Saturday, April 30, 2011

Commonwealth North Couloir

This is one of the most striking and obvious lines as you drive from Canmore into K-Country and turn the corner around Mt. Buller. There where lots of rumors about it but I actually have not heard from anyone trying it yet. There are 3 obvious rock steps and is was not clear if one could could climb up it or ski down afterwards. On March 25th I finally had a chance to try it out, together with Andrew and Craig McGee. We were not really well equipped for such a goal, since we actually wanted to ski corn on Mt. Nestor.

The first rock step was no problem, since it was partially filled with snow on the left side, but the second step was impossible with the slim gear we brought. 2 ice tools and crampons would be needed for the short but difficult step. I'm also not a good enough skier to jump that step on the way down, so a rope and harness for rappelling would be required too. So about 3/4 up we had to abandon our goal, but still got an exiting run down the deep cleft.
Since the day was young we decided to at least climb the peak via it's west ridge, which was very worthwhile and it also gave us a chance to check out the upper part of the North couloir.
At the summit we finally got a nice break in the weather and we could soak in some rays and spectacular views.
After skiing down into Commonwealth Creek we still had some energy to skin up the steep south facing slope below the fist and drop into the "Fist Couloir" on the Northside. This exiting line brought us down into Tryst Lake and back to the car during another snow storm. All in all an unexpected fun day and the first intro to K-Country for the imported coastal-spoiled Craig, who called it the Mini Alaska.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spray Traverse

A few days ago, on April 23rd, Raphael and myself took advantage of the good weather and stability to complete the traverse from Burstall to Tent Ridge. A welcome change from skiing the steeps and a fine day in the mountains close to home with fantastic vistas and serious terrain.On the top of Commonwealth Col after our first climb, the remote Royal Group behind.

Still some nice powder on our first decent down into Commonwealth Creek.
Steep, southfacing climb below the Fist, reminds me on my home turf in the Dolomites. No Rifugios with Cappucino's and grappa's on the way though, on the other hand we did not run into any other people.
Just before the summit of Repeater Mountain, with the stunning north couloir of Commonwealth Peak in the back ground and French Mountain further back on the left. 2 days later I would be there, combining it with the Chute you can see in belows picture bottom left. You can also see the overhanging south face of the Fist in profile, shouldn't there be some rock routes?
The best run of the day was after our third climb, down the north side of Repeater Ridge.

Raph on the last hill of this 2000m vertical day, pointing back to all the terrain we've covered.
Last run of the day off the top of Tent Ridge, with the south face of Mt. Turbulent behind and Spray lakes below.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mt. Patterson/Riptide Peak

Yesterday I got out again sort of unexpected and got to join Triple-X-Wex, Ryan Creary and Fraser on a nice outing on Mt. Patterson. Out of the four of us I was the only one on regular AT gear, must be an age thing. BTW, my new nickname this Winter was "Geryatric", after whining too much about my problems with getting older. It seems like every time I get to go out with the young guns we have to do something steep and exciting with some overhead hazard. When we make plans the evening before it always sounds like: "nothing too big, nice line, super safe and ahjah, don't forget your helmet and bring your hockey gear if you got some". This time for a change the hazard loomed from the left for a change, which gave my neck a chance to adjust the other way. Next time I go with Andrew I should consider bringing my belay glasses I got for Christmas, might save me the Chiropractor visit. The pictures below are in no particular order and I had to steel a few from Andrew.This facial expression is part of the secret boot packer body language. It loosely translates to "thank you for the nice steps, brother, if you continue like this you can expect a BJ afterwards".
Here I'm diving into the top of the couloir, this is terrain with high consequences if something would go wrong.

Andrew walking the last steps to the summit with the upper part of the east ridge of Patterson in the back ground. Since it is a chilly minus 12 up there he is thinking of postponing his reward for the boot packing until later in the sheltered woods.

Almost at the top, watching Ryan boarding down the 1000ft couloir.
The headwaters of Mistaya River reflecting the sun rays. It's getting harder every day to cross it without getting wet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daycare Chute

A couple of days ago I finally got to do a real ski tour with my wife Kimby again. It's been around 8 years now that we had a chance to go out and make some turns together. That's one of the few downsides of having kids, one of us has to stay at home, and most of the time it isn't me. This time we took advantage of the perfect conditions above town, Luka beeing at school and finding a last minute day care spot for Bella. This 5 hour window allowed us to ski the Miners Gulley, which we aptly renamed Daycare Chute. After skiing all the way down to town we even had time to go for some Illy cappuchino at the Merchato. One of those magic days where I love living in Canmore.

Kimby has got to take her shirt of before she drops into the chute, the last thing you want is to overheat!
The upper part of the chute, just before it gets narrow, with the Town of Canmore below.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mt. Chester NW-face

After a grand finish with CMH in the Adamants (which I want to report on later) and a day at home with the family, I got out with Andrew yesterday for a little K-country adventure. Two hours of extra driving and a delayed start due to a forgotten transceiver (let's just say so much-it was not Andrew), we got on this really cool feature on the NW-face of Mt. Chester.One hour of fairly flat terrain brings you to Chester Lake, and from just above there it is a 800m vertical boot pack to a col 30m shy of the summit of this stout 10000 footer. There, a short rock face blocks the easy access to the summit, but who cares, the chute is what we came for, and a chute we got.

A raven watched over us most of the time. Here he takes off from his exposed nest in this steep rock face, with Mt. Birdwood in the background.

The first turns into the run, Andrew styling on his tele gear. One day he will hopefully learn how to ski, so he too can enjoy outings like this.

The Chester Chute is probably one of the better of the steep road side attractions in K-Country, go get it while it's there.