Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yamnuska "Missing Link"

Packing up for another mission on Yam. This time around it was meant to be special. Steve 'Holyski'(I wish) , Ben 'Fearth'(less) and myself were waiting long enough for this moment to mature.
And there it was. Years of preparation and careful planning into every imaginable detail paid off, all the required gear fits in the coffee mug.
As the tension builds on the approach trail, Steve undetermined spirit kept us going up to our ultimate goal.
A quick "do we have the Balls to do this?" check before we hit the point of no return.

Steves ball check seemed to work and ever so focused he moved on upward to whom ever beat he was listening to.
Pointing in the very future of Yams history. The line, the project and the soul, the golden triangle that feeds from each other. It all comes together right there, without even touching the stone yet. A truly historic moment, I will always be greatfull to be able to witness and feel part of it.
Ben got the short straw and the first lead. Although at the time I did not think it was the right tactical move, in hindsight I truly believe that nobody could have done a better job than him. A successful lead starts with the right prep. Different shoes for different needs, and sanitized gear makes one ease ones mind for such a demanding task. I never got the '2 finger pushing in and out your own fist' technique alongside the heavy grunting, but it seemed to work for him.
Ben "the Man" racing up the first few moves while Steve is busy belaying. At the same time he is able to be searching for his lost balls in the gravel-multi tasking at it's prime.
Clean climbing was our foremost goal, there is too much dirt on our climbing routes already.
Another prime example of our "leave no trace" ethic: natural, bomber and dynamic, just like our self.
So here is the ultimate proof of our successful, new style. The leader, in this case myself, chooses the center line. The followers move right and left and choose their own, completely independent line. This technique enables us to make 3 first ascents on the same go. Therefore we will be able to catch up with the number of first ascents with Andy G. and it will catapult us to the top podium of route developers on Yam.
If there is still disbelieve lingering amongst some readers, here is another proof of our new style. Ben cranking out climbers right, while myself snapping the shot from him climbers left (obviously in relation to Ben), and Steve taking the lead right trough the center without any compromise.
And now, back in my cozy living room, I find myself reflecting on this outstanding experience.
If you ever find yourself not knowing what to climb anymore on Yam, you think you have done everything 'worth your while' on the cliff, but you still have that ever so faint, and at the same time-pressing feeling-that you are missing out on something good that you have not done yet. So if this is ever happening to you in the future, don't be a fool! Don't climb "MIssing Link" on Yamnuska, it's not worth your while.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mt. Baker

Alright, I'm back. Back in Canada and back blogging again. After 3 months of absence, this is an attempt to keep in touch with the outside world again. Europe was awesome, crazy busy and just too much going on for writing a blog. Four days after our arrival in Canmore I found myself back on a plane for Seattle. The goal was to climb Mt. Baker, the most northern volcano in the US. Together with 2 more fun guides, Steve Banks and Mike Bromberg, both from Crested Butte, we were hoping to lead 5 climbers and 2 camera men up the north ridge. Long story short, a brutal storm prevented us to set foot on this beautiful summit, but we had a good fight and came close. In the end, everyone including the guides had a great adventure and we brought the team safe and happy back to civilization.
After a 4 hour car ride from Seattle we finally arrived at the ranger station of Mt. Baker, where there was high quality bouldering to be had. If I would have only known, I could have brought my crash pad - note the bone crushing landing to my right. Luckily, after a summer of guiding in Europe, I was so out of shape that I could not lift my second leg off the safe ground anyways.
Below you can see the only shot I got from the mountain we tried to climb, considering the fairly low elevation of just under 11000 feet, the glaciation is quite stout.
A 3 hour hike with heavy packs through a magic west coast rain forest got us to high camp on the Heliotrope ridge.
After pitching the tents I ran up for another 1000 feet to check out the approach to the north ridge, just to make sure I find it with my cheesy headlamp the next morning. The reward for my efforts was this beautiful sunset amidst all those fully blooming wild flowers. Just freshly arrived from Europe I did not expect such a "fauna-tic" color show above tree line by mid September.
Back in camp I ran into one of our "clients" updating his diaries. Chad was very special and inspirational in his own way. He found the mountains helping him dealing with his disability, and his focus is to pass the message on to other challenged folks, very delightful to be with him.
Maybe an hour before we turned around, Steve and Mike trying to make sense between a map, compass and GPS in the intense white out.