Thursday, August 28, 2008

Skiing magazines Portillo photo Contest

I have the great fortune to be one of five photographers invited to portillo to shoot in Skiing magazines photo contest. First I just want to thank Backcountry.com for making it possible for me to come down here. I don't think I would have made it without there support. With that being said on to portillo. Each photographer is to chose one athlete to take with them. I chose my long time friend and ski partner Jason west to go. Jason Is on of the most solid Telemark and Alpine skiers I have had the fortune to shoot in the last six years. Neither of us have ever been to South America so needless to say we were both supper excited.
Jason and I flew into Santiago last friday and stayed in nice little place down town Santiago. The City is mostly shops and a little dirty, but interesting. Not to many photos here, but the food was great.
The next day we were off to Portillo. our flight to santiago was landing about sunrise. You could see the Andes out the side of the window. It is such a huge mountain range! Even from the plane I couldn't see then end. So from Santiago to Prtillo is about a two hour ride. The City and many of the highways are littered with garbage. People dump there trash into the river. It was really sad to see, but it just made me thankful to live where I do. As you leave the countryside and head up into the mountains it becomes even more amazing how big this mountain rage is. There are many Avalanch tunnels on the road to Portillo. The Temp has been really high this time of year and it feels like spring weather. There are massive slides that have come down and have made the road impassible at times. Lucky for us today we are able to drive up with no delays.
Here are a few photos of the landscape
This is looking out towards the lake.


This is looking down the Supper C couloir. This is a 5000 foot vert and stands at 13,659 i think.



So the first few days of the contest have been difficult. The temp has been warm and a lot of the aspects are cooked and skied. Jason and I Have always looked for shots in Utah when the weather was not that great so I feel like we are doing really well. I am sure that the other photogs are doing well aslo seeing as how they are some of the best in the world. Jason and I did the Supper C the first day of shooting. It took us about 3 hours to boot up it and the altitude was working us over, but the view from the top was so worth it. We timed it just right and had a foot of sugar pow and sun to go with it. The couloir is so long we had to keep taking breaks so our legs wouldn't give out.
Here is a view from the top.


Here is one from the couloir


So sorry I can't post the good photos, but it is a photo contest and that stuff has got to stay here for now. I will try to post up some stuff later on.

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Climbing in the Rain

Summer seems to have ended way too early here in coastal British Columbia. Normally August is a month filled with sun, warm weather and endless high pressure, allowing trip after trip into the mountains. Instead, every few days has brought a storm with an inch or two of rain, followed by days of unsettled showers. As a result my mountain trips have canceled and I have been heading to the steep sport climbs to stay in shape and try new link ups and extensions.

However, there is a diamond in the rough, so to speak, here in British Columiba. When times get desperate and it is raining like this there is a some salvation to be had in the form of a world class limestone cave hidden in the hills of Vancouver Island. When I say world class, I mean it- this place is loaded with tufas, stalactites, pockets, flowstone and edges, as good as any where in the world. A little information can be found here and there about it, so I will leave the details a little more vague for you google detectives out there to research the mecca known as Horne Lake.

Senja Palonen works Subdivisions 12c/d. Photo by Rich Wheater

Now granted this place won't ever become too popular for a number of reasons. First there are only about 30 to 50 routes there...not huge. Second is the grades. The main attraction is this massive amphitheater about 100 feet high and 2-300 feet wide. The easiest route in this cave is the cliffs' 'warm up' which is a really steep 11a. After that there is pretty much 1 route at every grade from 12a to 14b. You have to bring your A-game to have a good time here, and be fit for full on 30m enduro-thugfests. That being said these routes are world class, knee bar, heel hooking, tufa wrangling gems, requiring 3-D full body climbing tactics.

Me (Evan Stevens) working knee bars on Save the Pushers, 13a

The last reason keeping people away? It is slightly epic and expensive to get there...let me just recap our latest journey.

