Thursday, 12 October 2017

2017 Year in Review

The first goal I achieved this year was getting to 200 peaks. My 200 summit may not have been overly impressive, but it was a good trip with lots of great company. As the year went on I beat my previous best for unique summits in one year. I hope to get all the way to 75 before the year is out, but I think the only reasonable way I'm going to achieve that is through a road trip or a long series of foothills. The snow has fallen heavily and there is still over 10 summits I need...

The second major goal was to complete the Wapta Traverse. This hut to hut traverse of the Wapta and Waputik Icefields has always seemed like the end goal of learning how to ski tour. For most people I know that would be an ascent of Mount Columbia or something, but as a backpacker the length, overnight stays in huts, and history of the Wapta Traverse as always appealed to me. I was super stoked to get on an ACC trip to complete this. We had a great leader who got us through many a whiteout, as we completed the full traditional traverse from Peyto Lake out past Sherbrook Lake. After achieving this though I felt; and still do, a bit empty. I achieved my goal, but that didn't magically turn me into a good skier. I still majorly sux at skiing and maybe always will. The end goal didn't "prove" I could ski after all, as I somehow felt it should. It just proved I could ski well enough to survive that trip, but in no way did I feel I "made it" to some point where I am happy with my ski ability. In any case I am still extremely proud and glad I did this trip. But this winter I think I might spend my self designated winter vacation hours on a trip into the desert instead of a ski trip. More on that later. Though at some point I still really want to do the Bonnington Traverse.

I also spent time completing peaks and trips that had been on my list forever:
Fossil Mountain - On skis then foot. A trip I planned to do in the winter when its windblown for at least two winters. A mountain I've been meaning to climb in the summer long before that.
Mount Crandell - Via the descent route. A trip up the prominent peak above the town of Waterton that I've been meaning to do since I started scrambling.
Mount Galwey - A difficult route I've been thinking about trying since I started doing more difficult scrambles. As the difficulties are only for a very short section. Plus this peak is super popular and therefore cannot be that bad? Well it was for one series of moves, but otherwise it was pretty tame. As I plan on doing all the peaks in Waterton, completing this difficult one was a good step towards that goal. Unfortunately with the fires, this goal is now far less attainable.
Holy Cross Mountain - A mountain I just had to do with Heath, as it stares at me from across the prairies everytime we are on his parents deck. One of the "popular" Nugara peaks. All of which are on my to do list.
Mount Resolute - A rarely ascended but super easy high peak.
Pyramid Mountain - Quartzite. What else can I say? I love blocky quartzite.
Mount Ethelbert - The Shangri-La basin with Dunbar Lakes would be reason enough to go to this area, but the easy high peak has put this high on my list for years. When I found a report that the road into Templeton Lake had been re-routed and cleared I just had to go. I'd never been a fan of the Tiger Glacier approach.
Gwillim Lakes Backpack - Valhalla Provincial Park. This was on the top of my Kootenay list, and as weddings stopped us from doing a proper road trip we had a week to go do this and a few other mountains in the Kootenays. Mount Lucifer's chock-stone in its notch nearly defeated me, but some careful meditation on the moves to get up and down, and how it would be fine if I was careful and went slowly got me through. Though it did take forever... 
Michelle Lakes Backpack - A place I've always wanted to go since I saw a gorgeous photo of the lakes. They are remote and wild, and best of all in an area you are allowed to random camp. A backpack I've been putting off due to the amount of route-finding, elevation gain, and terrain difficulties involved. I must have waited long enough because I found everything very manageable, though some side-hilling above Owen Creek was annoying. As well I did do some bushwhacking to get back on trail to Pinto the next day. 
Sheol Mountain - An outlier of Aberdeen/Haddo that shouldn't be considered a separate peak. However it has blocky scrambling similar to Whymper; which I really enjoyed, so was desirable to summit none the less.

As well as peaks that I had been turned around on in the past, and therefore have also been on my list to repeat forever:
Sofa Mountain - Turned me around due to winds the first time. After that, I've stood in the parking lot debating whether to make another attempt on more than one occasion. A great shoulder season peak, with fun scrambling. I really enjoyed the scrambling section on this mountain.
Mount Niblock - Turned me and Heath around ages ago the first year we scrambled together. We just started too late in the day. A mistake I never made again.
Mount Rae  - See below.
Redoubt Mountain - Too snowy when we tried, and some of the people in our group were not really prepared clothing/shoe wise for that. Though I am glad I didn't have to do the summit block in snow. Should have been fine, but I would have been rather nervous the whole time I think.
Mount Howard - Turned me and Heath around due to a thunderstorm. Finally got it in shoulder season. 

