Saturday, 12 August 2017


“Bzzz, bzzzt" my phone was vibrating, at 4 AM. I had no idea who on earth would try and get a hold of me at this time, and how do I even have service where I am right now. “You have reached today’s activity goal with plenty of time to spare!” It was just a notification from an app. I took a sip of water and stared up at the clear starry sky, not an inkling of sunlight yet, and the giant wall we had our eyes set on was just a bare outline.

Living in Lake Louise, Mount Temple's North Face is always towering over you. A grand yet intimidating wall with countless legends and notorious accidents on it. As a climber, you can't help but be drawn to it. Over the summer during slow work days, I would often take binoculars from our display cabinet and stare at the routes trying to see if they were in yet. When the routes short climbing window was beginning, I started getting intense pain in my jaw, my wisdom teeth had to come out.

"You can drive a truck up these veins! I have no idea how I missed". I winced as the anesthesiologist put in a second needle to start my IV. I woke up a few hours later with four gaping holes in my mouth. While getting your wisdom teeth out isn't a major procedure, a general anesthetic takes its toll on you, and the doctor told me "No strenuous activity for the next two weeks." I texted my friend Bryce that night asking if he wanted to climb the Greenwood-Locke the next weekend.

We teamed up with his friend Mike as well, and everyone rolled into my house Saturday evening too finish packing once I got off work. "You have four hours and twenty-one minutes until your alarm sounds" Michael wasn't happy with his phone letting him know this fun fact. At 2 AM alarms were going off, and we were stuffing down leftovers for a quick breakfast then hit the road, 45 minutes after waking up we were hiking in on the trailhead.

The couloir was easy to travel, gaining thousands of feet of elevation over Lake Annette in a couple hours. At times the snow would disappear, and we would scramble around on the good quartzite. We came across a short ledge where you can continue up the couloir to a scary traverse to get established on the rock or climb a wet chimney and slabs to gain a second snow slope that led to the end of the traverse. With our early start, we opted for the ladder. The chimney climbed at a grade harder only because pulling off any of the massive blocks would maim your belayer.

As a group of three it was easiest to lead in blocks of 3-4 pitches, then swap over the lead to the next. Bryce took the first three to get us up and established into the route, and then Mike took over. Clipping a fixed nut, smearing his left mountain boot he stabbed his right foot up onto a jug hoping it would hold, an often uncertainty in the Rockies. Bryce looked at me "I'm keeping my crampons on for this pitch." We both stepped in small cracks and laughed our way up the first move of the pitch, Bryce fell a few moves after that, Mike laughed back, then asked to make sure he was alright. "Good thing I found the bolt for this belay," he said as we arrived at him.

At the top of the next pitch, Mike gained the scree ledge that needs to be traversed, showering us with rocks as he was trying to get a belay established, then even more as the ropes were being pulled up. Bryce and I climbed as fast as possible that one can go with crampons on a slab to get out of dangers way. We were all staring at the traverse as a group, 60 meters of front pointing kitty litter choss, typical five zero climbing. Mike set off to begin building the world’s worst rope swing a couple of thousand feet off the ground, a few pieces right away then 40 meters unprotected to the other side. Bryce and I tip-toed traversing across, not wanting to try the rope swing he made for us.

Now on the rock, we stopped for a bite of food, and I needed some pain killers, my teeth were killing me, we’d been moving for over 8 hours now. I think this counted as "strenuous activity". I had brought a couple of bars and a wide variety of gels to try on this climb, Mike looked at me and said, "I feel like those are good, but imagine how jealous somebody would be if all you have are gels and the other guy whips out a giant sandwich." I don’t think he noticed the envy in my eyes as I watched him eat sandwich…

I took over the next set of leads and wandered up either side of the protruding rib, looking for the line of weakness but often missing it. Mike would come to a belay and laugh saying “Yeah I went left there, was way easier than what you did” as he passed me the rack. Continuing up the rib the rock got steeper and more exposed, but more solid, pulling into the last pitch of the rib I laybacked into a splitter hand crack then jammed my way up the brilliant rock. 4000ft above Lake Annette I was standing on top of a giant protruding rib on the North Face of Temple, I could see my house, looking down at it rather than up at this route.

