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[TR] Canadian Rockies Melange - 6/11/2012

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Trip: Canadian Rockies Melange -


Date: 6/11/2012


Trip Report:

After Ryan recalled an aphorism he had recently heard, “[you should] always drink your best,” this became an appropriate theme for our recent road trip to the Canadian Rockies.


With an iffy forecast for the week creating uncertainly about our plans, Ryan Lurie, Eric Wehrly, and I arrived Monday night at the Icefields Centre just in time to sneak a peak at Athabasca and Andromeda in the fading light.




What would either become a warmup for some bigger objectives (if the weather cooperated), or our “best” of the trip we selected the ultra-classic, if strong, offering of Skyladder on Mt. Andromeda to pair with the mellow forecast for Tuesday.


Considerations of sun effect on a not-yet-ripe snowpack necessitated a 0330 start. These opulent schemes are often best consumed early and bleary-eyed.












Skyladder. What sparkle and energy! Inviting and impressive for the purity of its position. Clean and focused, a chalklike texture riding a firm structure. There’s fine clarity, extraordinary balance and finesse without sacrificing an ounce of power. Best from May through June.














After a rest day Wednesday to sleep off our hangovers and watch the forecasted weather roll in, we concluded a change of venue was necessary to escape les nuages sur l’horizon.


Yamnuska is often described as the birthplace of Canadian mountaineering - for a good reason. These steep expressive cracks, textured faces, and questionable holds and blocks will get your ass in shape for the mountains. No doubt.




The Forbidden Corner. This complex 10-pitch 5.9, pioneered in the ‘60’s, gets better and cleaner with age. This ripe, slightly exotic line offers a bit of everything, including a quite spicy and runout rightward traverse on pitch 8. This is full-value 5.9. Full-bodied, big, and chewy. Yet there’s so much underneath.








Retour northward to catch another weather window with excellent potential. Thursday night was spent at the Mosquito Creek Hostel on the Icefields Parkway where we availed ourselves of the hostel’s rustic wood-burning sauna. Punctuating our heat-absorption session with trips to the icy creek.


Conditions for the next day would be interesting. The cold rain all evening and night felt like Western Washington in January.


Athabasca N. Glacier.


With hopes of skiing the N Face of Athabasca dwindling upon realizing how much new snow had fallen over the night, we pushed up the N Glacier to get a better look.








I concluded the Face wasn’t in the cards for me this day and begged out to ski the fresh powder on the glacier. Eric and Ryan took a closer look but after observing deep ski penetration, active wind loading, and evidence of spontaneous slide activity they joined me in my gluttony.








Two laps on the N Glacier was a superb conciliation. Tasted like candy, in a good way; gliding effortlessly to the lingering finish. The aftertaste is like a buttery croissant, staying bright and focused. Best consumed now.


Our bigger objectives in the range will have to wait for other attempts with better forecasts; but what a successful trip as an expression of our epicurean search for those turns and movements that, like waves in surfing, recreate the rhythm of human life and frees us from the pain of humanity.




Always drink your best.




*All photos courtesy of Mr. Ryan Lurie


Gear Notes:

Beaujoulais, Pale Ale, Bourbon.


Approach Notes:

Refreshingly Easy

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Nice Pete! I see you drug the E$ Baller along for the ride. Looks bootiful.

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Skyladder was my first alpine ice climb in the Canadian Rockies, now it's a ski run :laf::cry: Then again the ski conditions were bad in August if I remember right.


Nice photos

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Nice! I drove the parkway with my kids last year, nice to see the different perspective in your pics.

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Nice to do the Skyladder with skis! Everything looks very snowy, since I've done those routes only in August!

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