Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rocket Man

Rocket Man was always a big goal of mine. Multi pitch mixed climbing in a serious alpine envieronment, what more can you ask for. This is one of many routes put up from the legendary David Thompson in the late nineties, but certainly the most impressive. The route never formed again in the past 11 Winters-until now-exactly when I am in the worst shape in recent history. I teamed up with Jeff Relph from Golden for our annual adventure outing, equally out of shape but just as motivated and eager for the line as myself. We met in Lake Louise just in time for the every day grand opening of Laggans Cafe at 6a.m., absolutely no line up's, guaranteed. After realizing at the Saskatchewan River Crossing that we have gone too far in Jeff's fancy fast Audi, we made up for the delayed start with a speedy 1.5 hour approach.It was snowing pretty hard on the walk in and also for the rest of the day. Every few minutes we found our selfes in nasty spin drift showers and got to watch several size 2 avalanches flying over the rock face left and right of us.
Below you see me on the start of pitch 3, which looked easier than it turned out to be. The first time I took my fruit boots out into a longer route, basically I wanted to safe weight on my back on the approach, since we used our ski touring set up. They worked surprising well, considering I never really climbed pure ice pitches on mono points before. jeff relph photo
The climbing was thin, demanding, loose and a bit over our heads. The 2nd pitch had 8m of ice missing (read scary) and the third pitch (below) did not have the ever so important bolt protected pillar which gives you access to the WI 5 ice flow (read aid climbing on bolts, how gay is that). When Jeff followed the third he dropped one of his tools when a big junk of ice broke of the wall, luckily he did not get the bomb into his face.
After this exitement we decided to bail, the odds seemed to be against us. Only 3 tools on such a serious route, and foremost the heavy snow fall made me worry about the descent too. It was hard to rappel at 1p.m with 7 hours of day light left, but I think it was the right decision. In the end we both have 2 kids and a lovely wife to return to.
Cruising with style, Jeff's shiny Audi Quattro. What happened to the good old climbing bum generation? I certainly did not mind the heated leather seats on the way back to Laggans. After a refill and a cookie I had to step back to reality, which in my case was a cold and rattely Chevy Optra.

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