April 23, 2004
Put up my last set of pictures.
April 12, 2004
I've held you all in suspense long enough -- here's the details of our final expedition (with more pictures yet to come!):
We left for the Lower Hopkins Valley with all our wordly belongings and a couple maps to our destinations: Mount Strauchon and the Dasler Pinnacles. For the assualt on these two peaks we'd split into two groups, each one to complete a peak, meet back at base camp and then swap objectives. My group elected to do Moun Strauchon first.
Despite our best efforts on our nice hike to Broderick Hut or mountaineering boots got wet during the last stream crossing. But alas, there was a wood stove at the hut so we could partially dry out our boots before heading up into the snow line the next day. Upon awakening from the cold tent the next morning, I stumbled into the nice, warm hut expecting a warm breakfast to greet me.. instead I found that everyone else had slept through the alarm clocks and were fast asleep. Once we did get out the door however, we beat our estimations and were still up on Broderick Pass on schedule (despite our delayed departure)! Unfortunately from this vantage point we could see that summitting Mount Strauchon before our fast-approaching turn-around time was unlikely at best. Thus we turned out gaze towards Mount MacKenzie. Ahhh finally an acheivable objective! Or so we thought.. once up on the glacier we were turned back by massive crevasses.
The next day consisted of hiking back to base camp and meeting up with the other group whom had successfully summitted the Dasler Pinnacles. Congrats!
The weather forecast that night warned of "marginal weather" (rain and gale-force winds). Thus we decided against continuing our original plan and went chasing the sunshine in the van and rock climbing for the next 4 days. Which was quite awesome as we saw some great crags and even managed to get in another multi-pitch!
The last day of the course consisted of cleaning and sorting gear, a debrief and a fun banquet (with a little awards ceremony to boot!), some pool playing and then hanging out together at the chalet to all hours of the night. An awesome ending to an awesome course!
Good luck to everyone on their future (and current) endeavours! As for me, I'm typing this from my cubicle at work... my how fast one's life totally switch directions!
April 7, 2004
It's all over! Really tired and not feeling well today however, so I'll write an update about the expedition later.. for now you'll have to be satisfied with another set of new pictures.
March 27, 2004
We're already finished with our kayaking section.. only the expedition is left! How time flies.. During the past week we've paddled the Clutha, Hawea and the mighty Makarora. Awesome times! Check out the kayaking pictures!
March 22, 2004
Another set of new pictures!
Whitewater kayaking is going well.. most of us have (somewhat) reliable rolls going!
March 20, 2004
Just a quick update.. we're now on the whitewater kayaking section and all is groovy.. many of us can already do rolls and the rest aren't far behind! Whee!
On our last day off Lindsay and I went and climbed a lovely 3-pitch route call "Turn On Tune In Drop Out" (a 17*** route at "Little Big Wall" near Wanaka). Put up our pictures from the trip too! (Mine and Lindsay's)
March 16, 2004
Another section of the course is now behind us -- this time it's the mountaineering section. We spent 8 days up on the Tasman Glacier doing all kinds of sweet stuff: rope systems, rescue techniques, anchor building, glacier travel, route planning, weather forecasting, etc.. while up there we had a nice variety of weather. Everything from cloudless, sunny days to hut-bound days due to heavy rain and 120 km/h winds! Although we had enough nice weather to allow us to summit two peaks -- Hochstetter Dome (2827m) and Mount Aylmer (2699m). Very cool stuff!
There's also (as usual) a bunch of new pictures up: Mine, Carolyn's, Lisa's, Tommy's
March 7, 2004
More new pictures are up: Mine, Rob's and Carolyn's. Enjoy!
March 6, 2004
The rock climbing section is now over. :( We spent 3 days in Dunedin climbing at this cool crag that is RIGHT ON THE BEACH!!! So cool! Do some climbs -- go for a swim.. ahh, that's the life for sure!
So today was our first day off from climbing all week and what do we do? Borrow a couple ropes and go climbing at a local crag! Ahh yeah... did some not-too-hard sport leads and then top-roped a cool (but pumpy) arete.. there's also a relatively easy multi-pitch route (2 pitches) there which we're hoping to hit up tomorrow (it was busy all day today).
Our next section -- the alpine section -- starts on Monday and we'll be flying up to a hut on Mount Cook for that.
March 1, 2004
Just had our second day of rock climbing today! Yesterday we went and climbed at a local crag in Queenstown, and today we stayed local in Wanaka. Pretty good stuff though, especially for those that haven't climbed much before as today everyone was sport leading routes! Great weather today too! Tomorrow we're staying local again, and then it's off to Dunedin for 3 days.. apparently there's some nice climbs there right on the beach -- perfect!
