Showing posts from 2013

Bigg Kidd

The relentless beep-beep-beep of the alarm wormed its way into my dreams. Surely it was still too early to rise and get ready for my morning class, wasn’t it? Slowly, reluctantly, I emerged from the depths of sleep and remembered the backpack full of gear sitting by the front door, the water bottles lined up on the kitchen counter. It was indeed far too early to get up for work, but not too early to rise if we wanted to hit the snow-covered trail below Mt. Kidd by headlamp. It’d been a busy yet lazy fall. Classes and committees at the university seemed to claim more than their usual share of my time, while evenings and weekends were spent writing about last summer’s expedition to Pakistan. I had an uneasy feeling that I was contemplating life instead of living it. The odd thing was, it was largely by choice. When Greg and Nick, visiting from the UK, suggested I join them at the Stanley Headwall, I replied I’d rather sleep in and write, maybe go drytooling for a few hours in the af

You can't always get what you want

A year ago J. and I made the long drive from the Bow Valley to pay a visit to the King of the Rockies. On a crisp, cloudless late September day we climbed Infinite Patience on the Emperor Face, bivied high on the Emperor Ridge, and continued up the gargoyles to Robson's summit in the morning. It was a nearly perfect alpine climbing trip. After all, how often do we get to run up a line on one of the Rockies' biggest faces without dodging a single falling stone? And how often do we get to spend a windless evening camped right on the spine of the mountain. and to top it off, climb squeaky neve up and down and around the feared gargoyles? But however much we get, we always want more. While climbing Infinite Patience, I kept stealing glances toward the centre of the face. There, cutting through a sea of snow-covered rock, a slanting ice couloir beckoned: the line of the Cheesmond-Dick route. The following day, while walking the highwire of the upper ridge, I looked down ribbons of

Seven summits

Whether it's stamps, bottle caps or back issues of Alpinist, people like collecting things. When it comes to summits, there are many lists for an aspiring collector: the fifty-odd eleven-thousanders - we're talking feet here - of the Canadian Rockies, the fourteen eight-thousanders - metres now - of the Himalaya and Karakoram, the Fifty Classics of North America... And if you don't like any of these lists, just pick a mountain range, a unit of height or some other criterion, and come up with your own. Another list popular among peak baggers with a world travelling bent is that of the Seven Summits: the highest peaks on the seven continents. The facts that Eurasia is really one continent or that the high point of Australia is an uninspiring bump poses some problems, but nothing that an arbitrary definition or two cannot take care of. As my Pakistani summer holiday winds down and I hang around Islamabad exploring its dining options and waiting for my flight back home, it oc