Friday, December 24, 2010


Merry Christmas to all of you out there, I truly hope you have a joyful 2011 and play safe in our wonderful mountains.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

a few days in the Bugaboos

I just returned from a 4 day trip to the wintery Bugaboos. CMH hosted the annual Guides training session up at their luxurious lodge. Like every time I've been to those sessions I enjoyed beeing up there with so many fellow guides, catching up with everyone and at the same time learn a lot of new skills for my profession. The skiing was great and the fun level high, I'm looking forward to a new Winter season in the neighbouring Bobbie Burns.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ghostly ghost

The cold air is back! After fairly warm temperatures for the past 10 days we are back in the -20 range. My annual outing with Marc Piche brought us to the South Ghost, and for our first climb we choose "Malignant Mushroom". Looked like we were the first party to climb it this year, and the quality was so good that we decided to do a second lap on it in the warming sun.
After this we switched to the other, shady side of the valley and climbed "Wicked Wanda", which was also in nice shape. Of course a bit colder over there, but luckily no wind, which is rare for the Ghost.
We drove to the park boundary, but I would definitely recommend a heavy duty pick up truck for this.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sacre' Bleu

Today I got a chance to get out climbing with Raphael Slawinski and Steve Svenson from Seattle. We "seatteled" for Sacre' Bleu after it's been reported to be in challenging conditions. As it turned out, the climb was worthwhile the long walk, very different to the fat ice you usually encounter up there. Below Raph on the first pitch, climbing the thin ice during moderate snowfall and spindrift.Raph is at the spot where Steve and Barry turned around a few days earlier. He then took the left hand pillar onto a ice glaced run out slab. A total of 55m gets you to a bolted belay on the left.Steve Svenson leading into the virgin ice of the steep last pitch, another 55m to a very rusty bolt belay on top. Since I was the youngest in the party today, which rarely happens lately, I had the pleasure of being guided by two strong "oldies", thanks!
Raph is doing a last second check of the anchor as Steve leans back. I kinda like the look on his face.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Super hero ice on Bourgeau

Out for my first ice climb this Winter, probably the latest I've started the season in a decade. Well, at least it was worth the wait, as the climb is in perfect shape right now with one swing plastic ice top to bottom. The top pitch is as easy as it get's, only short steps of vertical, intercepted by little ledges. Very warm temps today with no overnight freeze made the ice a bit wet though, the picture on the top is taken on the approach, and you can already see wet streaks everywhere.
Views from top of the last pitch-the advantage of climbing alone is that you don't have to place any screws. The downside, you still got to drag a rope in order to get down.
The first time today that I noticed an ice pillar back in Healy Creek, seen right from the parking lot of Sunshine ski area. Is this "Faux Pas" or a new line, does anybody know???
By the way, Bourgeau right is not in, actually not even close. And the Icon of Sunshine road, the plentiful Bighorn Sheep, obviously enjoyed the warm weather too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

desperation ski touring

Lately I've gone up a couple times to Norquay for some ski touring labs out of sheer desperation. There is just not enough snow around here in the rockies to go on a regular skitour without major damage to your equipment or yourself. Norquay works actually surprisingly well if you want to focus on the uphill and getting some fresh air in. You can start at the Juniper and gain 720m to the top of the American Chair, which is closed right now. Coming down is industrial at best, but so far I have not hit any rocks yet. Do it before 2 p.m., otherwise you are in the shade most of the way. A decent outing right above Banff, no people and great views. Watch out, I saw some fresh Grizzly bear tracks up there, something you would not expect at this time of the year.

It doesn't look like we're getting snow anytime soon, at least not here on the east side of the Rockies, so this might be something to keep the frustration level at a minimum.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Heli Crash on Ama Dablam

Another sad day for mountain rescue, this time in Nepal. This accident cought my attention, since I was at the same mountain on the same spot years ago (1997). Those days we could not even imagine that someone would attempt a rescue from this exposed mushroom ridge, and the equipment has not changed since then. A pilot and an engineer had to give their young lives for someone who was not even hurt or in any particular danger. That is the sad part of this story for me.