Saturday, 27 October 2012

Of golden leaves and larch trees...

After returning from our respective Waddington adventures, Colin and I had settled into the usual Squamish routine; sleep until 9:00 am, Sarah makes fruit smoothies, Colin makes eggs, check the weather -- it's perfect -- go climbing, come home, stretch, check emails, and make dinner as the sun sets over the mountains to the west. It's a glorious routine, that I believe, is completely unique to Squamish. Life is good here during the dog days of summer.

Sarah, the sound, and the sun. Rich So's photo.
Colin celebrating the dog days of summer like only my boyfriend can!
By some miraculous turn of events, fall, and the ensuing monsoons, didn't arrive as expected in mid-September. Typically, Squamish empties of its climbing population around this time as seasoned road-tripping climbers pack up and head south, chasing the sun. Colin and I are no different, and after so many years of embracing the "sun chasing" routine, our internal clocks were telling us it was time to get out of dodge. 

And so, despite the near perfect conditions in Squamish, we packed up the Subaru and headed for the Rockies. Brilliantly, the good weather that had befallen us in Squamish, was following us to Alberta. We were headed to Lake Louise where Colin was to meet up with a friend, John, for a couple days of climbing cold, snowy, icy north facing routes on some classic Rockies peaks. I for one, don't want anything to do with that kind of finger freezing "fun". So, I gladly let Colin go romp in the ice with John, while I met up with my friend Josh to get things started with a day of climbing at the Back of the Lake. 

At the end of our climbing day, Josh, a seasoned dirt-bag himself, took a few minutes educate me on how to dirt-bag in style in Lake Louise -- unfortunately, for the sake of a "free" shower next time we show up in Lake Louise, I can't reveal any of Josh's secrets. That evening Colin and John returned triumphantly from a little jaunt up Mt. Temple's Greenwood-Jones. John unfortunately, had to high-tail it back to Calgary to work for the week, so Colin and I spent the next 5 days climbing around Lake Louise, with one brief trip to Canmore. 

I hadn't spent any time in the Rockies since a sport climbing trip in 2008 and I was reminded all over again, just how awesome Rockies climbing really is. Our trip was made all the sweeter as we found ourselves in the midst of fall in all it's colour-filled glory. Everywhere we went we were greeted by scenes of blazing yellow Larch and Spruce leaves... 

Larch trees and the Valley of Ten Peaks. Colin's photo.
The Back of the Lake is most certainly the prize of the Rockies. Perfect quartzite crimps and cracks situated above the oft' photographed Lake Louise. Climbing at the Back of the Lake is an exercise in exposure management, despite most routes being only a single pitch in length. With the quartzite band sitting high above Lake Louise, and Mt. Victoria towering well above, it's hard not too feel intimidated. Fittingly, Colin and I both got scared on the classic 5.12 crack "Scared Peaches", something I will certainly have to come back for!

This is not me! Katie Brown climbing at the Back of the Lake. Boone Speed's photo.
After a few days climbing at the Back of the Lake it was time for a run up the ultra-classic Cardiac Arete on The Grand Sentinel. I'd heard whispers of how awesome this 4 pitch route up a narrow quartzite spire was, but I did not fully appreciate its radicalness until we were on it. The photos will have to speak for themselves....

There she is, the Grand Sentinel. Colin's photo.
Sarah approaching the Sentinel from Sentinel Pass. Colin's photo.
Colin approaching Sentinel Pass.

Colin adding a layer as we head into the shade.
The Sentinel's shadow!
Colin following pitch one.
Sarah following pitch two. Colin's photo.
Sarah following pitch two. Colin's photo.

A brief moment of sun. Colin belaying pitch three.

Another cool shadow down there. Colin following pitch three.

Colin leading up the last pitch. Colin's photo.

Sarah following pitch four to the summit. Colin's photo.
SOME...
SERIOUSLY...
BAD...
POSING...
GOING ON HERE! Trying to look good for the camera, and apparently not doing a very good job! Colin's photos.
Cumbre! Colin's photo.

Enjoying our skinny little summit. Colin's photo.




We combined a little sightseeing tour and reconnaissance mission the following day to rest our tired bodies. It was my first time on the Icefields Parkway, and was also a perfect opportunity for Colin to scope conditions on some of the routes that John and he were hoping to climb the following weekend. Probably the highlight of the day was watching Colin talk to the Ravens -- he made one friend in particular.... 


Colin checking out the conditions on Howse Peak. 
After our rest day we headed to Canmore for some visiting and a day of limestone sport climbing at Bataan, a glorious south facing limestone wall above Canmore. Only problem, the approach is about 1.5 hours straight up! 

Finally, while Colin took off with John again, I spent a day climbing with my friend Amelie on Yamnuska, a Rockies classic wall, and one I'd not climbed on before. The company was incredible, we had a great day. The climbing, I don't know if I'm sold on Yam yet?

Amelie following pitch one of The Devil's Right Hand on Yamnuska.


Looking out towards Calgary and the beginning of the Prairies.

Amelie following pitch three.

Amelie leading out on pitch four.

By far the best pitch of the route was the last one. Amelie leads out the big 5.10 roof to the top of the wall.


And that concluded our little Rockies holiday. It was time to get back to Squamish for a few more sends before mother nature turned on us in all her fury. 

2 comments:

  1. Looks like an awesome trip Sarah. When you're done with this climbing nonsense, let me know if you'd like to go skiing :)

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  2. Brad! Hi!

    Hahahaha, no end to the climbing fun in sight just yet. Off to Bishop soon, then on to Patagonia via Toronto. But, I think Colin and I will be spending a bunch of time in the Rockies in the spring. I'm sure you've got some races planned out that way? You and Aimee should make sure you come for a visit. How's Squamish treating you?

    Happiness.

    Sarah

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