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I like being outside if it's nice out. This includes mountain biking, trail running, sailing, climbing, skiing and much more. If you're going on a fun adventure, let me know!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Car failure, Seymour, and Self-propelled ascent of "The Camel"


Chris vs the Camel, originally uploaded by RichSo.

The oringal plan for the weekend was to climb Mount Willson at the southern end of the Clendinning area. Chris Michalak picked me up at 5:45am on Saturday, and then Fred Touche, and we were off towards Squamish, and then the Squamish river valley. We started hearing tapping sounds, and I figured it was just our ski poles tapping against the window. Somewhere between the Ashlu turnoff, and the Elaho turnoff, we heard a really loud bang, so we stopped. Turns out the rear left spring had popped out of place and into the trunk of the Subaru! Luckily the more mechanically inclined Fred and Chris came up with a plan. They took the rubber cap from the right suspension, and rigged that up into the left wheel mount thing. We managed 20km/h on the logging road, and even 100km/h on the highway. Turns out you don't really need suspension on paved roads, it's just a marketing scam.

After getting home, I figured I couldn't waste a sunny Saturday (how many more are left in the year?), so I convinced Jordan that Seymour would be fun and casual, and I've also never done it. It was until I decided to go up the First pump on the way back, and ended up descending some old trails, and seeing a little black bear! Jordan has some nice photos here http://jordan.mpages.org/seymour/

The weather on Sunday was also looking too good to stay at home and do hmwk, so with Chris being carless, we decided to do a self-propelled of the Camel. I was actually hoping to just take the bus, but Chris rather bike, so we meet in Stanley around 7:45 (I was late, and Chris went for Starbucks first). The ride up to the Grouse Mountain parking lot is long and steep, and I was getting slighty trashed. At the parking lot, we had to rush to get onto the Grind, due to fears of it closing for the Annual Grouse Mountain run (like 500 people)! We even contemplated taking the gondola if we couldn't do the grind. For some reason, I thought the rock rack that Chris brought would be heavy, so I took the 60m half rope instead. So up we went at 9am, giving us an hour head start from those hardcore Grinders. It was actually quite quiet on the Grind, (no scenery). Chris caught the Grouse Grind fever early on, and I never saw him again until the top. I was avergaging a measly 8m/min rate of ascent. At the top, I enjoyed my blended coffee, and Chris agreeded to the rope and the rack. Turns out the rack consisted of draws, 3 little nuts, and 4 tricams.

On the trail towards Crown Pass, I started getting pretty bad cramps in my quads. It went away though, which was good. Chris also explained all the types of processers that existed prior to my Pentium 3. I didn't really understand too much of it.

On the way up to Crown from Crown Pass, I had cramps again, so I took an advil. I never saw Chris again until the summit. After a quick break, we followed an easy ledge, but as Fairley puts it "incredibly exposed" ledge, just to the left of Crown. It doesn't feel scary walking across, but if you look at it from the Camel, its just vertical slabs dropping down about 1000ft or more.

The Camel is actually lower in elevation that Crown, which is strange concept in that usually people bring a rope to climb the taller summit from a hiking sub-summit. There was a thick rope for the 20ft section of loose Class 4, which was very useful. Not being strong or burly climbers, and our limited rack, we opted not to climb the slightly overhanging 5.9 finger-fist crack, or the 5.6 offwidth (who would carry a bigbro all the way up! and how did the first ascentionist back in the days climb it? ) .

Chris lead up the 5.2 route on the north side, saying he's done harder scrambles in the last little bit then that. We roped up for the slightly scary traverse across the Camel's hump (we were wearing approach shoes, the rock shoes were in the pack being useless). A rappel off a block took us into the Camel's "neck". To get to the head, there's 8m of 5.0 face climb. Not having climbed in close to 3 months, or leading in the alpine, I figured this was the best way to start. The anchor at the top is a rusty piton, so we downclimbed/belayed back to the neck.

We took the gondola back down, making the trip more multi-modal. You're not really using energy when you hike down something like the Grind, you're just trashing your knees. The bike descent down Capilano Road was very exciting! I was home in East Van by 7:30pm, giving me plently of time for dinner and the Simpsons!

The Camel is fun, but it sure is a long ways to go for 1.5 pitches of rock.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Little Ring Peak


DSC_0004, originally uploaded by RichSo.

From Fairley's guide, "Peak 7400 (2260m/7400ft), located 6.4km/4mi NW of Callaghan and 2.5km SE of Squamish Glacier snout, is known as 'Little Ring Peak'. It has been reached in a day on spring snow from roads on the upper Squamish River and ascended from the southeast side (FA: J. Clarke - 1969).

