It's a been awhile since I've been out with my friend, Ben Nearingburg - great times on Mount King Edward - but he has just completed his incredible 5.5 record push to complete all the 11,000ers in the Canadian Rockies! This is an amazing feat and beats Nancy Hansen's previous record by 2 years. This would already be a helluva thing on its own but Ben made it much more difficult by refusing to use mechanical assistance (i.e. helicopter) for any of these peaks, including the most remote and his last one, Mount Tsar. He even managed to climb another very remote giant and one of only four Rockies peaks over 12,000 feet, twice - Mount Clemenceau. I really don't think most people can understand the level of commitment and pure drive an accomplishment like this takes. 6 or 7 years ago, Ben hadn't even worn crampons as far as I know! He practiced his climbing skills both indoors and out, including a ton of ice climbing last winter to prepare for climbs such as Robson and The Helmet. He made himself into an alpinist through sheer will and drive and practice.
All I can say is WOW. Congrats man, you've managed to do something that will be very hard to best, and in a world of very driven and competitive people you're one of the nicest mountain folks I know which makes your accomplishment even sweeter. You can read all about Ben's many incredible climbs and adventures at his website, BenThereClimbedThat.ca.
After a couple of very long and full days spent on a 5th recorded ascent of Mount McConnell, deep in the heart of Banff National Park, Phil Richards and I awoke at 05:00 on Friday morning, August 17 2018 with tired bodies and minds, unsure of our abilities to ascend another peak before exiting.
Mount McConnell is one of those peaks that got onto my mountain list somehow and just stayed hovering somewhere near the top of it but never seemed to actually get done. Why was it on my list? As one of the most remote and hard to access peaks in Banff National Park with a summit over 10,200 feet high, it is rarely done (we were only the 5th recorded ascent) and gets the explor8ion juices flowing.
After completing an 11 day canoe trip in the NW wilderness of Ontario, I was ready for a good dosage of Rockies scenery again on Monday, August 13 2018. There was a huge issue with this plan though. Wildfires in British Columbia, one province to the west, were once again conspiring to ruin lungs and views throughout the Rockies.
Phil and I felt a wee bit burned out after our monster approach and scramble of both Brussilof and Alcantara the day before and we both wanted to turn off our brains and do something a bit easier than our originally planned 1.5 days on Mount Eon. We decided pretty quickly to do the hike into Marvel Pass and check out some of the scrambles around there.
After a successful, and fun, ascent of Mount Brussilof we almost had to take advantage of good weather and a shared col to ascend Mount Alcantara's south ridge. Previous parties have used easy SW scree slopes to ascend Alcantara, but the south ridge looked absolutely fantastic from Brussilof and was a no-brainer for us to attempt, considering where we found ourselves late in the afternoon of July 20, 2018.
I've had Mount Alcantara and Brussilof on my peak list ever since reading about them in Rick Collier's trip report on Bivouac. They sounded huge, remote and challenging - especially Brussilof. I was very excited to finally tackle these two mountains and it made sense to plan a bivy to give us two full days to tackle them both if necessary.
After getting a request from Grant Myers to scramble Mount Potts (we couldn't get the timing right) and also after looking at it on our approach to Mount Denny earlier in 2018, it was on my radar for an ascent at some point this year. Kane describes this peak as "much more difficult than Denny" and even suggests combining it with that peak for a long two peak day.
Friday the 13th would be a solo outing for me and I was really looking forward to it. There's nothing quite like enjoying a whole mountain all to yourself. Canada must be a bit unique in this sense. You can park in the ditch along a busy highway and within 10 minutes of the road you're on your own. All alone.
As you can read in the "interesting facts" note above, Simpson Peak is, well, interesting. Maybe not as interesting as it's neighbor, Simpson Ridge, or "Mount Edmonton", but it has its own charms including the fact, of course, that its officially unnamed and I'm sure we're one of maybe two or three parties at most who've bothered standing on its summit.
As of July 2018, Simpson Ridge had been on Phil and my peak hit list for more than a few years already. Little did we know as we planned our trip, that this remote and largely ignored ridge had such an interesting first ascent and history behind it and even less did we know just what adventures our planned route would entail. But this is exactly what explor8ion is all about!
While standing on many of the peaks lining the Sunshine Meadows area in Banff National Park, one's eyes are naturally drawn towards the line of summits from Howard Douglas in the north to Fatigue and Golden Mountain in the south towards Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park in British Columbia. Right in the middle of all of these fairly significant peaks on the Continental Divide lies an unnamed peak at just over 2900m high.
On a beautiful sunny, wintry May 1, 2011 I was joined by Raff and Mel on a ski trip through Sunshine Meadows to Citadel Pass and up Citadel peak. I repeated the peak again on a much less wintry, but also much cloudier day on June 29, 2018 as part of a three peak extravaganza with Phil Richards that included Fatigue, Citadel and Golden Mountain.
As we traversed to the summit of Mount Currie, my eyes were immediately drawn to a distinctive ridge running west of Currie, lower down and guarding Cross Lake (which wasn't visible from our vantage). This ridge was obviously connected to Mount Currie and it looked to be very reasonable to traverse it before descending past Cross Lake to the historic White Man's Pass.
After our trip up Mount Morrison and Owl Peak earlier in the week, Phil and I had been thinking (obsessing?) about its supposedly "easy" neighbor to the SW - Mount Currie. This might seem strange to some folks, but Phil and I don't just love peakbagging, we love getting to peaks that are not done very often and are remote and somewhat challenging to access. For us it's about the backcountry experience as much as the summit.
After being only the 6th summit party in the last 31 years to stand on Mount Morrison's peak, Phil and I somewhat reluctantly turned our attention to our next destination - Owl Peak. We were only reluctant because we didn't see how the day could get any better than it had already been!
Wednesday, June 20 was shaping up to be a pretty nice day in the Rockies. When Phil texted me and mentioned that he was going to attempt a long-planned traverse over Mount Morrison to Owl Peak and Lake I was intrigued enough to book the day off and join him on this venture. Ever since skiing Mount Turner in April of 2017 my stoke for Morrison had increased 10-fold.