February 27, 2004
Phew! Just got back from a 6-day backpacking trip (or "tramping" as they call it over here). It rained pretty consistantly for the first 3-days, but that was balanced out by the amazing weather we had for the last 3-days. We surmounted a variety of obstacles -- river crossings, bad weather, steep climbs, sand flies -- but we managed to prevail against it all.
Up next is the rock climbing section, and we're currently on a couple of days off. So as usual I spent way too long in the internet cafe and put up TONS of new pictures (brought to you by me (unfortunately my camera is acting up and likes to take out-of-focus pictures now), Rob and Lisa).
February 18, 2004
I made it!!! After 3 long days of travelling we finally just arrived in Wanaka -- it seems like a super wonderful town and I'm psyched to be spending 6 weeks down here! Anyhow, It's almost Happy Hour, but I'll write more tomorrow on yet another day off..
February 13, 2004
Oooh, it's Friday the 13th... play safe today! And Happy Valentines Day to everyone tomorrow!
Just got back yesterday from our ski-mountaineering trip on the Wapta Glacier! It was an amazing trip! We first went up to Bow Hut and spent a night there.. the next day we traveresed the glacier to get to Peyto Hut, but took a couple hour break on the way to practice crevase rescues -- throwing yourself off a ledge and trusting the rest of the rope team to catch you was pretty exhilarating!
The next day we went up to the col directly north of Mount Baker and descended onto the Baker Glacier (which had some fantastic skiing!).. the day after we summited Rhondda North and then traveresed the glacier again and returned to Bow Hut. The last day we had a nice ski back down to the van.
This trip was soooo good! The views were breath-taking, and the weather couldn't have been better! Tomorrow I'm going to hang out in Banff with Mike, and then on Sunday we're flying off to New Zealand! Pretty excited to finally go there and check it out!
There's also two sets of new pictures up, so go check them out!
February 6, 2004
Got back from our backcountry ski trip to Roger's Pass yesterday! Initially we were heading up towards the Bostock Pass, but had to head back out after the first day as one of our group members was having leg problems and needed to go home. After seeing them safely off home on the bus, we headed back out, but this time to the Illecillewaet Campground. Once there, we proceeded to build ourselves some snow shelters to sleep in. Despite the fact that the guides' shelter collapsed on him, we continued to build ours unafraid. All-in-all it took a couple hours of work to pile all the snow and then dig it out, but once it was done we had a nice little home for ourselves (I was in a group of three). The show shelters, if built correctly, can be quite warm! Ours was about -1 Celcius inside, while the temperature was around -15 outside!
Anyhow, after spending the first night in our shelter, we headed off towards Lookout Col. While we didn't quite get there in time, we did have a great day of digging snow pits (for checking the avalanche hazard) and some awesome powder skiing! Unfortunately we noticed that we were having significantly more difficulty getting into and out of our snow shelter. Upon further inspection it was due to the fact that the roof had sunk down by a foot or so. Despite this, we slept in it again that night.
The next morning we woke up and found that the roof had sunk yet another foot or so -- time to get out of there! Thus we moved all our stuff into the nearby cook shelter and took off for another day of awesome powder. That afternoon a few of us skied back out and picked up a bunch of tents as we weren't the only group with sagging shelters. While the tent wasn't as warm, it was nice to be able to sleep without worrying if the roof will collapse on you during the night.
The final day we packed up, skied out and went skiing at another slope right near the Roger's Pass Info Centre. An awesome way to end the day.. even stopped at a nice little cafe in Field on the way back (which I'd previously been to on my cross-Canada bike trip!). Anyhow, there's a slew of new pictures up, so go check them out!
January 30, 2004
I'm now a certified WFR'er! As is the rest of the Yamnuska group! It's now okay to hurt ourselves as we know the others can fix us. Aside from that, we also did some more avalanche course-work yesterday. Today is our day off, and then we're off for some back-country skiing at Roger's Pass! Gonna build us some snow caves! :>
Peace out y'all!
January 24, 2004
Just been doing some more first aid since my last writing. We've now covered all 6 of our wilderness protocols (stopping CPR, removal of impaled objects, reduction of dislocations, removal of c-spine, and the administration of epinepherine for severe asthma and for analphalaxis), and we're having a night simulation tomorrow night -- should be cool! I really enjoyed the one I did when I was living in Vancouver..
A bunch of us also went bouldering at the local gym last night. Nice to get out and do something energetic again! They even had some indoor dry-tooling routes -- crazy!
But the real reason I'm updating is to say: check out my pictures! I've spent a bunch of time at this internet cafe getting them online so the least you could do is look! :P
January 20, 2004
Two days into the WFR course already.. personally I find it kinda simple so far (thanks to my 3 years of St. John Ambulance training!), but it must be going quite fast for people with little-to-no previous first aid experience.. Anyhow, so far we've done CPR, AR, Scene Assesment, Primary Survey, Secondary Survey (including using a blood-pressure cuff), talked about the respiratory/circulatory systems and done a bunch of scenarios.