Mount Rae being the most obvious and dramatic of those defeats. Where on descent I slipped on the trail below the ridge crest, and self arrested in the snow. Possibly saving my life, if friction wouldn't have stopped me from continuing down the side of the mountain just east of Rae glacier to the valley far far below. I hadn't gotten around to going back to Mount Rae for 7 years, as there was huge mental barrier in my way for that mountain. The ascent to the final summit ridge was just as manky as I remember or worse since the floods. Then the summit ridge was often narrow and quite scary. It felt really good to stand on the summit and complete that peak. As it wasn't a long term goal I'd been training for in particular like the Wapta, I didn't really get the emptiness of completing a goal after this one thankfully.

I also got to go up Stanely Peak with Dave S. who completed the Kane 2nd Edition Peaks by summiting it, as well as 800 peaks total. Going back through the hell of Haffner Creek and getting up Stanley was a great way to finish off the completely dry season in style. It started snowing the very next day. Mount Stanley always sort of bothered me as I drove past its icy face on highway 93. However I'd never considered going back to the bivy, which was the only way I'd thought you could ascend it reasonably. I hadn't considered going up Vern's descent route, due to the side-hilling and route-finding it involved. I am so glad Dave S. convinced me to go using that route, as the route above Haffner Creek is very reasonable. 

Goals for next year/winter:
- Build an igloo / snow shelter and sleep in it. Ideally with another person, or 3. But its time I finally completed this goal so I'll go alone if I have to. Its going to have to be a pretty good shelter/thick as I don't want to rent a winter sleeping bag. I hope to be able to use my -17 one for this trip. But if you build a proper snow structure its supposed to be like -1 to 0 degrees in there?
- Go to the desert and climb some peaks. This goal I'd turned down in various forms before, but which suddenly has become extremely reasonable and appealing sounding to me. Maybe I'm just super sick of the white stuff. But I think it's really the adventure of going off on such a long road trip to a completely different area alone. The alone part is appealing for this one. The desert has a completely different landscape and route-finding. As well as rattlesnakes! I'm not normally scared of snakes... but I am scared of the American healthcare system. So ya... it will be a good little adventure in overcoming small fears. As a kid we went on a ton of long road trips. So the driving distance in no way deters me.
- Sleep in the hammock. Yes I own a hammock! And I've never used it. I was told by a Parks Canada employee bears will be more likely to run into you, because they stare at the ground when they walk. Only recently did I stop to wonder if that theory is even reasonable.... So ya, I've chosen Running Rain Lake as the best place to try this, due to some info about the area from Matt. As well as the fact it is so close to the road, in case it all goes horribly wrong. Instead of worrying about bears, I am back to worrying about how to hang the hammock properly. Which of course could be fixed by practicing in the park... pure laziness holding me back there... and winter now.
- Jump into an alpine lake. A sort of full on summer right of passage. I did better in 2016 than 2017. I need to redeem myself in 2018.
- Sleep on top of a mountain; a real mountain, the Mount Hoffman foothill trip doesn't really count. Side note: Why do so many of these objectives involve sleeping? Anyway, I haven't picked a mountain yet, as there are a LOT of things to consider. Does it have a flat place to put down a bivy sack? How far away from water/snow patches? Etc etc etc. But I really have to do this at least once in 2018. 
- Do some more ski practice to become a better skier. If I'm going to constantly complain about my ski ability then I should do something about it. In no way will this involve paying to go to resorts. But it will involve a few trips skiing up ski resorts, and heading back down them, most likely solo. As well as proper backcountry trips. Just no long ones this year. And I'm not going to worry about any big objectives.
- More work on rock climbing so that I can eventually ascend 5.5 routes. Usually I go to a few ACC events to sport climb and get no farther. Once the main ranges open up I forget about rock climbing altogether except for mourning my inability to ascend Pigeon Spire. This year I'm going to have to take a new approach.

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