A quick down climb then an exposed rock bridge traverse and we were back on the headwall. Bryce finished up the last pitches; a stout chimney, the crux slab, then the thank god ledge to traverse us into the sun and onto the scree that brings you to the summit. Perhaps having seen my hungry eyes earlier, Mike offered up another one of his sandwiches to Bryce and myself which we devoured in an instant as we bathed in the warmth of the sun. Traversing the scree towards the scramblers route, joking that we were now scree traverse experts after that route. At the scramblers trail, I split off to scramble the last thousand feet of scree to bag the summit as I'd never been atop of Mount Temple before, while Bryce and Mike started down the trail to go pick up the car.

A solitary final three hours of summiting and hiking back to the car let the whole climb sink in, mentally and physically. By the time I got back to the truck, I was almost crying in pain wishing for the trail to end, then crying in joy as the guys handed me a beer in the parking lot. “I think tomorrow’s a rest day.”

Monday, 3 October 2016

Intro to Rock

My favorite event of the year, and the one that got me into rock climbing in the first place. It really means so much to me to be able to give back to both the club and the event that changed my life so drastically. Climbing means everything for me, and to share that passion with new members and to show them the world that has entranced me and pushed me to places I would never have dreamed of before means everything to me. That’s why I love intro. (The party is pretty sweet too.)

I drove down to Skaha on the Friday instead of going to the doctors to get my foot x-rayed (only a small dislocated bone, it’s all snug in a climbing shoe, no problem right?) to get some climbing in personally before the inevitable hectic day that was going to occur on Saturday. I met up with Quentin, Evan and Will in the rainy parking lot and we headed off to the Doctors Wall (see? I still went to the doctor…) to climb terrain that wouldn’t be wet from the rain. It was a full day of climbing hard and falling big! Everyone was in project mode and we were all working out the final tweaks to our climbs hoping to put them together sometime soon. I managed to fall off my project on the final move twice this day, Salvation 5.12b, was being a fickle bitch. Tired and worked we all headed off to sleep in our cars and vans looking forward to the next day.

Saturday morning we were back in the parking lot, but this time with full sunshine and beyond ridiculous outfits, a volunteer’s tradition for the event. I myself was wearing bright red tights, a Hawaiian t-shirt, and a leopard print bucket hat to bring it all together. Scotty arrived shortly after us and we began to doll out all the gear, figure out what walls everyone was going too and we set off to put up the ropes before the masses arrived.

I thought I had a heavy bag with two ropes, my sport climbing rack, and some water. Only to learn that Mike was hauling three ropes along with his extra gear. All the volunteers were giving their full effort and it was great to see! We got to our wall, Go Anywhere, around 930AM and got setting up all the top ropes. By around 1030AM we had 10 ropes up, all we needed was the new members now to get the show on the road!

Slowly people started trickling in from the hike, then more and more, then by the time I knew it we must have had over 75 people at our wall all looking at us with intrigue (not sure if was our weird clothing choices or really interested in learning about climbing). Lina, her trusted Safety Sally sign and I got to teaching everyone the ins and outs of what they needed to know for top roping, from putting on harnesses, stabbing the snowman to make your safety pretzel, to the standard belay technique, along with volunteers moving through the crowd to ensure everyone had it down everyone was quickly ready to get going on the wall.

From 1130AM-4PM not a single rope didn’t have someone climbing on it, even the intimidating crack climb always had a continuous line of people on it. The volunteers killed it, ensuring everyone was climbing safe and often giving great instruction (Aaron was giving 1 on 1 instructions to techniques as they were climbing) although some under dubious aliases (I’m still trying to figure out who this Chon guy was) gave sarcastic instruction (“Going up is generally how I would go about doing that next move, but that’s just me…”). 

Eventually the day was coming to an end and we got all our members to shuttle some of the gear back to the parking lot and on their way to the campsite for the night, while we took down the ropes. I personally was wanting to get in another burn on my project so I quickly scoured the few remaining, picked out Mike and Kelsey from the crowd and we disappeared back to Doctors Wall to hop on some climbs before the sunlight was gone.