Yesterday was one of these desperate rainy summer days in Squamish, so we rallied 6 people to meet up for the journey to Horne. The trip starts by getting to the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay, about 45 minutes from Squamish - remember this place is on an island. So forever a climbing dirtbag, we try and save costs however we can, and one method is by 'smuggling' each other onto the ferry. It costs $50 each way just to bring your vehicle over to the island, and then $14 each way per passenger. So we did what any cheap climber would do - hide 5 people under your gear in the back of the truck - voila $64 dollars for the ferry ride split by 6 instead of $134 for each ride. Yes, I know, it is stealing and I am a bad man, but what is a desperate climber to do when it is raining?!!??! So inevitably we got busted, and forced to pay the full price, oh well, it was worth a shot, at least they didn't arrest us!

Will Stanhope works a rest on Save the Pushers. Photo by Rich Wheater

Or so we thought. When we got to the island and drove off the boat, it seems that they had called the cops, telling them we were driving around with people in the back of the truck. Yes, I know again, bad idea, no seat belts and dangerous for the 2 people (and my dog) in the back, but it was a short drive to the cliff, and we were carpooling to save funds and the earth! Luckily for us, the nicest cop in the world, I swear the nicest cop ever, pulled us over. He told me I couldn't keep driving with people in the back, that 2 folks had to get out. He turned his cheek when they started hitch hiking, and let me go with a warning instead of a $750 ticket.

So with only about a 15 minute delay we were at the crags ready to climb. While packing our bags up at the truck, I basically inhaled a yellow jacket and was stung in the mouth. WHAT IS GOING ON???? Seemed that the stars were alligning against me, trying to keep me from climbing at Horne Lake. Luckily I am not allergic, and we got to the cliff.

Luckily for me I persevered. I got back on my project, the classic of the cliff, a massive, 14 bolt 35 meter long 13a called 'Save the Pushers' and sent, so for me all the epic struggles were worth it. This thing is so crazy steep, you lower off 60 feet away from where you started into some amazing Arbutus trees, and crawl your way back to the ledge. Everyone else had a blast and we stayed dry and got pumped while the rain fell out in the trees instead of on our heads, protected by the massive cave.
video

Will Stanhope shows you how steep it is here-but the clip loaded sideways so turn your head...video from Mike Doyle

Enjoy these teaser photos and video clip, get strong, blow some money and find Horne Lake.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Southern Absaroka Mountain Biking

After reading CTV's post about bicycle rage on the Wasatch Crest Trail, I had to read it again to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I just couldn't fathom fellow cyclists pushing bad vibes on each other, and while on the trail of all places. Don't we all get outside and play to have an enjoyable and positive experience away from life's chaos? I guess it is a good reminder to respect others, even if we are slower than them.


Here in northern Wyoming, I am sure we have the same issues from time to time, but most of that takes place in winter on Teton Pass. We may even have a slight element of animosity between different user groups in the summer, such as horseback riders and mountain bikers, which is a shame since we are out doing virtually same thing.

This weekend, Lander mountain bikers David Reed, Brad Douglass, and I headed to an area where problems have occurred between bikers and backcountry horsemen in the southern Absarokas. As a cyclist, I feel that it is our responsibility to have good etiquette and respect everyone on the trail, or we may find ourselves locked out of the places we love. This weekend's mission was to practice good etiquette, avoid grizzly bears, and have a damn good time biking; all of which we accomplished on 17 miles of some of Wyoming's sweetest singletrack.

Pinnacle Butte trail circumnavigates the Pinnacles below:



The day starts with a nice climb up Bonneville Pass, and we almost immediately ran into a group of horseback riders. We quickly and quietly dismounted our bikes and walked around the horses . Simple acts like this will go a long way, and help build positive relationships between different user groups.
Nearing the top of Bonneville Pass:


Brad Douglass finding a little bit of heaven on some buffed out Wyoming singletrack:


The Pinnacle Butte trail is one of Wyoming's classic mountain bike rides. The loop is about 17 miles long with no exit points. It is key to bring plenty of Pro Bars and to have a hydration pack that that carries at least two liters of water.
David Reed dropping off Bonneville Pass and heading to Dundee Meadows. The wildflowers are still out in full bloom adding to the beauty of this trail:
Jeramie Prine enjoys a steep, long drop back to the trailhead after climbing 4000 vertical feet for the day:

We didn't experience any road rage or have problems with the groups of horsemen we crossed paths with. We didn't even run into any grizzly bears during this ride (very unusual). We did keep our attitudes positive and had good conversations with other users while respecting their space on the trail. It was just another fantastic day on the trail with nothing but positive vibes. Fall is a fantastic time to bike and enjoy the cooler weather with fewer crowds. Get out and enjoy it!

