climbs in the Rockies-there is a wide variety of climbs, a lot of them resemble what Chinamans or Yamnuska has to offer. What is the difference between Brewers Buttress on Castle versus Direttissima on Yam? Or a Gmoser Route on Louis or the East face of Mt. Bable, the list goes on and on. Anyways, if someone could help me out in describing alpine climbing to me in a few sentences, it would be much appreciated. Whoever comes up with the best description which makes the most sense, I will by as much beer as he/she can drink in one evening in a local pup of your choice.