The plan was to warm up before hoping back on Salvation as I hadn’t climbed anything to really warmup during the event, but I took one look at it and just had to get right back on it. By the crux my arms were on fire from the flashpump but I had somehow pulled through it and was on a resting jug looking at the redpoint anchor crux that had foiled me 3 times in the past few weeks. I managed to just barely clip the chains, but it finally went down! Clearly it was the power of bright red tights and leopard print hats that pushed me to the send. I lowered to the ground, beyond psyched on the day, and left straight for the liquor store to celebrate another successful intro!

As I got to the campground I couldn’t believe my eyes. It had never been this packed before, there must have been over 200 members at this year’s event! Everyone was in a great mood as the campfires were burning bright and drinks were flowing. I’m positive many new friendships for life are made this night, I only need to look among my own friends to realize that. As the night went on the camaraderie continued, expert marshmallows were cooked, more drinks were flowing, van parties were bumping and the live music started going. Wild Son played two killer sets and everyone was dancing and singing well into the night, even a light drizzle couldn’t dampen our spirits as the night went on. I eventually passed out in my car around 2AM but I could hear the sounds of the party going on longer.

Waking up to another day of sunshine, people started rolling out of their tents, cars, vans, tarps, and killed it with the whole cleanup. By the time I left the campground at 1030AM it was looking spotless and somehow we managed to keep our reputation intact for another year. Many people battled fiercely with their hangovers, while some of us somehow went to go battle with more climbs. I managed to tick another 5.12b this time only taking 3 tries total, super excited for how the season has been going so far! I’m also looking forward to more of the climbing trips with the club this year, to see who’s new and has got the climbing bug from intro! 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Mount Gimli South Ridge

The school year is finally starting, but I wasn't quite ready to settle into it. Luckily my friend Mark was feeling the same way too. We've both been wanting to climb the South Ridge of Mount Gimli for a while, and the forecast for the weekend looked decent enough to give it a shot on the friday. So we skipped our classes (first week of school, they don't mean anything anyways right?) and drove the 5 hours from Kelowna to the Valhallas on Thursday. We arrived in decent enough time and were setting up to sleep by 9:30 PM. Mark had his hammock and I set up in my bivy sack, perfectly clear skies with absolutely stunning stars led me to sleep thinking of the following days climb.

Alarms blasting at 5:30AM got me up to clear skies, albeit a bit cold. I shook Mark up in his hammock, stuffed down a cliff bar for breakfast, and started packing the last few things in my bag. Right from the trail head you can see the entire South Ridge, Alpenglow and all. With a beer each in hand we set off on the trail, stashed them in the creek 5 minutes into the trail and started huffing our way up the approach.

An hour and a half later, Mark and I were rolling into the bivy site, only to be greeted by his old goat friend. It was still chilly and all the rocks along the approach were covered with a fine layer of frost, slightly discouraged by this we finished off the approach to see how the route was faring, only to find that it was completely dry. Stoke levels were returning and we started racking up for the climb! I wanted the crux roof pitch, which meant Mark climbed first.

The first pitch consisted of some technical 5.8+ jamming and stemming, Marks favorite. Nearly an hour later Mark was at the top of this pitch and I was coming up. Second pitch was a blast! A few harder moves off the start then a enjoyable little scramble to a chockstone to belay off. Third pitch was more jamming, Mark kept getting all the good pitches!

"Mark flailed his way up pitches 1 and 3 (his leads), often pulling on gear and generally trying to avoid jamming in the jamming" - Mark Dalgliesh.

Fourth pitch lead me past a enjoyable undercling crux to the lunch ledge. Mark followed up and we were both on it by 11:30AM, a little early for lunch but we took advantage of this ledge and ate our gourmet steak and cheese sandwiches we'd prepared the day before. Much better than my usual cliffbar lunch.

Pitch 5 was long. A full 60m rope stretcher to just below the crux roof. Mark set off into the cloudy mists that were rolling in, plugging his gear away and making his way up. I followed up and took one look at the roof and knew I was going to have a blast. I set off and jammed my way up a short crack before getting settled beneath the roof. There was one single hold with so much chalk on it that I figured this was the "crux move" everyone talked about. Adding my own chalk to the pile, I held onto it, reached around the roof, found a decent hold, moved my feet around and then found a great finger lock for my other hand. I was over the roof hooting and hollering! A fun little runout over the roof led me to bundle of slings to belay off and Mark was up and over.