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Teton Gravity Research VIO Promo

Just got a sweet little promo video from VIO helmet cams partnering with TGR. "It kind of made me sick to watch it…in a good way!"
video

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Adieu Backcountry Blog

Like every good adventure ultimately the trail ends, the sun sets or the powder, well, the powder gets tracked up and you call it a day.

For almost 4 years I've been posting here on the Backcountry Blog, kept it rolling forward and connected customers and adventurers alike to this blog so we all could hear of their adventures, their successes and perhaps their failures. They've shared evidence of things we're passionate about - skiing, hiking, climbing, mountaineering, etc.

This adventure of running the Backcountry blog has ended for me, the trail finished, albeit premature.

Of course, I'll still be backcountry skiing and capturing views from the top of mountains as often as I can, but it's with a bit of reservation that I say good-bye to this blog that has felt like my own for these years.

Thank you to the contributors and to the readers alike. See you on the trail or in the skin-track.


That there is a snowfield, not a glacier

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Planks or Pedals?

Date: August 8 - 16, 2008
Location: Park City, UT - Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT
Featuring: Me (Jake Kirshner), Mike Saltsman, Josh Matta

Low Res YouTube Version:

High-Res Version: http://www.jakecast.com/helmetcast/helmetCast7.m4v
(right-click > save target/link as...)

Recipe for lame crashes:
(1) parts: first biking of the season
(1) parts: first time in clipless pedals
(1) parts: narrow areas between bridges and storage bins

Cheers,
Jake

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

GSI Outdoor Nesting Bowl Mug Combo

Most of the time when camping or backpacking I eat freeze dried meals like those from Mountain House or Mary Janes so the only needs I have for eating is a titanium spork and my favorite stove of all - the Jetboil.

But lately I've been doing more car camping and backpacking with the family and while the freeze dried foods have remained steady dinner options (along with the time proven tin-foil dinners!) we've gone to the less expensive and easy to make meals like instant oatmeal, soups and hot cocoa as examples. So the need to eat from something other than a freeze dried package came up.



After poking around the Backcountry.com site I picked up a couple of the GSI Outdoor Nesting Bowl Mug Combo sets and despite a non-traditional shape the entire powstash clan is super pleased with them!

They are small enough to not take up too much space but ample enough to eat or drink from. The lid on the mug held well despite one reviewer at Backcountry.com who had the opposite result. The neoprene sleeve helps to insulate the mug.

If you're in the hunt for no frills light weight camping bowls or mugs, check these out.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Adamants Part 3

Last time I left you (scroll down) I had just been HAMMERED by weather trying to free climb the Blackfriar. We spent the next day drying out and licking our wounds, ready to pounce the next day for another free attempt of this 2,000 foot wall.

Staring down Blackfriar from camp

The day dawned clear and cold and we headed over to try our luck again. Freezing cold temps met us as we climbed in the shade for 6 pitches back up to our previous high point in no time flat. We were feeling like we could do this, all free in a day, which would be a first for any of the big walls around here. The next pitch proved to be a bit alpine. Going light, all I had was a pair of running shoes to keep feet warm at belays. I quickly put them on for the next pitch, 5.9 ice/rock jamming between a snow patch and the wall. Gear doesn't work too well in this scenario, so I ran it out for a good 50 feet to a nice ledge where the snow was gone and I could put my rock shoes on. The pitch then started to ramp up a bit - steep and with a small crack, which I had to dig out protection with a nut tool on lead, only to reveal RP placements for pro. No time to stop and think of how scary it was, so I just kept on firing to the next ledge.

