Wednesday, April 1, 2009

K-Country Snowshoe

The avalanche conditions around Xmas were pretty bad leaving us with valley bottoms as the only safe place to play in the snow. The night before, we were looking at the map and thinking that we might go to the base of Black Prince Cirque but stop there due to avi probability. We didn't go there but that day, the upper slope of Black Prince went class 3. It would have been cool to see it but predicting the danger was reassuring.
Instead we parked at the Lower Kananaskis Lake lot and marched north in a pleasant quarter day loop. Sandwiches and a thermos of coffee rounded out the day. Crossing the lake with massive gusts of snowy wind added just enough "I'm lost at the north pole" to make the coffee more enjoyable.

-Suz sprints up a hill

Opal range makes a pleasing backdrop

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mt Allan

At the time of posting, its now technically springtime which means I must finish off trip reports as the climbing season begins anew. The last trip of 08 was a solo trip I did up to Mt Allan in the Kananaskis corridor. At left is my route in google earth along with a ruler made of 14 Bessborough hotels for scale comparison for Saskatoon readers.

The trip starts off the #40 at the Ribbon Creek day use area and follows a network of switchbacking ski trails and goat tracks. After negotiating the maze the trail emerges from the trees and starts a pretty steep and relentless pitch following the ridge to Olympic summit.

Taking a breather on the ridge crest looking towards the north.

After gaining a thousand meters in elevation, the winds picked up made being exposed on the edge of a knife blade ridge rather unpleasant. I ran into two guys beating a retreat from the summit of Allan who reported wind snow and cloud. And so rather than fight for elevation only to be socked in with no view, I enjoyed the summit of Olympic and left the high traverse to Mt Allan for better weather.

View from Olympic summit south to Mt Kidd and the ribbon Creek valley.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Opal Ridge South

Made this attempt on Opal Ridge back in October 08. Opal ridge is the eastern wall that forms the north half of the Kananaskis valley. Its characteristic razor sharp ridge line makes it easily identifiable. Apart from the view down the Kananaskis corridor, one of the selling points of this trip is you can park your car at the gas station and treat yourself to a hot coffee and an Eatmore if you feel you deserve it.

Pic above shows route from gas station following power line and up north side of gully

View looking south from atop first set of shale cliffs. Topography forms huge wind funnel.

Looking west over highway 40 towards Mt Inflexible.

The wind steadily increased until it reached a force that made stable footing difficult. I shot this short video on a flat terrace where I hid on the lee side of a rock. Without that windbreak I would have easily been blown right off the slope. For those unfamiliar with high alpine trees, they're as stiff as metal and the fact that you can see them moving indicates a hurricane force wind. Video best viewed with sound to appreciate the force of the wind!

It became obvious that the wind was not going to allow me to continue safely so I made a retreat, down-climbing short cliff bands in between the huge gusts that made my heart pound pretty fast. Even the drive out of the valley was pretty sketchy with the car getting hammered by cross gusts. This route has some fun climbing and the views at the top that I didn't get to enjoy all conspire to ensure a return trip in 09.