The final pitch led over the last bit of class 5 climbing, and we were on top of the false summit. Everything flat was completely covered in snow up here and we trudged along the ridge towards the true summit, finally reaching it shortly after 1:00PM. Now this being Mount Gimli I couldn't climb it and not bring an (ice) axe. Despite it being (knowingly) completely useless for the climb it came along for the whole ride and I got my photo with it on the summit. It got me stoked for this upcoming winter alpine season. A trail of cairns led us off the mountain for an easy walk off descent and we were back at the Bivy site by 3:00PM. Another quick snack then a relaxed walk back to the car had us at our cold creek beers at 4:30PM leaving us plenty of time to get back to Kelowna that day. A&W, swapping naps, and Blink 182 brought us back to Kelowna with smiles on our faces.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

August Long Bugaboos

 I had a 4 day long weekend coming up and was really hoping to get on something big. It had been over a year since I was last in the Bugaboos and the Beckey-Chouinard was calling me. My friend Cailan had posted on Facebook seeing if anyone was available for the Bugaboos that weekend and I hopped on it right away. I'd acquired a partner and a trip planned for the weekend, I just needed to wait for the work week to finish now.

Eventually it was over and I was off to the Bugaboos thursday evening. Lightning storms, naps, dead batteries, and flat tires, eventually lead me to the parking lot. A hour later Cailan rolled in, with much less incidents than me and we got to discussing our final plans and to packing. The plan still was to climb the Beckey-Chouinard, we would hike to the base of the climb on Friday then either climb the first pitches to the bivy ledge, or bivy at the bottom depending on our time and fatigue. We eventually got all our packing down and left the parking lot at 11AM. A couple hours later we were unloading as much as possible at Applebee camp, ate a little food, then took off on the approach, we joked about having an alpine start just before 3... PM

The Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col was in great condition and we walked up it without need of our crampons, we headed up the highway trail towards Pigeon Spire then took final advantage of the toilet at the base of the west ridge climb, literally a throne to s(h)it upon while looking over the mountains. We dropped our crampons and ice axes at the Pigeon-Howser Col and started the descent into the Eastcreek Basin. A final fill of our water at the Basin, and a scramble to the base of the climb had us there at 630PM. We were both tired from all the uphill today and a sheltered boulder bivy at the base rather than an open bivy on the climb appealed to us so we settled in for the night at the base with dreams of being on route the next day.

A flash woke me up at 2AM, then another, there was lightning in the sky. As my other senses came too I realized it was raining too. I'm not sure how long the storm lasted but I didn't sleep much after it. Eventually the sky cleared up, the sun started rising, and we started climbing. The first couple hundred feet are class 4 scrambling, around 830AM we were roping up for the first real pitch of climbing and off. We simul-climbed the first 3 pitches to below the crux roof pull, something that was much easier than I expected (thanks sport climbing), then simul-climbed again to the first bivy ledge. We started pitching it out from here, leading pitches while carrying both our bivy gear, made the 5.9 climbing feel harder than it should have been, but it was all easily protected and we slowly made our way up.

Pitch after pitch we enjoyed perfect climbing, it was all varied and interesting keeping you on your toes. Corners, splitters, roofs, it was all good. We had been going for a while though and fatigue was beginning to catch up with us, it was also getting cold as the clouds began covering the sun. Two pitches from the top as I was leading up a corner it began to hail, streams of pellets funnelled down the corner as I tried to jam up it, then I started hearing thunder too. All I could think was "here we go, looks like we're about to have an epic". But I got to the top of the pitch, belayed Cailan up and the storm was blowing over, just narrowly missing us. Cailan took off on the last pitch freeing the traverse, and I followed up blowing the last move on it before coming around the corner. I laughed to myself saying I didn't free the Beckey, next time I guess, maybe without such a heavy bag it will go (that's my excuse).