Its a symmetrical volcanic plug, with steep slopes on all sides.

Fred Touche, Jennifer ?? and I left on a cloudy Sunday morning to attempt Little Ring Peak.

We left North Vancouver at 7am, and drove up to approx Mile 45 on the Squamish mainline. That's about 1.5 hours on a logging road if you're not a rally driver. Back in April, I had slogged down 17km of this road in my skiboots. We saw two black bears along the way, one on BR200, and one past the Elaho bridge.

We were stopped by a enormous avalanche. We couldn't see the source, as it snaked down the valley, probably for 2km or more. At the road, the height of the slide was approx 10m. This happened in the last 3 weeks.

Starting at 10am, we hiked 4km up to the logging road, to the washout where Fred had hoped to drive to. THe weather started going bad at this point, and the sucker holes dissapeared. We crossed a fast flowing creek, and got part of my boots wet. There was a short section of bush through the clearcut, and then up through the trees, until we reached a nice bench to travel on. I put on the snowshoes after the clearcut section. Fred ski-wacked through the clearcut.

We reached the south side of Little Ring Peak at around 2pm. The large avalanches that Fred triggered 3 weeks ago were visible, and scary. We waited for better weather, but all we got was some visibility, but no sun. The traverse across the slope was both scary, and difficult with the stupid snowshoes that I was using. Fred triggered a small sluff in front of me. I also triggered one when I fell. Jennifer said she heard a sluff above her, and I was getting way spooked at this point.

I reached a pinnacle on the east rib. Apparently there's a good gully past this rib, but we didn't see it. Fred had dropped his pack at this point and gone ahead, and then I heard lots of loose rock and snow crashing down just beyond me. Scary ****.

Jennifer and I figured Fred had severe summit fever since this was his second attempt. We took off the snowshoes, and decided to keep going and see it goes. The first scramble up loose volcanic rock was ok, followed by some snow traversing. The last 50m was the hardest, and sluffing from above had covered Fred's tracks. We pushed on, with the slope going from 45 to 55 degree. The first crux was a 10 feet section, with rotten snow covered loose exposed rock. The second crux was a spooky traverse left acorss steep snow (to bypass a cornice), with lots of exposure, and then finally mantelling up to the summit plateau.

We couldn't see anything, but figured we were on top. We took the descent really slowly, especially at those two crux. After getting back to the packs, Fred started skiing, and triggered fairly big, but slow moving (0.5m/s) wet sluff. Jennifer and I decided to get down below the runout zone, but forgot to turn right, and ended up in the direction of the Pemberton Icefields. Luckily, Fred found us before I found our old campsite from April.

On the way back, the weather turned to complete crap, with lots of rain. Somehow, without finding our old tracks, we ended at the exact same spot at the clearcut. Luck?

I fell alot on the snowshoes going up and down (thought that only happens on skis), since the snow was really wet and unstable. We got back to the car at 8:30pm, and back home at 11:30pm (mandatory Wendy's and Tim Horton's stop). I asked Fred and Jennifer later, and apparently this is typical mountaineering. I think on future trips to the mountains, I'm not going to go unless I can take good pictures.

Total Distance: approx 17-18km, 1700m elevation gain.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pemberton Icecap Traverse

Robin Mckillop, Mark Grist, Dave Campbell, Chris Michalak, Fred Touche, and I attempted to traverse east-west across the Pemberton Icecap from South Miller Creek, to Blanca Lakes. Unfortunately, the unseasonable wintery weather forced us to stay in our tents for most of three days while on the main Squamish glacier, so we couldn't quite finish the route. Despite that, we still had fun, smelled bad and farted, had some incredible views on top of Longspur Peak (2575m), and only heard four snowmobilers (tons of tracks though).

April 8-15

Day 1: Left Vancouver at 5:45am with Chris, met Robin in Squamish and dropped off Blinky somewhere on the Elaho road. Drove up to Pemberton, and met the rest of the guys. Robin, dressed in polypro underwear went to the wrong farmhouse and surprised some young lady. We drove up to the first gate, and realized that Scott's handiwork was locked away by the IPP guys. There was a solid chain and padlock preventing us from swinging the gate. The canyon looked scary anyways, so Chris took his toolbook and unscrewed the gate mesh from the gate frame, and we snuck under. The first km's of the road was brutal (for me anyways) since we had to carry our skis. Once we had our skis on, the rest of the road wasn't that bad, and got up to the dam quickly. The next section went through some trees, and river canyon and I was pretty slow going through here. We camped at 4300ft, and noticed some heliski tracks running down big avalanche slopes and cliffs.

