Canadian Rockies 2006
Richard Doucette, Tom Boydston, Rick Buirkle, Pete Fleurant, John Hazell, Yuki Fujita
Friday Feb 17 flew to Calgary with tom via Montreal on Air Canada, and experienced the standard Air Canada missed connection ¶
Sat feb 18
Met up with the rest of the group at Johnston Canyon. Short/flat hike into the canyon, one of many with a steady flow of tourists on guided walks. Led a grade 3-4 on the right, then tom did the same. Yuki did a hard 5 in the middle. Tom and I then did a two pitch traversing 4+ on the left on brittle ice. Kinda scary. I was happy to find a good belay spot, to break it down into 2 pitches. I don,t recall doing much traversing on ice, and now I know why. It wasn,t bad when there was ice below you. But as Tom traversed left on Pitch 2 the terrain fell away and we were in a very airy position. It was short but nerve-wracking. The ice was hard too. Happy to be in the trees, then we rapped off yuki,s route.
We stayed at the Alpine Club of Canada,s Lake Louise Lodge. Good location, and its one of Lake Louise,s only reasonably priced accommodations. Tom and I moved in that night. I managed to rig just enough line to dry the wet gear. The rooms are small, and the hostel was crowded as it was a 3 day weekend in Alberta. The upcoming holiday was Family Day Ě. These Canadians are so nice ¶kinda like Mormons ¶but it,s a nationality ¶not a cult.
Sun feb 19
Cascade Waterfall is the worlds best grade 3 Ě according to the guidebook. The climb looms 6 pitches over the highway as you drive past Banff. You can see it from a couple of miles away. After a grueling 5-minute approach, pete and I roped up next to tom and john. We planned to climb on the sides of the route and go at the same pace. The first pitch is easy, the next two-three are very easy. Then the next two are grade 3, and you can find a 4- line if you look for it. The ice can be chandeliered here, as the sun impacts these upper pitches. The route also necks-down here, and you will be under other parties, so you have to be ready to duck. Most rap the route from here, but you can do another steep pitch and walk off left. We rapped on fixed rock anchors.
Mon feb 20
The Professor Falls. Park near the Banff Springs Hotel and take a long (over 1 hr) walk along the golf course access road. It,s a boring walk until you get to the River, then it,s a pleasant walk with good views. After some great views of the Trophy wall and Sea of Vapors Ě high above, you come to the turnoff for The Professor Falls. The first three pitches are grade 4. I got on a steep section of pitch 2 and almost had to back off. The ice was a chaneliered and hard, I had a leash problem and started getting pumped looking for some decent ice for a screw. I started making a plan to hang off my tools but managed to hold it together, but wore myself out. Then there are a couple of pitches to walk and one to climb ¶before the final long steep pitch. The upper half of the climb had fresh wet ice, which was a great change of pace. But the ice tends to suck on the finish √Ę‚ā¨‚Äú all chandeliered. This has been the scene of many accidents, as people are highly motivated to finish the last pitch ¶but the ice really does suck. Tom got half way up it and decided against doing the finish. We rapped on fixed rock anchors. A Long day.
Had a nice chat in the Hostel with a couple of old hippies who live in Florida and come here annually for the XC skiing. We met them last year, and they are originally from Massachusetts. They were still raving about the gallon or so of leftover Alfredo sauce that Nancy made last year, which we left with them.
Tues feb 21
Last year Rick and I didn,t finish Louise Falls, so I wanted to do so this year. The first two pitches are grade 3-4. This gets you to a huge cave under the upper pillars. There are 2-3 finishes. Both Rick and I found the easiest one, and it was still a tricky 4 without much pro. I climbed with John, Rick with Pete. A grade 5 finish looked doable, but it was brittle and much ice came down when a guide dragged his 2 clients up it. A pleasant walkoff to the right brought us back to the bottom. We then hiked up the valley to some short unnamed flows on the far wall. Again the ice was hard and steep. I did a short steep 4 and was glad when it was over.
Wed feb 22
Our annual excursion to the Weeping Wall; a 2+ hr drive from Lake Louise. The whole party made the trek. Tom and I did the left side. It,s a 4 in the book, but Tom did 3 hard leads, two were 4+ at least. I was beat, and led the first pitch. Great views from above. It seemed like you could see all the way to the Bugaboos. On the descent, we pissed off some guy doing a line up the descent route. He didn,t like our ropes being near his party ¶but that should be expected when one is ascending the descent route, no? Gotta remember to scope out the rap stations in the guidebook photo, to know the various descent options.
Thurs feb 23
Most of the group took a skiing rest day. John and I went looking for short climbs with shorter approaches. We ended up at Haffner Creek, where mixed climbing was supposedly invented. An instructional group of female climbers led by Abbey Watkins was there. We met them earlier at the hostel. We toproped a few grade 5s that had been climbed and climbed and climbed. Even with all the steps, it was tiring. Shoulda taken a real rest day. Went into Canmore to shop for food. On the way back we were hungry and tired and I managed to exceed the speed limit enough to qualify for a $156 Canadian speeding ticket. The cop was very polite (those Canadians ¶) and made me feel appreciative that he only gave me an $89 speeding ticket.
Fri feb 24
Yuki was going to drag me up some 6s this day, but was lacking some energy, so had to back down to something easier ¶like maybe a 5. I was beat, after the accumulated energy expenditure and dehydration. I slept late. After 11 hrs in bed and 4 cups of coffee I was ready to go. Tom & John were going to a place called Gibraltar Falls. Supposedly a 45 minute drive, so we joined them. We were a bit off. After 2-2 √ā¬Ĺ hrs in the car and one spinout on a deserted ice-covered logging road, we finally got there. It,s a beautiful spot along the Kootenay River south of Radium. The sun was shining and it was the warmest we had felt since arriving in Canada. Yuki & I did the right side; I led the first (easy) pitch. Yuki did 2 hard pitches of grade 5 then we did a flat traverse left to the anchors. Rapped the route on fixed anchors. Leave time for a visit to the Radium Hot Springs next time. That night we had our end-of-trip dinner at the restaurant above the Lake Louise Inn (not to be confused with the fancyschmancy Lake Louise Hotel). All, other than Rick who was agast that the got Chivas instead of his desired Hennesey, had a fun time. He engaged in standard American waitress ballbusting.
Sat feb 25
We were all pretty tired, and it was √Ę‚ā¨‚Äú25C ¶or something like that. So we took a day to sightsee, shop and eat in Banff. After 7 straight days of climbing and 30something pitches, I was done. Banff is quite an international place, and there,s plenty of mindless shopping to engage in ¶everything from cheap-and-tacky to overpriced-and-gaudy. Just what the doctor ordered. I recommend Bruno,s Place for lunch. John let us in on a French-Canadian delicacy Ě known as poutine: French fries covered in gravy and shredded cheese. That,ll keep you warm (and fat) on those long cold northern winter nights ¶ Sun feb 26 we Flew home.