We did the final scramble to the top, enjoyed the view, had the last of our water and food and set off for camp. We still had a few more hours before we could be enjoying a warm meal and tent. On the second rap we went the wrong direction, but luckily found some tat anchors and got back on the rap route. A few more raps lead us over the Howser bergschrund and we were on our way back to camp. Finally rolling in around 930PM exhausted, we had a quick meal then passed out in our tent.

We woke up to blue skies the following day, however our stiff bodies resisted wanting to do anything for a while. But the granite spires were beconing and we were on our way for another climb by 11AM. This time we were setting off for the NE Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, another classic! From the camp we could see quite a few parties heading up to the base of the route, but as we got closer everyone was coming down. A party in the morning had pulled off a canoe sized flake on the first pitch and needed a heli-rescue, that combined with some darker looking clouds scared everyone off. We kept going though and at the base of the climb found the flake with some blood all around it, a great sign. But looking at the route, they were clearly not going in the right direction, so we avoided where it fell from and got through the first pitch no problem.

Pitch after pitch we enjoyed stellar jamming, and took the variation on the upper pitches enjoying splitter cracks avoiding the easier chimney climbing for as long as we could. Eventually our splitters ran out and we walked across a ledge to join the chimney. The skies were getting darker and we were wanting to get a move on. We simul-climbed through the chimney up until a pitch from the top where the rop drag had me struggling. I belayed Cailan up and then it started hailing again, I heard a few claps of thunder too but luckily those disappeared after a while. Cailan climbed to the summit and I followed up as the storm kept getting worse.

We began traversing the summit ridge wanting to get off this peak not wanting to have an epic. At points you could barely see 50m ahead of you, but luckily Cailan had climbed this route before and knew where to go for all the raps. I can easily see how many parties have difficulties with this traverse, especially if you were caught in a storm. Slowly we kept moving along not wanting to stop, moving at least kept us sort of warm. Eventually we were at the gendarme on the Kain route setting up for our last few raps before the downclimbing, we were both miserable by this point but had gotten through the tricky section of the traverse. After about another hour of working our way down the storm began to settle and the sun poked out for a little. We were greeted with great views of the Howsers, Pigeon and Snowpatch as the clouds disappated. A leftover fixed rope on the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col made the descent extremely quick this time and we were back in camp by 730PM. Another quick meal and we were both off to bed enjoying the warmth of our sleeping bags again.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Sisyphus Summits

I first heard of this route just a couple weeks after I started climbing three years ago and since then I have been dreaming of getting on it. Every time I drive through the Bow Valley, Ha Ling peak looms over Canmore begging to be climbed. Last summer I did the NE Face with my cousin, a fun 5.6 outing but nothing really challenging on the route, and much shorter.

Work had severely slowed down how much climbing I was able to do in the past 3 months, but had finally eased off for the last 3 weeks and I was beginning to get back into climbing shape. I was feeling pretty strong going into the weekend and gave Lucas a shout to see if he was keen for Sisyphus, the weather looked good enough and we decided to give it a go.

Being such a long route, one would think getting an early start would have been a smart decision. With that in mind we went to the new Star Trek movie the night before and got to bed around 1:00AM. We got started at 9:18AM, real early with plenty of rest... To go along with our preparation for long routes we knocked back a few sips of water before we left the car, brought one liter of water, a cliff bar each (both had peanuts so Lucas got both...), a micropuff jacket and the bare minimum in climbing gear needed, lightweight or stupid? We knocked off the approach easily enough and were tying in at 10:00, the wind was lapping at us but that didn't hold back our spirits. The first few pitches didn't offer much, a fun enough traverse to open the climb and then we started to get vertical.

The meat and potatoes of this climb comes on pitches 4-11, all being .10c or .10d. We linked as many pitches as we could to speed up the process making these 8 pitches a real good time, nothing like 50m of rope drag at the top of a .10d. Pitches 4-5 offered some technical slab right off the anchor, probably the crux of the entire route. 6-7 was sustained at 10c with some interesting climbing and even more interesting bolting. 8-9 had another crux right off the bat, this time a little more physical which was a nice change in pace. 10-11 was probably the second crux of the climb, and you're getting tired by this point, really technical crimps and feet slowly led you past it though. Once you're through these pitches you're basically home free. We were through them by around 2:00PM. We took a little longer on this section than we would have liked too (didn't help that Lucas hadn't climbed in the past month) but our transitions were fast and we wasted little time there, something to feel good about going forward.

