Sunday, October 18, 2009


The end of summer brought such a dizzying variety of activities and adventures that I hardly know where to begin. I jetted out of Squamish for the last week in August for a few days of quartzite climbing at the Back of Lake Louise along with a week of heavy-duty manual labour at Valhalla Mountain Touring to get ready for the upcoming ski season. The back of the lake schooled me big time, but I enjoyed the chance to learn a bit about climbing a new rock type and managed to get up Scared Peaches, a steep and beautiful 12a crack as well as a few super fun sport routes. Here are some shots from the back of the lake:
Evan milking a rest on the awesome arete, Dew Line 5.11c
Jen Olson on Where Heathens Rage, 12c

I was too busy wielding a shovel, brush saw or other implement of torture to take any photos at VMT. We built a new collection pond on Silveretta Creek for the hydroelectric system, improved the one on Ruby Creek, rebuilt a new house for the turbine and cleaned up the remnants of the old one (the house was pulverized by an avalanche in January), dug a new shitter hole for the staff accommodation (I'll take privacy over a flush toilet even if it has an icy seat!), brushed out the access to the Cariboo ski area, and brought up and stacked a whole winter's worth of firewood for the lodge, sauna and staff cabin. Whew! We even found enough time to pick a few huckleberries.

Following the work party at the lodge, I spent a few days at my Mum's place helping her with her bakery, Manna Organic Microbakery. She was preparing for the Hills Garlic Festival, and I helped her make around 150 croissants from scratch. Half were chocolate filled and half were savory, with roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes, chevre and a mix of herbs from the garden. Yum!
Rolling croissants is hard work

...but the final result is worth it!

Bounty from my Mum's garden

September saw me back in Squamish finishing up the guiding season with a contract for the TREK outdoor program from a high school in Vancouver. Teaching these grade 10 students how to climb involved belay practice on the fence in their school, a viewing of the John Long classic video Rock Climbing Basics (worth it for the spandex and short-short bouldering shots alone), as well as a day in the smoke bluffs in Squamish. A few days of climbing around Squamish and a quick hit of surfing in Tofino with Evan's parents was all we could fit in before the rains began and it was time to head south in The Mountaineer, a small camper for the back of our truck and the newest addition to the family. Before we left I managed to tick The Ghost, a Petrifying Wall gear route that always intimidated me but turned out to be quite safe and super fun.

Benny at Chek, chalked up and ready to send The Fleeing Heifer

First stop on the trip was Smith Rocks, Evan's least favorite place to climb. We spent a two days of climbing on the tuff before we were driven out by a snow storm. I enjoyed (while Evan tolerated) the fun and techie Sunshine Dihedral and Take a Powder. Next it was a heavy 15 hour drive to St. George, where we clipped bolts for three days at the Cathedral Cave, Turtle Wall, and a few pitches in Kolob Canyon. Next stop, Salt Lake City for the American Alpine Club Craggin' Classic. The event involved food, drinks, parties, slideshows, clinics and a great chance to hang with other climbers. It was especially fun for me to reconnect with all the peeps I used to hang with in SLC when I lived there a few years back.

It felt like the road trip truly began when we scooped up our climbing partners Colin Moorhead and Jen Olson, and settled in for 8 days of climbing in Zion N.P. It was so nice to be in one place after so much travel. We even found a great Doggy Dude Ranch for Benny to spend his days while we tackled our multipitch projects.

Inspired by Kate Rutherford and Madeline Sorkin, the first women to free the route in all-female team style, Jen and I were psyched to try Moonlight Buttress. So far we have spent four days on various parts of the climb, including one day top-to-bottom. It's going really well, but tomorrow is our last day on it before Jen has to head back to Canada. That's the way it goes with multipitch projects, there's just no guarantees. Hopefully the heat will back off a little and it will all come together! Moonlight may be one of the most inspiring multipitches I have ever been on, and that's coming from a self-professed granite lover. I just feel so fortunate to have this time to play on such an amazing route.

Me on the crux pitch, just getting into the evil flare section

Jen patiently waiting at the rocker blocker as the 4-team cluster clears outs

Our friend Jesse Huey left us a heartening note on the wall
Jen on the upper headwall

View from high on Moonlight Buttress

Starting up one of the 12a fingers pitches on the upper headwall of Moonlight

Me on the send of the big fingies pitch on the upper headwall

Colin doing some recon using the new guidebook

What happens on rest days...

...stays on rest days!

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