Following Craig's proud 5.11+ onsight gardening fest

Craig stepped up for his next lead which was more of the same, 5.11 free climbing with small gear while gardening out the crack. We began to watch the time add up, as cleaning and freeing your pitches on lead takes a LONG time; almost 1.5 hours per pitch. At this rate there was no way we were going to make it. In fact I slowed us down big time on the start of the next pitch, trying for a long time to make my self fit into a tight squeeze chimney right off the belay. At 6' 2" and a 180 lbs, size was not on my side, I just couldn't get my hips into the thing. So I handed over the lead and Craig wriggled his smaller frame into the crack and fired off another 50m of gardening after that.

2 hours later and 8pm in the evening we decided to make the obvious call. Gardening and doing this route in a day were not going to happen. We had broken the sacred alpine free climbing rule of British Columbia - stay on south facing rock! South facing alpine rock in BC gets dried off in the sun, and doesn't allow as much moisture and vegetation to thrive, keeping the rock clean. We were trying to climb a north facing route and it just wasn't working. Oh well, lesson learned. Back to camp with our tails tucked between our legs.

The next day we decided to test our theory and headed for a new variation start to the classic Gibson-Rohn route on Ironman. Looking at the line it was obvious that we had a few pitches of slammed shut corners that were still climbable, so we took the power drill in tow to place a few bolts for pro if need be. Craig led the first pitch and fired off a nice 55m 5.11c putting in 6 bolts on lead AND still managing to free the pitch while dragging up the drill. Impressive.

Me (Evan) drilling on lead, p.2

Pretty soon after starting it was obvious that my pitch was going to be hard with out much gear. I placed 3 bolts right early on while aiding the feature, and then was able to work over toward a super thin crack and place a few pins, and finally get some regular gear in. Craig followed the pitch clean at 5.12- with some wild full body bridging, so we knew our new route would go free. 2 more pitches of splitter clean cracks lead us into the regular route on Ironman, where we than rappelled our route so we could re-lead that 2nd pitch and free it. We called our new variation 'Man of Steel' being that we bolted a new line on Ironman, it is always fun to have a play on words.

Craig following the last pitch of Man of Steel

We awoke the next day to a vicious thunderstorm early in the morning, so pancakes and extra coffee seemed in order. By noon the weather was good and radio reports had the weather being horrible for the next 3 days after this. So we bucked up and left camp at the early alpine start time of 1pm to climb the standard route on Ironman, 10 pitches V 5.10+. As we started it was obvious that the weather was going to deteriorate, so not wanting to get caught in a storm we simulclimbed almost the entire route, getting back to the base 3.5 hours after we started. Minutes later the skies opened up and we fled back to camp.

10cm of snow the next day left us festering in the tent, watching movies on the Ipod waiting for the helicopter to take us out.

Now all I have to do is stop climbing every day in Squamish so I can get around to edit my hours of video to post up here!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Good times in Cooper Landing

So, to anyone considering a trip to Alaska, I highly recommend some time in Cooper Landing . . . It's one-stop shopping for so many classic Alaskan activities. Centered in the Kenai Mountains at Kenai Lake and the head of the Kenai River, with the Russian River confluence forming the southern border, it's the home of much hiking, biking, floating, and animal watching (bears!).


Hiking above Kenai Lake


Hanging by the lake - roadside "nature mcnugget" :-)

One of many bike trails takes you to Russian River Falls where you can watch the sundry of the famous Russian River reds come upstream . . . I'm not a huge fishing/fish fan, but you've got to admit it's pretty impressive to watch these creatures swim upstream. The trail actually goes for 12 miles of singletrack, but the falls are only 3 miles from the trailhead.

The falls We also had the chance to float the Kenai River and fish for trout and dolly varden . . . floating the Kenai is a super great experience, especially on the upper river where there's no developments and no motors! Other people chose the more combat style red fishing . . . classic Kenai :-)
Cooper Landing is also a super fun place to hang out - after a day of recreation, there's tons of great frontcountry campgrounds, tons of places to crash up a trail in the backcountry (lots of National Forest cabins too!), and some great places to grab a burger :-)

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Denali 2008, Trip Report

Climbing Denali is a lot of work. The verdict is still out whether or not the West Buttress (AK Grade2+)[our route] is climbing or hiking. I would have to say both, hiking up to 13,000 and climbing to 20000+ feet. This was my first time to the Alaska range and I must say I'm hooked. I've never seen mountains on this scale before, they refer to it as the "Alaska Factor". Mountains that look like they would take an hour to skin to in the Wasatch take days to reach.


