Mythologic

FTR, I do not love ‘the cold’. But I love ice climbing and ski touring, and so I suffer (not so silently) 😉

I am grateful that I have a learned tolerance of suffering and that I know how to minimize my discomfort through extra measures of self-care, like:

  • stripping down naked to replace some key layers after the sweaty hike
  • climbing in the sun
  • avoiding deep-freeze days all together, if possible.

I wanted to write this blog to capture a moment in time. I am in a transition – but aren’t we (meaning I) always? I have had that sentiment of “This is as good as it gets” again (see previous blog here). This is a profound sentiment for me as I am the embodiment of chasing goals and greener grass. Its rare when I can find a space of appreciating where I am, realizing that one day I will ‘really’ know how good I had it.

fullsizerenderI find this profound too: Currently, I am using it on night shift on an industrial job in the world of avalanche control. I am using it as I transition into a new career. I use it to accept my path thus far (childless and without much financial stability/security).

Tim and I felt like weekend warriors last weekend. We are both working a lot and we took a couple precious days to play hard. We have times of tension between us when we are maximizing to make the most of limited days off – our stress gets darted across the front seat of the truck to the nearest beating heart. Unfortunately, that is not a great relationship strategy. But you know what is? Having full-day adventures together where the problem-solving requires a team effort.

We did one day of ski touring in the K3 cat-skiing tenure (where Tim works) and had one magical day of ice climbing on a rarely formed gem in the Okanagan.

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I love uphill walking on skis

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Snowpatch, the champion ski touring pup, so fun to watch her bounce through the powder!

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My generous partner in the hills.

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Did I mention, in true WW fashion, we needed our headlamps BOTH nights. We might of underestimated this day.

One highlight of our skin back to the truck was coming across a herd of caribou tracks.  I am so grateful to live on a part of this planet that these experiences exist.

Mythologic 140m WI6 first ascent info

It is a rare year when the cold lasts so long that there are numerous days to climb this route in the Florida of BC!

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photo by JD Weaver Look closely for climbers in the setting sun 🙂

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We dropped our lovely puppy off at doggy daycare and as a result we arrived late behind some other folks (Eric and Brent). Luckily, we had a few hours of self-care in the sun – as well as catching up with Granny J!

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We finally felt brave enough to tackle this beast after a lunchtime nap.

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The cruxy second pitch (much cleaning has been done)

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Tim styling the third pitch, which is one of the most prominent pillars of the route.

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Tim does not pose. Unless, I ask very nicely. Stunning position in the afternoon sun on this climb.

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I love when there are little green lights in my photos.

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Another photo by JD Weaver. I am leading the 4th and last pitch of the route. We summited at sunset. Thanks for the trail, hooks and abolocovs – which made our late-in-the-day ascent so effortless!

MYTHOLOGIC

A golden magical sceptre calling to my heart and imagination,

Intimidating icicles, daunting approach

just out of reach for a nervous girl

I remember 

how to swing, kick, shake, and strategize

I remember

joy of finding ease

in back-steps, wide stances, long reaches, shoulder scums

dancing among icicles of

 frozen champagne glistening in the sun

the gift of sunshine

warming me from

the inside out

melting my fear, dissolving my intimidation

hell ya, hooks help

and my encouraging beau

grins at our success.

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I am so grateful for my team, my partners, my loved ones.

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January 19, 2017 · 11:01 pm

Extreme Backpacking in El Chaltén

We chose a two week climbing trip to Patagonia as our dream trip for 2016. There were dreamy parts (sport climbing and sunbathing) and then there were the memorable nightmares (heavy packs and calving seracs). We logged some reconnaissance miles and learned what the guidebook author means by: “a competent party will take 2 to 3 hours”. We worked super hard for the first half of the trip and then we experienced a rare thing in an alpine climber/mountain guide’s existence: a real holiday. We slept a lot. We climbed no more than a handful of pitches and rarely before noon.

We had a long list of glorious objectives for our two week trip. Whaaat? But we didn’t even get close to tickling the first one, which was the Ragni Route on Cerro Torre. I don’t need to give you a long list of excuses, but I will share the reasons we ‘failed’ in hopes that others can learn from our fumbles.

  1. Not enough days of food. This was the biggest one. We took three days of food. We needed 5-6. This was partially based on the guidebook description and mostly just not thinking our objective through carefully enough. If we had brought more food we would of at least attempted our climb, but we arrived near the base of our climb with basically one day of food! no one wants to climb with a HANGRY girl, especially not Tim 😉
  2. Underestimating the approach/descent. We didn’t ask the locals enough questions, we didn’t realize how challenging the approach was to Nipinino. This includes the fact that we kept looking for a trail when there wasn’t one, and we were always thinking there might be an easier way that we were missing, when we weren’t. Even coming out from Paso Marconi was way more technical than we realized. The local maps are missing a lot of information. We didn’t ask the locals the right questions. We made a lot of assumptions about what they were/weren’t telling us.
  3. Too heavy packs, possibly. I am very motivated to have absolutely the lightest gear in the future.

What we did right:

  1. We camped in sheltered, safe and comfortable places when it was timely to camp (before dark) – we were never suffering when sleeping.
  2. We realized our errors early in the trip and made the best of it.
  3.  We made a couple timely safe decisions that kept us out of the imminent danger of falling rocks and snow avalanches.
  4. Despite the harsh disappointment of ‘blowing’ our only weather window, we got mad/sad and then let it go and made the best of our Argentinian holiday.

We experienced a heat wave during our attempt. There were rivers running down rock climbs, slushy avalanches, rock fall and highly active seracs. This makes me only want to return to this region in spring/winter for alpine climbing.

We went up over Standhardt Col towards the ice cap and out Paso Marconi carrying two ropes, a rock rack, twelve ice screws, pitons, draws, axes, etc etc. We took 4.5 days.

We loved the local beef and malbec. We enjoyed talking to the other climbers and going rock climbing and swimming in the river on our down time.

Here are a few photos to summarize our experience. We would love to return for a longer period in a time when the cost of tourism is not so inflated. One last key piece of advice: Bring Argentinian dollars or US dollars. The bank machine charged us 8$ on every $100. We couldn’t take out more than $1oo at a time. My canadian bank then charged me another fee on top of that. Most places do NOT take credit cards in El Chalten.

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The easy part

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Looking for a non-existent trail with some other lost climbers

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Finally the going gets easier

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Up and up and up

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Benign Seracs

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Small Slots

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Keeping us on our toes

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Comfy bivy under Standhardt Col

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Beautiful Sunrise

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Cool Chockstone at the top of Standhardt Col

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Timmy doing the heavy lifting

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Rappelling down the west side

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Down-climbing beside seracs and loose rocks, pick your poison

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constant serac fall was very entertaining

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looking at our route up to the ragni (you gain the seracs on the right!)

 

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Elusive summits

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beautiful vistas

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great scenery for a backpack (heavy hearts)

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Getting to the ice cap

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tough decisions

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door prizes

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death march

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serac centrale

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a maze of rock slabs

 

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a maze of crevasses

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hideous toe of marconi glacier

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not home yet, but friendly backpackers who gave us a kitkat when we were out of food

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grateful to be showered, fed and watered (wined)

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we are sport climbers! not.

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the real holiday begins

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El Chaltén

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