Monday, 26 January 2015

A Single Scoop

Just the other morning I woke up feeling like it would be a multisports day. Not quite a Gaddian effort (where he did something like 16 seperate sports in one day, all involving different footwear) but something with at least more than a single serving of plaisir.   I caffeinated and ran to the Bluffs to get the party started.  

After a half dozen pitches Jia showed up and did some double dipping of his own, while I belayed and kept and eye on his son, who connivingly gave me gummi bears he had picked off the ground. 

Jia on daddy duty
 Next stop: the Chief, where I met up with Squamish's finest wingsman and sky guru Kyle Wolochatiuk. 
 We made the obligatory slog to the 1st summit and on the way ticked a few different sports depending on who you asked..."are you guys going camping up there with those big packs?  That's right, adventure camping!"

Klye plays spaghetti tricolore
Winds were from the North: quite rotary and gusty.

This guys scarf was our windsock

Conditions  were a bit unfavorable 

Kyle showed the form of a man who has flown the Chief more than anyone, ever.

A wee bit funky

Kyle finally dominating his wing

Kyle managed to get off in good form.  I thought of my friend the Wex whose story you can read here and without a shred of remorse, stuffed my wing in its pack and trotted down the trail.  My belly wanted one more scoop but I was psyched to live and play another day.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Two Days in Frey

This flick is an homage to my favorite cragging area: Frey

    It seems like this year's Patagonia pilgrimage isn't going to happen and so far, I'm ok with that.  I've done eight seasons down there over the last fifteen years, so a winter at home will do just fine.

This vista never gets old

I fell in love with this place on my first visit and ever since it's been on the circuit.  Frey is a perfect pre-alpine warm up zone or a post-expedition decompression playground with enough snow and ice hidden in the gullies to fill your cup at happy hour.

Tony Vanna Whiteing the magical huecos

The stone is comparable to the best of Chamonix granite but even more featured.

The Monk

 To paraphrase Rolo Garibotti :  When you are climbing high on the Agujas in Frey looking out over the panorama of the Andes you have to ask "What more could I ever want?"

         Thanks to my partners on this mission: Tony Richardson, Chris Brazeau, Gerog Hölde, Helen Beynon and the late Amy Stein

Tones and Braz in the Slovenian Valley

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


      This weekend I was lucky enough to session at the legendary Ice Fest in Ouray, Colorado.  It's been twenty years since the prophetic Jeff Lowe started this event and for that we should be grateful.   When I was a young climbing shop rat,  Lowe was more than just an inspiration, he was a mentor.  He disseminated his masterful technique through the instructional VHS video: Waterfall Ice.  I never got the sense that Lowe did these projects for profit, but rather as a completion of his vision and a sharing of his wisdom.

The weekend was super fun:  there were some quality folks on site and the vibe was like a Grateful Dead show minus the acid, Angels, tie dyes and free tickets.

This is Form

The Boss on the aptly named "Crossing Swords"

             It was a pleasure to see some real talent on the ice and nice to know that the embittered predictions of some people that "mixed climbing is a dead end sport" have not come true.  Neophytes lined up in droves for the clinics and the enthusiasm was contagious.  Hey, Canada! There were like, 2000 people at this thing, why don't we strike a crushing blow to our apathy and try the same here? Not just for the Banff Film Fest!

Eric and Riley gearing up.  Nice to see the young guns!
Seriously, this was nothing.

              The Competition: Normally, I have a distaste for this kind of thing since it sullies the very essence of our soulful pursuit, not unlike blogging.  BUT, here in Ouray I was moved by the (mostly) fun spirited nature of the competition and the serious fitness of all the competitors.  

Sasha has the Fitness!

Sara and Katie crushed their way onto the podium.  Nice work ladies!

Ines: Some of the finest technique imaginable

"Praise the Lord"

So stylish and sexy, these could only be Frenchmen

 Roger Strong Stoked!

Some nights it got festive!  #it'sawalkoff

One of the highlights for me was a random pub teamup with two local guides Lindsay and Jeff.  We rallied for the rarely formed Talisman which sports three exciting pitches that require steady 'nique from bottom to top.  Thanks guys!
Jeff on P.2

Lindsay is badass


Saturday, 3 January 2015

Back to the Future

           We're only a few days in to 2015 and already several people have mentioned that this is the year in which Michael J. Fox's blockbuster Back to the Future is set.  This Film was massively influential for me; it got me into skateboarding. Skating, provided a physically creative outlet for the ballistic energy of my youth, much like climbing did when I found it a few years later.

Flux Capacitor and what appears to be Windgate Sandstone
While Wikileaks has yet to confirm the existence of a Flux Capacitor or the Hoverboard, my good friend Tony just got his hands on a "new" truck (built in 1988  soon after the release of Back to the Future) which we used today as a time travel device.

Marty McFly and his Hoverboard
Serendipitously, Tony decided to name his new whip this morning, and we gave the same appellation to the first pitch we encountered: McFly!
This truck comes with a built in auto-belay unit

I took over while McFly prepared Cappuccinos
McFly (the truck) rolled us hot into the Squamish nearcountry where we plucked this roadside beauty and a three pitch classic we named Back to the Future

  The approach pitch which we actually avoided
   on the approach and downclimbed (for style) on the descent

P.1 which we discovered and climbed on the descent  (really)

P.2 The crux, which we did on the initial attack (at that point it was called P.1)

Tony using fine Coastal 'nique on the last pitch of the route


Rappelling directly on to the road

So much culture on BC logging roads, Canadian Prayer flags and Prayer Wheel (upper left)

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A Sportsman's Double

 For the final day of 2014 I got Shanghaied into some early morning Ice hunting with this guy.
 You can tell just by looking that he's the captain of the SS Mischief...

Tim Emmet out for a giggle

We tried our luck on the U Wall Drool, WI 3 dribble that forms below the University Wall

Sadly, you'd have to be completely unhinged to get up this thing. It was so thin Tim considered using his tongue to get some "sticks"

Tim about to make good decisions...

Next stop Murrin Pass where there was enough ice to get up to no good.

By noon, it was too cold to continue so we bailed and I rallied with Helen to the mighty Smoke Bluffs where half the villagers of Squamish were already there.
Colin Moorhead and Neil Dyer practice synchronized climbing

There was a bit of scandal, some people violated the "no tats out till Spring" policy
Jeremy Smith showing off his tats

The climbing continued till the sun dropped below the horizon for the final time of 2014

Emilisa Frirdich milking the last rays of 2014 on "Boyd's Pathology" 5.12b

The Nuclei

Here is a quick review of one of my favorite jackets: The Nuclei

I wear it on it's own or under a shell for Ice climbing
First ascent of the Amsterdam cafe WI5

It's a go to piece while rock climbing, belaying or rappelling.

Vikki Weldon in her Women's Nuclei on technical 5.12 ground
Rapping off a Morrocan Big Wall

The Nuclei works really well if you need to cuddle a puppy

For Paragliding, I layer this jacket under my lucky Squamish Hoody.  The hood fits snugly over my helmet.
About to launch from the Chief

Packability is primo!
Consider clipping two points for scrappy climbing