Pitches 12-21 all were 9's or 10a, nothing really challenging but a lot of interesting climbing with great exposure to bring you to the top. If you're unlucky though you'll have some idiots throw rocks off the summit down the climbing routes and you're wide open to be hit on this last section.We only had one idiot when we were on pitch 13 or so throwing rocks, there wasn't many and I'm not sure if they heard me cursing them from below but needless to say it wasn't very PG.

We felt a few raindrops during the last section but it didn't look like the sky was going to open, and with the climbing being easy at this point we didn't consider bailing as going up would be less miserable than rapping. We kept moving up nervously looking at the clouds, even spotting a rainbow once well below us over Grassi Lakes, a great view to see, unless you're on the side of a mountain... But the sky never opened up and we topped out on Ha Ling at 4:30PM, 6.5 hours on route. A quick breather at the summit and a short run down the hiking trail had us back to the car at 5:20PM, 8 hours car to car.

Overall a great climb worth doing and nice ticking off something I considered so far away 3 years ago. A lot of people online complained about the bolting but in reality there was maybe 6 bolts I would move, and they weren't even that bad. Was good to be back on a climb with Lucas again and seeing that our systems and transitions are still on point, looking forward to getting on some bigger climbs with him later this summer!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The North Face of Athabasca

I had just finished a weekend of sport climbing in Skaha on the 8th of May 2016 and was driving back to Calgary so I could catch my flight up north the next day in the early morning. As I was driving through the Rockies I was looking up at all the mountains dreaming of being on an alpine route again. I knew that the Columbia Icefields would be in condition if there were some good freezes, having heard from some friends who were out there two weeks ago. So I checked the forecast and there it was, freezes for a week straight. I texted my friend Alex so we could get to planning our next adventure, in previous outings together we have had long heinous slogs with little to no climbing, or short approaches with brilliant climbing. Alex is a fan of the slogs; I’m a fan of the climbing. So finding something that would appeal to both of us was the challenge.
Finally we settled on the objective of the North Face of Athabasca, a stunning wall of steepening ice which leads you to the final crux rock band at the top of the face. Forecasts were calling for snow midweek, but as long as it wasn’t a large amount the route would be in great shape. I nervously watched the expected snowfall during my work week; at times it was calling for up to 50cm, an amount that would surely cancel our plans. Some areas of the Rockies were hit hard with Yamnuska accumulating over 40cm, but in the icefields only around 15cm fell and with one day of heating before we headed out, anything dangerous would have sluffed off already. Everything was a go, so when I got back in Calgary on Friday evening, I rushed home, packed everything I needed in a flurry and was off to Alex’s place. A quick stop at Pizza 3000 and picking up 7 cliff bars, a pack of candy and some yogurt at Safeway, I had my fuel for the trip and we were off. A few naps later for me had Alex pulling into the trailhead just before 11:00PM, enough time to get a solid 4 hours of sleep before the climb, this made getting up early for my flights up north look like nothing.

3:00AM both of our alarms are going off in the car; this is my least favorite time of any alpine climb. I’m always nervous before a bigger climb and the early morning hours just don’t help. Alex drinks his homemade smoothies, while I put back my yogurt and one of my cliff bars. We were off at 3:30AM walking up the glacier tour bus road before it splits off to head towards our route. Now this is probably my favorite time of the morning; you’ve gotten over the early jitters, you’re awake, and the nervousness begins to go away being replaced by excitement. There was one other party ahead of us, we both reached the glacier at the same time, and luckily they were doing the Silverhorn route so nobody would be getting in each other’s way. Alex and I set off to the glacier first around 6:00AM breaking trail, Alex took the majority of the post holing lead as I was going to be the one leading the route. I’m still not sure who got it easier.
We eventually let the other party lead the post holing near the final crest before our routes split off, and at 8:00AM we were gearing up for the climb, we’d brought 8 ice Screws, a small rack from .5-2 camalots, a set of nuts and a couple pitons. I took everything but one ice screw just in case Alex needed it should I fall into a crevasse. What looked like a short distance to the bergschrund ended up taking forever as the snow deepened the closer we got to the face. At one point I would have described it as climbing sugar, I was using my knees, arms, tools, chest, anything to just struggle up one foot at a time. After way too much effort I was standing beneath the bergschrund trying to decipher a way to get over it and onto the climb. It took a lot of attempts, and some ski tourers who were at Silverhorn were probably wondering what the hell we were doing, but eventually we both managed to get established on the face and began climbing up.

