Showing posts from July, 2019


Next month will be twenty-four years since I first climbed the north face of Athabasca. There are far bigger and harder ice faces in the Rockies, but that particular shield of snow and ice, capped by a layered cake of rotten limestone, has got to be the most classic. The glacier-draped north aspect of the peak adorns countless postcards, but the view of it driving south on the Parkway is no less sublime for that.  Erol Altay, with whom I took some of my first steps on vertical ice in the city-park like surroundings of Starved Rock two hours west of Chicago, had flown west for a couple of weeks. We kicked off his trip in rock shoes on Yamnuska, changed into crampons for the Ice Bulge on the north face of Fay, then headed up the Parkway intent on Athabasca. Back in 1995 Rockies’ ice faces were still a reasonable proposition in August, not the ugly, scarred things they tend to become by late summer these days.  Plastic boots and Footfangs on our feet, Pulsars in our hands, we ki