We loaded the glacier plane in Talkeetna (south side of Denali park & best town ever) we were allowed to bring 125 pounds of gear a piece, we weighed in at 124 pounds each. We took off in marginal weather in a 1950's era "beaver" and I soon realized we weren't flying over the mountains to get to the landing zone, we would be flying in between them.

I was pretty terrified at this point, running circles through my head trying to decide what crucial item I forgot. I had never spent a month on an ice-cube before and the thought was kind of daunting.



We landed safely and we immediately begun racking for glacier travel, we had about 7 miles of crevassed terrain standing between us and the base of the mountain. We covered the ground the first day and slept at the base of the mountain. The next morning we realized how much work this was going to be as we tried carrying 125+ pounds of gear up our first "hill".







A few days worth of uneventful but beautiful skinning and kicking steps later we were parked at "medical camp" @ 14,200 feet. This is the ideal camp for acclimatization so we dug in and made camp comfortable enough to withstand storms for a few days. We spent the next few days eating a lot of food and shuttling food and fuel caches up higher on the mountain. This is when I first started to notice the altitude.


After a 4-5 days of waiting out storms and acclimating we were running out of food because we shuttled most of it up high on the mountain at this point. The weather was terrible and no one was moving but we had no choice, either go up and eat or retreat back to the base of the mountain where we had food cached. The choice was obvious, we started up the 50 degree 2000+foot icewall before the break of dawn. I was in my ice-climbing gloves so I could do rope work and use my jumar. I ended up getting frostbitten for the first time in this push to high camp.

Once at high camp I started understanding the effects of altitude and exhaustion. Sometimes you are too tired to even make yourself water or go to the bathroom. Simple everyday tasks take heroic efforts. High camp on Denali is cold and windy. At 17,400 feet (20000 feet in the Himalayas due to atmospheric pressure differences) storms are unforgiving. At night ambient air temps reached -30F in late June with wind chills approaching -85 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say , without a good tent and sleeping bag you could die. We were rocking the Mountain Hardware EV2. This tent was extremely light and absolutely bomber in windstorms, however for a long expedition like this I would have rather taken something a little "roomier". My climbing partner at 6'5'' 215 pounds isn't exactly someone you want to be sharing confined spaces with (no offense Sam) for weeks in an alpine tent.
We spent 4 days at high camp waiting out storms, in the tent. Thank god I brought a comfortable sleeping pad (a large Thermarest Base camp), this is something I would never, ever skimp on. As far as sleeping bags go, this is your best friend. Buy a cheap one and prepare for sleepless shivering nights, I got mine from backcountry.com and it was the absolute warmest and most comfortable high quality bag I have ever slept in by a long shot, Marmot just does sleeping bags right.
So here we are 5 days at high camp after a failed summit push on day 2, running out of food again, low pressure dominating the area still and no good outlook on the forecast. But one thing you can bet the farm on, on Denali is the weather can turn at any moment from clear skies into the most horrifying lenticular windstorm you've ever been in. We woke up on morning 6 at high camp June 29th and decided today was the day or else. We woke up with marginal weather and started breaking trail up to the summit, no one had made it in quite some time. We pushed for 10 hours breaking trail at altitude with the weather improving more and more as we climbed. Sam was vomiting profusely on the last 1000 feet of the climb to the summit, but held it together and made a heroic effort.

