August 2011
My fond farewell to the Western Cordillera

Many of these feature Rich, though I've now included some of his photos of me. For more of Rich's photos, see his collections or some select photos from the Valhallas, Revelstoke, Bugs, and Lake Louise.

Click on images to see medium size. Click on title to maximise this page. All images © CPBL unless otherwise stated
This August, for my long-awaited two-week trip to the Bugaboos and their neighbours, I bought a car and secured a similarly-motivated partner, Rich So. We knew each other from some past trips but naturally made sure to fit in a few shake-down climbs in and near Squamish. On the 31st of July, we drove east.
Welcome to the Valhallas. I wonder which line we should climb first?
We met a family of goats on our approach to the South Ridge of Gimli.
The rock is outstanding...
and there are a number of nice pitches.
(Photo: Rich So)
After a visit to Natalie and Jeff's and some sportclimbing in Revelstoke with Lenka, (Photo: Rich So)
... we found ourselves at the infamous Bugaboos parking lot, and accordingly festooned the base of our car with chicken-wire, to protect it from ravenous or devious porcupines.
The walk in is quick! ...
(we didn't free the crux), (Photo: Rich So)
and the setting of Applebee camp is spectacular.
(Photo: Rich So)
We immediately got to work with a quick jaunt up Lion's Way, which is nearly on Applebee's back porch.
(Photo: Rich So)
Early the next morning the continued flawless weather saw us on Bugaboo Spire's NE ridge
... (Photo: Rich So)
where some classic climbing
and a ridge traverse gave us views of our environs (Snowpatch Spire on the left),
including the great Howser massif.
There's always time for a bit of posing when you have Rich nearby as photographer. (Photo: Rich So)
We descended the Kain route (Photo: Rich So)
on Bugaboo Spire (seen here from Pigeon, later)
and hopped over to another classic, Pigeon Spire.
The short romp up Pigeon is enough fun ...
that we had to do it up and down a couple times.
Here Rich hand-jams between rock and snow a dozen metres from the summit,
and here is evidence that I'm not finished my precarious-pose flexibility training. (Photo: Rich So)
Moments after this photo was taken on the descent, I must have lost my sunglasses down that slope. I reclimbed the route two more times looking for them. (Photo: Rich So)
Sunglasses are essential, of course, in this environment, so one improvises. (Photo: Rich So)
Our first visit to the "B-S col" snow climb was the descent that afternoon back to camp.
We were glad we weren't on that slope a little later that evening.
Three days later, after two more days of climbing, and just a week shy of the 50th anniversary of its first ascent, we climbed the beloved Beckey-Chouinard route in a day.
Happily we were the first to start on the route that morning.
Up high, the chimney may be classic, but if it's a bit icy and wet (or trafficky) you may have an excuse to opt for the outstanding fingers and hands crack on its left.
Yes, mid-5.10 glory granite at 3000m with a pack and axe... was pretty memorable.
It wasn't balmy climbing, but the rock and route are deservedly famous.
We finished in good time, and pretty good shape for a week of climbing.
(In better focus than my hands,) Rich had worn right through some tips.
One face move (Rich is traversing left to find a new crack) that must have been a pretty good discovery back in the day,
a short rap that needed some pruning, not reinforcement, (Photo: Rich So)
and then one crappy pitch or so, and a short walking traverse...
brought us to the summit of the South Howser Tower.
(Photo: Rich So)
Down the new 11-station rap route, over the schrund,
and we were homeward bound.
The next day we headed out,
snickering slightly at our luck as the weather changed.
Where next? To the Rockies!
We got some great trail running, and a bit of sport climbing, in around Lake Louise and generally rested up our finger-tips,
(Photo: Rich So)
(Photo: Rich So)
(Photo: Rich So)
before heading in to the Grand Sentinel, which boasts two excellent routes, has fantastically varying and interesting rock, and is, evidently, solid enough!
Steepness made for some fun positions from which to greet one's belayer both on the trad route ...
and on the sport route,
as well as on the summit.
(Photo: Rich So)
(Photo: Rich So)
We had a quick fortuitous rendezvous in Banff. (Photo: Rich So)
Back on the road, back to Revelstoke, where we finished (as on any good road trip) with some silly sportclimbing, this time from the water. (Photo: Rich So)
It was steep, it was bolted, and yes, that's not the sky in the background!
How did you get there, Rich?!
I'll have to find out... (Photo: Rich So)
Fun, Fun, funny! (Photo: Rich So)
We rapelled right into the canoe.
Then there was that bit of silly barefoot deep-water soloing (Photo: Rich So)
(Three things to remember: cross your legs, plug your nose, and hold your glasses.) (Photo: Rich So)
And then we went home. The end.
Thanks, Rich! That was fun.