Showing posts from May, 2011


Spring in the Rockies is an interesting time. It can suck, as the monsoon descends and turns rock into a seeping mess and snow into desperate mush. But it can also be brilliant, with dry rock in the front ranges and crisp conditions in the alpine. Right now we seem to be entering the monsoon phase (though the Lookout was pretty good this weekend), but last week was a different matter. *** Yamnuska Going up on Yam for the first time in the season feels like coming home: the sorting of gear in the parking lot, the hike up the switchbacks below the face, the hours spent navigating the maze of grey and yellow rock, the quick run down the backside, and then one more route because it is spring and there is still lots of daylight left. There is a reassuring familiarity about the whole affair but also some anxiety, as befits a big limestone cliff. Last weekend Gery Unterasinger and I inaugurated the Yam season with two of my favourites: Yellow Edge, and Jimmy and the Cruisers. Some might d

Rammstein and mixed climbing

What does one have to do with the other? They are both about metal, stone and melodrama. Raph Does Thriller Cave from Wiktor Skupinski on Vimeo . March 2009 in the Thriller Cave. Last Friday in Edmonton.


I pull over a bulge and come face to face with the serac capping the route. It is not really nasty as far as such things go, but still leans past vertical like a frozen breaking wave. Fortunately a stream of water ice pours out of a crack in the serac wall, and allows a merely vertical passage out of the shadowed world below into the sunshine playing on the windblown snow just above. I am glad I am spared carving placements out of the old, hard glacier ice; getting sticks in the cold water ice is hard enough. As the angle of the ice kicks back I pick up my pace, hooking cracks in the surface of the glacier, running for the top. The top? Actually the summit of the mountain is still hundreds of snow-choked metres above, but a flat glacial bench will do. From here, if we wanted to, we could go left and walk down a snow couloir , or go right and downclimb the glacier tongue. We do neither, as we drill the first abalakov and slide down the ropes, but it is the principle that matters. On the