Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Scrambling up the Canadian Rockies

A few weeks ago, on fairly shorthand notice, I decided to leave my home office and the Austin heat for a few days to go and visit my friends in Calgary. Mainly for their proximity to the mountains – drive 2-3 hours west, and you’re in either Banff, Jasper, or Yoho National Parks, at the border between Alberta and British Columbia, which follows the continental divide in that area.

While Taco’s and my original objective, scrambling up Mount Assiniboine, never worked out because of negative weather forecasts, we had a bunch of fun doing other things:

  • Batgirl took me to see the "tourist section" of Rat’s Nest Cave the night I got into Calgary. Quite a fun place! And the first time I have caved in a (borrowed) cotton suit. The next day, Taco and I climbed "Morningside", a fun sport-route next to the highway, 4 pitches, rated 5.7...

"The Grotto" in Rat's Nest Cave. (Photo by Batgirl)
  • Taco and I spent a long day scrambling up Mount Daly, a 28 km round trip with an elevation difference of about 1,500 meters. The views of the surrounding ice fields were incredible.

View from Mount Daly - the clouds have just started to clear out.
  • Batgirl and I hiked into the Little Yoho Valley Friday night in order to explore its surroundings the next day. This was the first time I got to test out my new (to me) bivy sack – and just to make things realistic, it pretty much rained all night. (The bivy held up fine. :-))

We decided to go and check out the snout of this glacier around the corner from Little Yoho Valley.
  • Having been able to get a reservation for the Abbot Pass hut, Taco and I scrambled up to it from Lake O’Hara and got an alpine start the next morning in order to climb up onto Mount Victoria’s Southeast Ridge to the mountain’s south summit. This may have been the most technical ascent I have done so far – nothing serious, but some easy (yet quite exposed) climbing moves, and we decided to rope up and get our crampons and ice axes out on the way back to get up a snow/ice slope on the ridge. 

Southeast Ride of Mount Victoria, with the summit in the clouds.

In between, I got to spend some time in Calgary. Quite an enjoyable town, with good coffee shops and food, and even a place serving a number of German beers on tap. Now I wonder what it looks like in the winter. ;-)