Success, after 15 days of climbing, freezing, enduring AMS, not sleeping we were the two highest people on the North American Continent.
Denali is the most beautiful, coldest and unforgiving mountain I've ever stepped foot on. Next springs climbs skirt the two tallest peaks around Denali. Since we finished our climb a week early, we spent 7 days in Talkteena mingling with the locals, completely defiling ourselves with pizza, beer, icecream and hamburgers. If Deanli is on your "tick list" don't hesitate another season.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Getting it done on Lone Peak

Lone Peak near Salt Lake City is just enough of a haul to get there that it limits the number of travelers. Steep granite walls beacon to the climber and hiker alike as the alpine setting with the city backdrop of the Salt Lake and Utah Valleys is a unique experience.

I was over at Summitpost.org and spotted a very well done trip report with some top notch photos like the one above.

This peak is worth the trip whether you are hiking to the summit or climbing its steep walls and despite being within view of a metro area like Salt Lake I've found that it still feels a world apart when you're up there.

Check out the full Trip Report of Lone Peak at Summitpost.org

--image credit Rocky Alps

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Where's Karl? On the Appalachian Trail!

And he's off! Despite rainy Maine weather Karl is off and running on today, day 1. If you follow along on the Where's Karl website you'll be able to see his progress via the SPOT locater and Google Maps.

If you're wondering about the spacing between each tagged location, the SPOT can have somewhat "spotty" coverage when it's brutally stormy like was reported from Maine yesterday.

But the fact that it's tagging shows it's superior to a lot of GPS units that need absolute visual with satellites in order to work.

Sure, Karl is fast but not quite that fast as the distance between some of his location tags is substantial.

I've got to say it's pretty cool to see him on the trail via the SPOT locater tags. I can only hope I don't get sucked in to the point of lowered production. August could be a LONG month.

Tune in to Where's Karl.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

The Adamants - Part 2

Well, I gave you all the quick intro just 2 weeks ago, and now I am back.

But I am so loaded with killer photos and great stories that I will break this up into a few posts.

We landed at the head of the Austerity Glacier in the heart of the Adamant Spires, a remote group of peaks about 100 miles north of Rogers Pass, British Columbia. My trusty partner Craig McGee guides in the winter for Canadian Mountain Holidays in this area so he was chock full of lines for us to try. We built our snow camp, racked up and tried to sleep, giddy as two kids on christmas (in my case Hannukah) morning, ready to try the 2,000' formation known as the Turret.

Digging camp at the base of the Turret


Racking up in the AM

The formation had never been climbed in a day or free climbed so of course that was our goal. We walked 5 minutes to the base and picked what looked like the best line. Info on the route was virtually non-existent and the two pictures of where the route went had 2 different lines drawn in! A few hours later and about 1,000 feet of climbing brought us to the base of the headwall. We had battled a bit of loose rock and tricky route finding to this point, and now the vertical headwall took on the character of an onion skin. Peeling, hollow giant flakes were the name of the game, as we cautiously tread up another pitch or two.
Craig tackles the headwall of the Turret with Mt. Sir Sanford in the background.

About 400 feet from the top, the scary climbing got the better of us. I came up to a 7 piece anchor that Craig had made, and he still didn't feel good about it. The next pitch was a 100 foot traverse across perched blocks that was looking to weigh in at 5.11 r/x. We had enough and bailed.

We then turned our sights to trying the first one day and free ascent of the Blackfriar, another 2,000 foot wall close to camp. We did about 6 pitches of amazing Black Canyon of the Gunnison style free climbing until the skies opened up on us. I was on an intricate and run out 5.10 pitch when waterfalls starting pouring down the route. Not having a solid piece of gear in to bail on I kept climbing in the rain until I could make the anchor. Of course the anchor was guarded by 10 feet of ice climbing- this is the mountains after all! A minor epic saw us off the cliff soaked to the bone and hustling back to camp for dry clothes and warm tea.
Me bailing off the Blackfriar in a storm.

Back in camp we were feeling the mountain beat down. Adamants 2, Craig and Evan 0. But I have been in the mountains enough to know that humility and failure are a big part of the game and that is what keeps you coming back to try again. So we dried our gear out for a day, and rested up camp, to get ready to try the Blackfriar again...


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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Bedson Ridge, Jasper, Alberta

In life, you never know who’s going to be your next partner. Jolene and I were buying our first rope and draws at the local climbing store a few years ago when we met Terry & Karine. We’ve been friends ever since, and yesterday Terry and I found some time to bang out a quick 6 pitch climb near my home in Brule, Alberta.