Day 2: Weather wasn't that great, with lowlying clouds. After lounging around waiting for slighty better visibility, we started moving, and reached a big lake. THe visibility was still poor, so we couldn't quite see which big gully we were suppose to climb up and over. Eventually Fred led the way with a steep set of switchbacks up a ramp. At the top, we waited around for a bit better weather, and then started moving up towards a col. The weather improved to sunshine (felt like a steam sauna), and Mark, Dave and I even went for a quick yo-yo. The drop down the other side of the col was horrendous for me, and it felt like water skiing at times. The view was phenomenal, and sluffing was occuring everywhere (including a small one that went over Mark's tracks). After using various survival skiing techniques, I managed to catch up and we camped at the bottom of the glacier, around 5300ft?. Another strenous day.


Pemberton Icecap Traverse April 2006 049

Skiing into the mist


Day 3: We traversed along a ridge, and then dropped down to the valley bottom through crusty snow in the trees. Then we climbed up 400m to our lunchspot on some rocks. This was followed by another drop down to a valley, and another 400m up a big scary slope. Towards the top of this slope, the weather started getting wintery. We dropped down from the col and finally got onto the Appa glacier, where we camped. At least 10cm fell in about 2 hours, but then it cleared up completely. Robin summited some unnamed peak, and the rest of the guys went for a yo-yo. Fred made the first bootie ascent of some little peak in the distant.

Day 4: We woke up to amazing views, and before long, the sound of the world's largest mosquito. I went with Mark for a quick pre-breakfast yo-yo. Then we packed up camp, climb up a ridge, and dropped down to the east? face of Longspur Peak. We dropped our packs, and skiied most of the way up, and then bootpacked up a 50deg slope to the summit. Views were panoramic. The ski down was amazing but tiring (400m?), on 25-35deg pitches, in 10-15cm of fluff on top of a solid base. I even managed to link some teleturns. We continued across the Appa glacier, and then dropped down some slushy snow to the Soo Glacier. While slogging across the blazing hot Soo Glacier, we saw two snowmobiliers up high sitting around. We hoped that they wouldn't think we were caribou and shoot us. There were tons of snowmbiler tracks everywhere, basically a highway. At the end of the Soo glacier, we took off our skins, and had an awesome run down into the valley beyond. I think Fred accidently made a 180 turn here and dissapeared for a while. We climbed up another 400m to get onto the the main Squamish? glacier, and slowly skied across to our campsite somewhere on col. Robin dug a kitchen with a commanding view of the glacier, worthy of the frontpage of "Backcountry kitchen's and crafts". We noticed sundogs and lenticular clouds.

Pemberton Icecap Traverse April 2006 161

Day 5: Storm Day!. Snowfall and high winds started during the night. The winds gusted up to 70km/h. Around 2-3pm, the weather cleared up, and we moved 1km eastward and then the weather crapped out again. We debated whether this was just showers, or a full on system.

Day 6: Storm Day!. The snow and wind didn't let up at all during hte night, and visibility is poor in the morning. We're starting to get worried, especially Robin who has to catch a flight on Sunday. We start to talk about possible escape routes, and conserving fuel and food. Parts of the afternoon was spent discussing computational fluid mechanics and stock market trading. Everything time the wind shifted or when the sun tried to poke out, we would make comments about what the weather was doing.

Pemberton Icecap Traverse April 2006 009

The tent getting buried.


Day 7: Storm Day!. By lunchtime today, we had spent most of 60 hours in a tent. Fred was getting tired of sitting around, so we decided to pack up and escape via the Squamish River in the poor weather condition. We moved south through 60-70cm of fresh powder down the Squamish Glacier, and then climbed up to a col east of little ring peak. to camp. Temperatures were wintery, around -10C, and snowfall still didn't stop.

Day 8: Robin and Mark left earlier at 7am to break trail, and we followed shortly. Eventually we got up to a pass near Ring Peak, and dropped down through heavy snow into the trees. We expected the tree section to last much longer, but the lower parts were clearcutted. The sunny views of the headwater of the Squamish River was quite nice, and noticed that the Exodus Peak and Blanca Lakes area was socked in. From here, we had 25km on logging roads. We managed to ski the upper parts, hiked 13km, and Fred did the last 8km in about one hour. While waiting for Fred at hte bottom, various people came by, and one person thought we were sitting down by the Squamish river because we were waiting for snow! A tight squeeze of 6 smelly skiers into Blinky followed, and I eventually got home at 12am.

A classic Coast Mountain spring traverse experience.

Pemberton Icecap Traverse April 2006 036

Waiting in the rain for Fred to retrieve the car.