We simul-climbed the entire ice face, hard crust snow coating the face made easy travelling so we solo’d everything but the last hundred feet where the snow disappeared, and tired calves made the idea of having some screws in sound like a good plan. We didn’t have much rope between us, so I was having to place ice screws during this last part more often than I would have liked, and ended up with only one screw at the very top to belay Alex up to me. I had forgotten to grab the extra screw off him once we had passed the bergschrund, something I was regretting at this point. Eventually we were both at the top, with only the crux rock band to go until we reached the summit ridge. We built a proper anchor with the screws Alex brought up, drank a little water, and started looking upwards deciphering which way to go. We scouted a line that went directly above us, it looked like the obvious weakness to attack. It was about 10:30AM at this time.

Off the Belay I placed a screw quickly just to make sure I didn’t fall onto the anchor and then was off. I charged up a short snow slope to the first rock band, it was a small little corner system. I managed to place a bomber pin at the bottom of the rock and started looking for ways to get established in the corner. I eventually found a weakness a couple meters left of the pin that would get me over this band and climbed up over it, struggling with the rope getting caught up in ledges I managed my way over the first band and was looking into the chimney system Alex and I were looking at from the belay.

I scraped away in the middle of the chimney, and there was a tight constriction that I slotted a nut in, it was a big solid one that gave me tons of confidence. I gingerly moved into the chimney, stemming on either side of it, using one tool in the center where there was a small runnel of ice and the other tool hooking on small ledges. Slowly I moved up continuing this patter, stem higher, find a tool placement in the runnel, try to find a secure hook, stand up. It became a game of nerves as I gained more and more height having not placed anything, at points the angle eased off but there still wasn’t gear. Finally after about fifteen meters of climbing I managed to find a great #2 placement. Inspired by this I stood up and kept going, foolishly thinking I was going to find more placements. I got back into my rhythm of climbing and continued slowly moving up. After a while I found another good rest, I must have been climbing for at least half an hour by this point, my calves were on fire from stemming and my arms were getting tired. Alex yelled up at me wondering what was taking so long, he was beginning to get cold, I yelled back “I’m really fucking scared” and went back to my rest. Apparently I stood there for five minutes. Eventually I got going again and found a #1 placement, my fourth piece in about fifty meters. I looked for more gear here hoping to build an anchor but there was nothing, so I continued upwards again. The chimney narrowed on the right side, so I had to jam my right boot in the ice runnel and stem with my left on the wall. Slowly I made delicate after delicate move, after a mind numbing twenty meter runout, again, I finally found a spot for an anchor and could rest. I looked at my watch and it was 12:05PM, I had been going for around 90 minutes.

Alex climbed up quickly, the safety of following the pitch had him loving every move, which looking back on I really did enjoy too. He took 15 minutes to climb what took me 90, but made sure I kept him on “the girlfriend belay”. At the top of the pitch he laughed saying he understood why I was so scared, no wonder it took me so long. We had a short little five meter section of rock to go then I was on the final fifty meters of snow slope to the summit ridge. The sun and safety of the last section had me whooping for joy as I climbed up. I gave Alex a body belay for the final section and soon we were both standing on the top taking summit selfies sometime around 1:00PM and looking at the incredible view eyeing new peaks to climb not even being down from our current one. On the descent I managed to leave my chest pocket open and lost my phone, I debated going backwards for a bit to find it, but tiredness won and we continued going down.

We got back to the car around 5:30PM tired and haggard, and changed into some more comfortable clothes and shoes. My mind was still numb from being on the sharp end the whole day, it matched Alex’s frost nip toes, but we came away with nothing too damaging in the end. A Wendy’s baconator with fries, along with a couple naps, led us back home to Calgary where I could sleep away comfortably, dreaming of my next climb.