Sunday, July 26, 2009

Climbing in the Bugaboos

Woke up at 2:45am, brewed some coffee, loaded our granola bars and started our 3.5 hour approach to the Becky-Chouinard route on South Howser Tower in the Bugaboos Provincial Park located in British Columbia. The goal was to be back before dark.

Whenever you hear the words, "the goal was" you know it didn't go
as planned.

Let me start off by saying I finally went on a climbing trip without my video camera. It was a
shock to hike in somewhere without cords, batteries, laptop and my camera. Laura (my wife) and I decided it was time to take our first vacation together. We opted for the Bugs. I've always wanted to climb in the Bugs, the granite looks bomber and the climbs look amazing.

We warmed up on the Pigeon Spire, we got our alpine start. Left the boulder camp located
below the hut around 9:30am. It was a fun outing. The next day we left a little earlier 8:30am to climb the Northeast Ridge of B
ugaboo Spire. Maybe we got
off route a little to access the col because the guidebook says to scramble. We roped up for 3 pitches to access the co
le. The rock was super loose on fifth class climbing.

Once at the base of the route the climbing went super fast. I wish I would have taken the time to read about the traverse from the North to South summit. We did the tr
averse with a few rappels and some very exposed ridge traverses but made it back to camp just before dark.

We thought we hadn't had enough adventure yet and we really wanted a long day so we decided to climb the Becky-Chouinard route on S. Howser Tower. We took a rest day to figure a few things out and try to get some local beta from Sean Isaac who was in the cabin guiding.

As I mentioned earlier we were up by 2:45 and out of camp by 3:30am. We were doing very well getting
to the base and scrambling to the first pitch of the climb. There was a party ahead of us but by a few pitches and they motored on ahead pretty fast. We only saw them one other time throughout the day. The first ten pitches went very good. We were keeping a good pace and looking at our watch we knew we were going to be back at camp just afte
r dark....or so we thought.

Towards the upper pitches I decided to not read the topo description as closely and got off route on almost every pitch. We both started loosing
steam a little and next thing we knew we were a pitch from the summit and it was 9:45pm. Damn I thought. This sucks. Here we are with no extra clothing and we're about to spend the night on the summit of the South Howser Tower. I'm sure many people have done this but for me it was a very humbling experience. I've never been benighted on anything. To me this meant I failed. I didn't complete this route in a day and that was my goal.
This time was different though. I was up there with my wife. This is the first time I am doing a big climb without one of my regular "dude" climbing partners. I realized I had a lot more fun climbing the route with her. Sure, I would be at camp by now if I climbed it with a friend but now we get to experience the bivy together. I can't explain it much more but once I came to terms of being benighted I started laughing. We both started laughing once we decided to sleep on this exposed ledge with rocks digging into our hips and kidneys all night. Did we sleep? Not really. Did we freeze? Hell yeah we did. But we also made it down safely in the morning and in the end that's the success of the trip. You always want to come home from a trip.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sport Climbing in Lions Head, Ontario

That's right. You heard it. Call me a sell out I don't care. I spent 8 days filming sport climbing and guess what. It was fun. It was walk up and steal the low hanging fruit sort of thing compared to my typical alpine, ice, and big wall filming. The crew was awesome. I headed up there with climbers; Sam Elias, Lauren Lee and Emily Harrington and of course accompanied by the man himself Keith Ladzinski as still photographer. We were the full on media circus. It was great. Actually the best part about shooting with Keith is his sense of humor. Here we are two fellows; Keith shooting stills and myself shooting video hanging from ropes at times and just talking smack the whole day. Thanks for those great rappell shots off Lions Head Terry!!

Talk about easy access. The approach is a mellow 20 minutes on pretty flat trails. You come up to the edge of the cliff and either rappell in to shoot or just hang out on top and shoot down on the climbers.

This trip really allowed me to get pretty dialed with my Letus Ultimate setup. I purchased a lens adaptor for my camera last year and haven't had a whole lot of opportunity to really shoot with it in the field because it adds a lot of weight to the setup. Because of the short approach and easy stances on the cliff I was able to use multiple lenses and zoom into these climbers at really cool and wild angles.

All of us concluded that the local climbing scene at Lions Head is the best. The people are the most psyched about climbing and they are all there to climb and push their friends to the next hardest grade. I have never been to a crag and experienced this type of warm welcome as a visitor. You guys are all the Bomb!!!

I recommend anyone thinking about climbing here to buy your plane ticket, gas up your car, or stick your thumb out, stop making excuses and get up there to climb. You will not regret it. Soon to follow a new short about the area but until then you can probably find photos by looking at any of the athletes blogs. Sam Elias or Lauren Lee