Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ESE Ridge Mount Lady MacDonald

"Car died in Red Deer. Pick me up in Calgary?"
I was in Golden en route to Canmore when I received this text message from Ross. The extra driving between Canmore and Calgary and then back again, plus the delays in getting through the road construction between Golden and Banff, meant that it was getting late by the time we arrived at the Canmore Castle. We set our sights on the ESE Ridge of Lady MacDonald since it wouldn't require an alpine start. Something I'm always keen on anyway!

The approach begins on the edge of town and passes though the Cougar Canyon climbing area. The route has a few technical spots (5.5ish) and lots of exposed knife edge ridge scrambling. It generally follows the right skyline in this (admittedly poor) photo:

It's a fun route but it did seem a little tedious at times as the ridge scrambling is interrupted by loads of classic Rockies rubble, but it's definitely worth a go, even if only to climb a local Canmore landmark by a route other than the hiking trail.

We planned to do a climb the next day also. Sadly the fickle weather toyed with us. First we gave up on Mothers Day Buttress, then Kid Goat crag, and then were left thoroughly soaked by a hailstorm as we stood below the sport climbs in Cougar Canyon.

Miffed, we messed around with Ross's mountain bike at the town's little terrain park instead. This was quite successful actually. First, we managed not to hurt ourselves. Second, we managed to impress some local mountain bike gurus* by riding a hair-raising narrow wooden beam** from end to end.

*Local gurus were 10 years old (I asked)

**The track was a foot off the ground.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Balu Peak

We spent the weekend in Rogers Pass with the Okanagan section of the Alpine Club. The entire event was organized by Brenda with the idea being to get people out on some scrambles and hikes in the area and to have a potluck dinner on Saturday night. There were some familiar faces and many new faces too. It went really well.

On Saturday we took a small group up Balu Peak. Our original plan had been to climb Mount Avalanche but we discovered midweek that the Avalanche Crest trail had been closed because of damage from a big storm the previous week. In fact the entire Illecillewaet campground is closed at the moment. It's an impressive scene; there are dozens and dozens of huge trees down, their root systems, including giant boulders, thrust up into the air at crazy angles. We saw a concrete picnic table that had been smashed to smithereens under a 200 year old tree (yup, we counted the rings).

The route from Balu Pass is really just a scramble. Nevertheless it often feels a leap of faith to take on the role of a "leader" for something like this. Despite all precautions you can never quite know what you're getting into with people you've never met before! In the end it was a great group and a lot of fun. I think the route was what people expected and that everyone enjoyed themselves. Hopefully no one resents the 7:00am start :)

Balu Peak

Brian on the way up

Fresh snow on the summit

Brenda on the descent

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cathedral Park

The weather forecast over the Labour Day weekend called for rain on Saturday, rain on Sunday, and then just for a change, rain on Monday.

But we were planning to head further south, deep into the hot, dry, fruit growing region south of Keremeos. It's a desert down there, I mean how wet could it be? If it rained at all it would probably just sprinkle a bit at worst; an Okanagan rain that makes you consider a light sweater rather than a raincoat. So we decided to follow through with our plan and we hiked into the Wall Creek area of Cathedral Park to attempt the Grimface-Macabre-Matriarch Traverse.

And in the end the forecast was absolutely completely wrong.

It snowed instead.


Here I am at home now on a Tuesday evening, warm and dry, tapping away at the keyboard. Already the process of selective memory is taking hold.

So rather than having a good whinge about heavy packs, soaked feet, and freezing temperatures, I'll just say that we had a great trip. The weather swung wildly from warm and fall-like (however briefly) to full-on snow squalls and then back again seemingly within minutes. It made for a real study in contrasts; warm and cold, wet and dry, pleasant and grim, smiles and frowns.

I think the contrast between this video and just the one photo sums up our trip pretty well.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Canoeing on Okanagan Lake

We followed in the footsteps of our fellow local bloggers at Tread Lightly this weekend and made a short overnight canoe trip down Okanagan Lake. (We're not stalking you guys, honestly! It's just that great minds really do think alike.)

We put in near Okanagan Mountain Park, a 20 minute drive south from our place. The lake was crowded with noisy power boats and even noisier power boat occupants. They gawked in amazement at our incredible craft which moved silently through the water. "No engine?" they exclaimed. "But how do you tow inflatable water-weenies up and down the lake?".

Okay Brenda says this exchange didn't actually take place. Fine fine.

We enjoyed the paddle and found a nice spot to spend the night. As the evening progressed the number of boats dwindled and watched the sun set behind the hills on the western shore in peace and quiet. A great way to spend the weekend close to home.