Thursday, August 4

Canadian Rock(ies)

Pack your life full of enough adventure and suddenly time seems to bend. Stick to a routine and you may experience months evaporating (I definitely have... school), but spend a month on the road and you'll be working hard to remember every detail. This is certainly, at least in part, reason why I'm so passionate about traveling; I feel as though I've lived a few years of life already in 2011.... and it's only August. It's dawning on me that making the decision to essentially live on the road may just be the best thing I've ever done for myself.
Bow Valley Panoramic
night sky above Canmore - a killer, albeit expensive, place to hang
Since leaving Vancouver Island six weeks ago, or.... wait, no, sorry, (..check the calendar..) 10 days ago, quite a bit of life passed. After cursing the B.C. rain and overcast on a daily basis, we suffered a sweltering, sunny repayment high on The Chief as we battled with the quintessential 'Grand Wall' 5.11. It was a absolutely brilliant climb, offering a little bit of everything from hard face climbing to dream-like dihedral lay backing. Parched from a day of direct and uninterrupted sun, we had one last pint at the Howe Sound Brewery before taking off for the Canadian Rockies the following day.
view from belly good ledge, off the Chief

After a pleasant drive, we were seriously impressed with the beauty of this range. The Bow Valley is nothing short of spectacular - with snow crested limestone peaks in every direction, crystal clear glacial water and amazing plant life. We tried to sample a little bit of everything, spending time at a number of cliffs including Planet X, Acephale and Lake Louise. We even geared up for 'Sisyphus Summits' a 10d, 21 pitch sport climb up Ha Ling Peak, but unfortunately we decided to bail after a very slow party ahead of us refused to let us pass... it was a pretty serious let-down. We were also rained out of Acephale on our first attempt, but regardless of some set backs we had a great time.
camping in the Rockies is seriously cruxy - the cheapest actual sites are $23/night so we moved between parking lots and side-o-the-road spots until locals hooked us up with this beta.... here is a morning photo from our site.
Planet X is this beautiful, huge limestone crag about 1.5 hour hike out ofCanmore. As I turned the corner and first laid eyes on the cliff, I immediately thought 'YES. This is the spot I've been waiting for', but soon after I was a bit let down by the climbing - the movement is mostly strange, making use of odd angular features. There is very little flow to the climbing there - you find yourself slow moving or standing, puzzled and uncomfortable quite a bit. However, I did enjoy a couple of the routes I did, like 'Kurrgo' 14a with a powerful compression crux, 'Shooting Packer' 13b a really nice combination that ends with awesome flow stone endurance section and the 5.11 warm up (name?) is great too. 'Sticky Buns' 13a had a great lower section and a pretty cool puzzling finish as well.

planet X
one of many (~20?) river crossings on the way to X
Acephale is a pretty grueling 1 hour hike through awesome forest, past a rad waterfall. This is commonly regarded as one of Canada's finest, and certainly burliest crags. After trying a few of the routes I can totally understand why - it's short and burl. My primary goal was Scott Milton's 1996 test-piece 'Existence Mundane' 14b, but unfortunately it's crux move depends almost solely on a left foot heel-toe that perfectly aggravated a knee injury I encountered back in April at the Cathedral that thankfully has not given me too much trouble so I was quick to move on. I put in some effort climbing on the beautiful right side of the wall, onsighting the excellent '39 Steps' 12d/13a before putting down the truly awesome 'Army Ants' 13c and sneaking away with a success on the bouldery, rad 'Unknown Stuntman' hard 13d with a killer no-hold slab finish move that punted me once. We only got to spend one day up there, but it'd be worth a trip back at some point.
Lake Louise
Scotty is making movies
We got to visit Lake Louise for an afternoon on our way out of town. As you've likely heard, the scenery here is fantastic - worth a visit in and of itself. The climbing is equally kick ass - quartzite bands with crimps and rails for days. Tall walls and killer views. We did a number of brilliant 5.11s, with 'Dew Line' 11c being absolutely 5 star mega classic. I did a great new route on the same wall called 'Tsar Bomba' 13+, a very cool edging route with great movement and cool holds before we jumped in the car for SLC.
life in a truck
Now I'm showered (finally) and full of delicious food sitting here in Salt Lake City. It feels great to be back in the States. I'll be attending the Summer OR Trade Show over the next few days before heading out to the Hoop to do some more filming with Arcteryx. We are putting together a short video series to be released sometime next year (it'll be a while so don't get too psyched yet), but it should be action packed and awesome. In the near future however, you can expect to see video of my route 'New World Order' by Andy Mann very soon - It'll be up here as soon as it's released.