Photos are a funny thing. Whether they are in the steady stream of social media or buried in your personal library, there is usually a story behind them. Maybe it’s a story of struggle, or maybe it was a simple moment inspired by the surroundings. Either way we usually don’t get the full story just looking at the picture. I thought I’d share the backstory behind a few Insta images.
This pic was taken on day 3 of my ACMG ski exam in the Lake Louise area. The plan was to go up Cathedral Mountain. It’s a classic tour with breathtaking scenery perched on the continental divide. I had never been to Cathedral so my mind was filled with beta from peers and descriptions from guidebooks. My lead went well as we climbed through the steep trees, I was feeling confident but knew the crux of the day was coming up. As we came into the alpine my concern was that the new snow and strong winds the night before had formed windslabs. As we approached the large slopes guarding the summit ridge of Cathedral I left my group in a safe spot so I could do a test profile. The results were not good; the 50-60cm deep slab was reactive. Suddenly my stress levels were up and I made the hard but responsible decision to back off of our objective. Part of that stress came from the new question: “What now?”
Because it was still my lead I wanted to explore a few options for good, safe shredding while we were up there. We hit a cool line down the east gullies until no more could be had. After another quick tour back up to the plateau I scoped a couloir that many people bootpack up. It wasn’t gnarly but it wasn’t mellow. Either way I was stoked to be in terrain like this on my exam. As I dropped in I was at ease and the stress of the past few months of training and working was slowly leaving me. This shot reminds me of that feeling.
This one is an oldie, capturing the very beginning of an epic day. Five or so years ago I blindly jumped into a helicopter with 4 good buds. I knew the plan was to drop in the South Selkirks and do a day traverse back to the TransCanada out Flat Creek. What I wasn't clear on was how many summits we would tag while we toured to the highway. Stability was good and our crew was strong. Once the heli left us we summited Faith with a quick bootpack and the race against time began. The run off Faith led us to an uptrack to Charity, followed by an ascent up to the summit of Hope. From the top of Hope we stared down a 6000' run to the Incomappleux Valley. The huge descent took us through a variety of different terrain and snow quality. Once at the bottom of the valley the magnitude of where we were and how far we had to go set in. We had a choice to go direct for Flat Pass and hump down the valley or go for our 4th and possibly 5th summit for the day. It was a surprisingly easy decision despite the time of day. Dave powered up and punched a trail another 4000' up to the summit of Patience. The plan was to try to gain Fortitude as well, however reality set in. It was near sunset, we had summited 4 mountains, climbed 10000' and walked well over 20 km. We were all fulfilled with the day's accomplishments, and still had a 2 hr valley slog in the dark to reach the highway.
Room With a View...
The simplicity of a moment is often what makes an image so memorable. Waking up at the Asulkan Hut has its benefits. Watching the spectacular display of light, I wondered, why don't I spend more mornings here?
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