Monday, July 30, 2007

Eagle Peak SW Ridge

Been there, done that, thank goodness it's done. Oh man what a tedious route. The SW ridge isn't a technical climb by any measure but we still hoped for a few moments throughout the day where we would think "Whoah, cool. What a place to be!". Unfortunately those moments were few and very far between!

We were tired and dispirited when we finally returned to the Illecillewaet parking at 7:00PM. But look who we found to brighten our day...

Simon Mason! We hadn't spoken with Simon since leaving Montreal two years ago and there he was standing before us like it was the most normal thing in the world. It was surreal. He'd been on vacation with the family in the Calgary area and now had a few days to do a bit of climbing. The next morning he was heading to Sir Donald with Bob, Alena, and Diane who we also knew from back east.

It was great to those guys but I must admit that the encounter left me feeling slightly melancholy. It reminded me of all the great people we left behind when we moved to Kelowna.

We were knackered on Sunday and spent the day visiting some of the points of interest along the highway. The "Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk" was interesting. As the name implies it's a narrow raised pathway that allows you to walk through a low-lying swampy area. Apparently these wetlands are extremely rare in the Columbia valley and provide important habitat for migrating birds.

Anyway the best part was coming across a huge pile of bear scat right in the middle of the boardwalk.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mount Begbie

Over the weekend Brenda and I lead an Alpine Club trip to Mount Begbie which is just south of Revelstoke in the Gold Range. We had climbed Begbie a couple of years ago and felt it would be within our powers to lead (and I use the term loosely) a group up the normal route since it's mostly a scramble with a few interesting bits. The trip generated a fair amount of interest and in the end we were a group of seven with a number of people still on a waiting list.

The elevation difference from the trailhead to the summit is around 2000 meters (ouch!) so we broke it up by hiking part way up on Saturday and camping. Even this was a grunt of 1300m with the added burden of overnight packs. It's hard to know which is the best approach, either doing it all in one day or breaking it up, but it was nice to spend a night camping out high above Revelstoke. Thankfully the campsite was mostly free of snow and we didn't have a repeat of last weekend's shoveling marathon. It was also nice to actually feel chilly for a change! It's been blistering hot in the Okanagan lately. Temperatures have been as high as 40C in some places.

The route crosses the toe of a small glacier and then gains a ledge that can then be traversed to gain the north ridge. You can see the ledge just above Trent's noggin in this photo.

This photo gives a better idea of the scale - the ledge starts at that little finger of snow just above the highest figure.

There was a bit of messing about getting onto the ledge from the glacier.

The ledge itself is actually several meters wide for most of it's length except for one narrow part with an awkward step where we set up a rope to get everyone across quickly.

Once on the ridge it's an easy scramble with a few slightly more technical parts. This is Astrid taking it all very seriously.

And here we are on the top.

It's hard to avoid making these summit photos looking like bad album covers. We look like some oddball folk band about to launch into a rendition of our latest cheesy hit. Except for me, I just look like a goof.