I’ve had a tough time finding partners who wanted to climb in the traditional style this summer. When Terry phoned around noon on a day swirling in a low pressure system, I was excited, albeit tentative. It was late, the weather sucked, and even at my house, we were still 2 hours from the climb. A voice inside whispered epic. But, I had a feeling Terry and I could get up and down it safely, and opportunities such as these are too few and far between at the moment.

It was early afternoon when Terry brought over some things for supper. We assured Jo that starting dinner at nine would be great. We then jumped in my old truck for the bumpy jeep trail that snakes its way from the hamlet of Brule to the Ogre Canyon area.

We arrived at the parking lot around 3 pm and began the approach to Bedson Ridge.
You basically follow the railroad tracks (while avoiding the 300 meter tunnel) until you are in front of the beautiful faces of limestone that are the cliffs; B-Minor & B Major. We began to gear up for the climb, Doctors Dive, 5.8, (F.A G Israelson & A. McDonald 1987) sometime around 5:00pm. The skies swirled grey and dark around us. However, in our little rain shadow things were cool, dry & pleasant.

The climb follows the diagnol weakness in the middle of the face.

I made it to the first belay on one of our half ropes, and then brought Terry up. Consulting the topo, it looked like Terry would draw the crux of the climb, a few committing moves of 5.8 pitch that wound its way over a small roof.

Terry just below the crux on pitch 2.



The climber would have the option of using either the funky off width or a smattering of small edges. We were surprised to see a bolt protecting the moves. It was a bit of a relief, as we weren’t looking for a ride this evening. Terry and I climb for fun, pure and simple. Terry cruised through the moves and on to easier ground and the belay. I threw the pack on and followed the pitch up to Terry. The next pitch was mine. I ended up combining almost of all pitches 3 & 4. The climbing was great! It was mostly gear protection with the occasional piton. The limestone at B-Major is quite textured and offers plenty of small positive edges. I found myself in my zone and really enjoyed the full 60 meters.

Roche Miette as viewed from the 3rd belay.




Terry then came up to me and started the next pitch. (Then end of pitch 4). He was off route for a moment, but then came back around. This induced quite a bit of rope drag, and we realized that I had nearly finished pitch 4 in my effort. To reduce drag, I climbed the quick 15 meters to Terry and set off again on lead. For me, the next pitch was the highlight of the climbing. There was sufficient protection around although the more moderate sections were a bit runout. I ended up taking us up another 55 meters (combining almost all of pitch’s 5 & 6), and it was beginning to look a bit dark. Terry came up quickly and complemented me on my lead. According to the topo, the next bulge would be the end of the technical climbing. It was then easy ground to top-out on the ridge proper. I’d let our nearly 59.5 meters of rope before I felt that Terry had me on belay. I finished quickly as the last light was fading. Thankfully I was able to call my wife and let her know we’d be a little late.

The pain in my feet told me that it was a mistake not to bring our shoes up. The darkness made me sorry that Terry had forgotten his head lamp. It was a long 3 hours through the trees and along the steep wavy slab. The first person would walk out about 5 feet and then turn around to light the way for the second.

With a lot of luck, we eventually found our pack. The approach tennies were a welcome relief from the rock shoes we’d been in for the last 8 hours. We were soon down to the railroad tracks. We were tired, and it was late on a new moons stormy night. We remained positive however, passing eerie signal lighting on the active line. We made it over the train tunnel and back to the truck sometime around 4 am. A bit of adventure makes beer and tunes that much better. 45 minutes later we were home & gorging down elk spaghetti and getting read to rest as dawns first light graced the land.

Yep, we epiced. But, we knew it was going to go be a late night with such a late start. The weather worked with us, and the climbing was moderate, so we knew what we were getting into before we even left the house. Terry and I had a great time, and it put a smile on our faces. Sometimes an epic adventure reminds me how good it is to be alive and well on this earth. It’s also nice to know that there is amazing multi pitch climbing just down the road from where I sleep at night!

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