Today we nipped into town during lunch and I bought a pair of brand new mountaineering boots! I got the Garmont Pinnacle GTX for about 2/3 of the price! Nice.. so much more comfortable than those double-plastic boots I was using before.
January 18, 2004
Ahhh, another day off to do nothing (except shopping, laundry, email, etc)..
We just got back from 8 days of ice climbing! It's amazing! Similar to rock climbing, but (obviously) different. I've always wanted a pair of ice axes, and it made me feel cool to have a set (even if it was only for 8 days!). So anyhow, we spent the first day just practicing using our crampons (ie: walking), went for a hike up Grotto Canyon and practiced out flatfooting (French technique) and our front-pointing (German technique). After that we got into real ice climbing and went to such exciting places as: King Creek, Johnston Canyon, Tangle Creek, Junkyards, Haffner Creek, as well as a few others. It was all really cool stuff and I really noticed my technique improving. So most of the days were spent top-roping the various climbs. We started off doing WI 2 and 3 rated climbs (goes up to WI 7), but by the end we got in some WI 4 (and possibly 5) stuff! On Friday, Eric, Vivian and I got to do a multi-pitch climb of Shades of Beauty! It's a WI 4 climb with a commitment rating of III (for those that care). It was a sweet 3 pitch climb that was made a little more challenging as the colder weather made the ice hard and brittle. Very cool though! After climbing that we rappelled down the last pitch and walked off from there.
Thursday night we fired up the old-school wood sauna at the Rampart Creek Hostel where we were staying and relaxed in there for most of the evening -- with occaisonal trips out to dunk ourselves in the cold cold creek. Very refreshing! Friday night we drove up to Jasper for dinner and even managed to get there in time for happy hour! Whee!
Last night we went out (as per usual before a day off) to The Drake Inn and happened to catch some Vancouver ska band there! Very sweet as that's the type of music I like and hadn't yet found a place like it in Cali. This was also Vivian's first introduction to moshing, which she ended up getting really into! Ahh good times.
So in summary, ice climbing kicks ice (heh, kinda like "kicks ass") and I'm having lots of fun. Our next section is the WFR (Wilderness Fist Responder) course which is an intensive 80 hours. Should be good, and we're already thinking of hitting up the local climbing gym in the evenings (since we'll just be sitting around for most of next week). Hope to hear from you all!
PS - Check out this review for 007: Everything or Nothing! Note how they praise the AI on the second page! Awesome! :)
January 9, 2004
Hard to believe that it's been a week already! But what a week!
I flew into Calgary on the 2nd and took a shuttle up to the ACC Hostel in Canmore with one of my fellow course-mates. After settling into my room I finally met a bunch of the other participants in the common room. At first everyone was sitting around not talking to each other, but then we realized that we were all there for the same course and started talking.
All the people on the course are super cool. For some reason I expected most of the people to be older (in their 30's), but that's not the case at all. The ages range from 18-37, with me being about the median. It's great hanging out with a bunch of people that all love the same kind of stuff too! So many awesome stories and experiences.
The next day was the start of the course, but as it didn't start until 4pm we took a trip up to Banff. Did some last minute shopping, some sight seeing and just general hanging out. Good times.
Our first full day of the course was spent doing some map and compass work, not very exciting, but a good review. The day after was spent at a local ski hill practicing our ski skills and trying out the new ski skins (which are quite amazing actually!).
After that we went out and did some real back-country skiing at "Black Prince". Very cool! The touring party was alright and there was some great downhill skiing as well, however the trees were a little dense at parts... congrats to Tommy 'cause it was only his second day ever skiing! Crazy!
The next two days we went and did some touring at Chickidee Valley and in the Bow Valley Summit area. Again, amazing powder, amazing scenery! My only complaint were my crappy-rental boots! Oi! That and the immense amount of heat I generate when I ski-tour -- at times I was just wearing my long-underwear top in the -20 weather!
Speaking of the weather, it was down to -39 with wind chill at the start of the week, but luckily has since warmed up to a balmy -15 or so. Never imagined the day I'd think -15 is nice and warm! :P
Since today is our day off, we went for a night on the town yesternight. It was a good time! Especially fitting 11 people into a minivan for the cab ride into town. Today will be spent internetting (though I'm almost out of time, so sorry for not having a chance to email people!), shopping, laundry, reading, and perhaps watching some movies. But even if I don't get a chance to reply to you, email me 'cause I really want to hear from you all!
It's been a great first week and I'm sure the rest of this course will be equally amazing! Especially since we're starting the ice climbing section tomorrow! Sweeett!!!!