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.
On Friday, August 19th I was joined by the indefatigable Phil Richards and Wietse Bylsma for another longish day trip in the Canadian Rockies. After two previous off-trail adventures to Breaker and Molar, Phil and I decided that it was time for a mostly on-trail objective. We settled on The Monarch, located between Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park and Kootenay National Park in British Columbia.
There are some mountains that really stir my gut when I think about doing them. For some reason Molar Mountain has been one such peak ever since I first saw a trip report and the corresponding stunning photographs from Andrew Nugara back in 2007. Without a doubt this is a top favorite scramble for me and worth every ounce of suffering that reaching it's summit might entail.
A wonderful off-trail scramble to a rarely visited and rarely seen area of Banff National Park, hidden high above Mistaya Lake and nestled between peaks on the Great Divide that runs between Alberta and BC. The Capricorn Lake area is a magical place of rushing streams, brilliantly colored lakes and soaring snow and ice covered mountains.
A 16 day father / son wilderness canoe trip into the heart of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. We traveled around 140km in two loops from Onnie Lake through Glenn, Haven and Mexican Hat and then Telescope, Hatchet, Douglas and back to Onnie Lake. For the first 12 days we were just with the two of us. The last 4 days we joined up with a group of friends to finish our adventure in good company.
I was happy with the outcome of Friday's scramble up Devil's Thumb and instantly began planning another objective for Sunday. As the weekend progressed, the weather deteriorated for the Bow Lake area and soon the date slipped to Monday. Kaycie and I agreed that we'd get up at 04:45 and try to be off the mountain by around noon - hopefully beating the mad holiday weekend traffic rush from the mountains to YYC.
If you've read my Cockscomb Mountain trip report, you should not be surprised that it's been weeks since my last summit! I jest. Although my mountain mojo was a bit depleted in June / July, this isn't the real reason I haven't summitted a mountain in the last 7 weeks.
Cockscomb Mountain has a few things going for it. No matter how many peaks you've done, as long as it's more than one, you will have a best one and a worst one. I never have to worry about encountering my worst one now - I've apparently just done it. Another thing in Cockscomb's favor is that I will never ever, ever, ever have to repeat it.
A fantastic backpacking trip with river crossings, bushwhacking, snowshoeing, sleeping on snow and incredible views of huge peaks including Mount Columbia and Bryce. I think that deserves a trip report even if it didn't result in a 'real' summit. I am 100% comfortable with claiming the grid reference we summitted near camp, considering how much sweat-effort it was to attain! ;)
After scrambling Prairie Bluff in the morning, we found ourselves with plenty of time for a short objective on our way to setting up camp for the night at the Beaver Mines Recreation Area in the Castle Wilderness. I had a trip report on Mount Backus from Bob Spirko who snowshoed it in March of 2014. Backus was located along the highway leading to Beaver Mines, so it made perfect sense to try it.
After squandering a perfectly good weekend, followed by a disappointing May long weekend, I was more than ready for some time away from the rat race in Calgary by the time the last weekend of May rolled around. Both my kids were also ready for a break and with Hanneke home studying and writing assignments, we decided that a two day trip to the Castle / Crown area was just the ticket for us.
I've been dreaming of climbing the highest peak in Banff National Park and 8th highest in the Canadian Rockies for many years. I'm not 100 percent sure when I first laid eyes on the hauntingly beautiful northwest face and dramatic summit pyramid of Mount Forbes but I do know that it probably terrified me the first few times I looked at it.
I wasn't sure that I would manage to summit my last 11,000er on the main Columbia Icefield in the spring of 2016. Rumors were flying around that the Athabasca Glacier approach was toast this year thanks to an extremely warm winter / spring combined with low snow and an serac event that covered the route I've always used through the headwall with tons of ice and snow earlier in the year.
After approaching the Hargreaves Shelter at Berg Lake the day before via a long slog involving carrying our skis and skinning on mud, gravel and scree we were pretty bagged. After a party of 5 joined us in the shelter (quite late) we managed a few hours of restless sleep but way too soon Ben was waking us up.
Thrift Peak has been on my radar for a while now, it was cemented as an objective while on a drive back from Cabin Ridge (Twin Peaks) with Wietse in November of 2015. I didn't even realize this was the Livingstone Fire Lookout until doing some research later! There are three approaches to this summit...