THE CANADIAN ROCKIES
After some major truck repairs, and some major savings liquidation, Katelyn and I load the truck for some fun in the freezer. The Canadian Rockies in March are an awe-inspiring alpine goliath. unfortunately the entire range was experiencing a good storm so the landscape was obscured on our drive, but a few days later it lifted revealing the infamous Rockies. The continental snow pack found in the Rocky Mountains is notoriously unstable and unfortunately this held true during our trip. So we had to set our sights a little smaller and keep off the avalanche prone alpine objectives we had been studying in prior months. We quickly found plenty to keep us on our front points. Some of our favorites were the 3 pitch WI 3/4 Snowline in Evan Thomas Canyon south of Canmore about half an hour. Despite the thin ice in some sections and the party two pitches above us knocking ice our way, we both really enjoyed this outing.
The Weeping Wall is perhaps one of the most famous ice flows in the Canadian Rockies, and understandably so. Located half way between Lake Louise and Jasper along the Ice Fields Parkway this monster ice sheet stands about
The Weeping Wall, note the climbers in the lower right corner for scale
300 feet tall and equally wide. And that is only the lower Weeping Wall. Because we arrived late in the day, around noon, we spent some time climbing about on the lower section planing to get an alpine start and go big the next day. The weather in the Rockies is about as fickle as the snowpack and the next day we poked our heads out of the truck to find it snowing heavily with moderate winds. So we retreated to Lake Louise for a ski day.
We put away the ice tools and busted out the AT setup for a day of light touring around the Oharea Lake area. Again we were concerned with the snow packs stability so we stayed in the trees and on moderate terrain. Quickly we found ourselves surrounded by more stunning mountains with both of us constantly saying, “if only the snowpack was better.” But, you get the hand your dealt and we made the most of it.
After 10 days sampling the ice and snow of the Canadian Rockies we packed our wet and frozen gear in the truck and headed for home. We actually arrived back to Vancouver with an amazing warm spell and found ourselves rock climbing in Squamish in T-shirts. Kind of funny how the weather can do that.
SHISHA PANGMA TIBET
This fall a group of friends and I put together an expedition to climb a peak in Tibet, Shisha Pangma (8027m). After long days traveling from Seattle to Seoul to Kathmandu to Nylam we found ourselves bumping along the Tibetan Plateau watching the 14th highest mountain in the world grow slowly bigger as we approached. The flanks of Shisha Pangma would be our home for the next six weeks. During this time we set about moving equipment and supplies up the mountain and within the first 10 days we had established our camp 1. Moving slowly at first to acclimatize we soon became stronger and were able to make the carries to Camp 1 and above more efficiently. By the beginning of November we had all our camps established on the mountain and the six of us retreated to out Advanced Base Camp to rest before our summit push. High winds kept us at ABC longer than we wanted to be there but we had a weather forecast predicting a lull in the winds around the 11th of November. This would be our window. We geared up and, now well acclimatized, climbed quickly to camp 1. We passed by our original Camp 2, stopping long enough to pick up some food and equipment we would need and continued to the base of the North ridge where we established a camp 2.8 on the night of the 10th. The morning of the 11th was cold and we pushed back our departure to let the sun warm us just a bit, by 6:00 AM we began climbing. Reaching Camp 3 with a stove and my down suit we made some tea and dawned the First Ascent down suit and pressed on for the summit. After hours of climbing through increasingly thin air we reached the summit. I was choking back tears of joy, to be standing on top of the 14th highest point on earth with 3 of my good friends. It was truly an amazing feat. One of our team skied off the summit wail the 3 of us made quick work of the descent to Camp 3 and then on to Camp 2.8. Two other members planed to make their bid the next day and stayed at Camp 3. In a few short days we were all back to our ABC tired and happy. Nine yaks appeared the next morning and it was a bit sad to take down what had been our home for so long and load it all on the yaks for the hike out to Base Camp. Trucks, vans, and busses finally brought us back to the overwhelming city of Kathmandu where we all had a beer and went our different ways.