Monday, August 29, 2005

Mt. Custer

Dave and i did Mt. Custer Saturday via the Herbst Glacier. It's a fun route, probably goes at an alpine iii -5.4. Nothing to difficult but with some fun exposure. We were both surprised at how much smaller the glacier was this year compared to last year but we still needed crampons and an ice axe to get by the one upper section. Most of the rock is pretty decent but the rock on the first two cliff bands was excellent. The first cliff band is a very compact Red Argillite and the second rock band is very compact, excellent quality Black Diorite. Really fun scrambling and climbing. Once on the summit ridge you have to pick your way through the remaining gendarmes over to the summit block. From there you follow the ramp to the climbers left which takes you around to the south side of the summit block. From that south side pick your way carefully up to the summit. The views at the summit are stunning. The last time the summit register was signed was 2002 but the dampness is taking it's toll and it really needs to be replaced. When we descended we cheated and made two 30 m raps off the summit block back to the ramp on the south side. You can downclimb this part but because we had the gear it was a lot quicker to rap than down climb. From there we picked our way back to where we first topped out on the summit ridge. We contemplated trying to follow the ridge back to Forum Peak or descending the way we climbed. We very quickly decided that it was quicker to go down the same way we came up. 5 more intermittent raps and downclimbing had us to where we could scramble the rest of the way out. Total hieght gain is 5800' and about 15 hrs round trip. I would highly recommend this route. It was well worth the effort. Dave will have a trip report and pictures on his website shortly.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cleaning Up the Park

Waterton locals know that the area around the waste transfer station has been a disaster area for some time. Much of the rock work and cement from the old swimming pool demolition was dumped just behind the nice knoll you see above the middle lake. We it looks like the park has finally started cleaning things up. Over the last few weeks there has been quite a bit of work up there. Things have been levelled off and flattened. I wonder if the park is planning on putting up a new building there? With no signs of any foundations being put in, I doubt it.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Well I am finally back from the North. I had a good time, even if the mosquitoes drove me crazy. I had one kayak mini-epic and one hiking mini-epic, plus scores of mosquitoe crazy moments.

The kayak adventure involved wandering down a reasonably nice looking river to access the lower canyon of the Stikine. It ended with a humungous portage up an 800 foot hillside to avoid a nasty class VI 40 footer in a slot canyon. I had a moment's thought about running it despite not being able to see the landing, but the nasty stuff further down the canyon quickly changed my mind. If you can see exploding waves up a thousand feet and a kilometer away, you know they are huge! The port invloved dragging my 70lb boat 2km through some nasty low growth spruce forests. Yuck!

As for the hiking epic, maps are nice. Warnings up north actually mean something as well. I will write up the story in more detail, but suffice it to say, the trail I had planned on taking was pretty sparse, and I figured it could be an old indian trail. The road I ended up taking added about 12km to to the trip. Near the end of the day, insane from bugs I didn't take enough time at a cross roads at 40km. This meant I wound up on the wrong side of the park, well out of food, energy, and at 9:00pm, with another 10km penalty. Trying my best to make good time to avoid getting benighted, the trip ended at 11:30pm and, with this being my break in hike, ended up messing up doing in the cartlidge problem I occasionaly have with my knees. But at least the 60+ km day hike was a good start to the trip. Of course it sounds like it had better rock that Mt. Sir Douglas!

Thursday, August 04, 2005 - IT WORKS!!!!!

Well, after an eternity, my website is finally back up and running. I still have a bit of configuring to do, but that shouldn't take too long. All of the static stuff works. For my football pool, I need to adjust my Perl scripts and I need to set up my email. Other than that, everything works as it use to.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Thunder Mountain Rock Climbing

On the weekend a group of six met up in the hanging valley on the north end of Thunder Mountain (aproach from the Gap).There was area local's Tom and Lisa, Rendog and Julie from Calgary and myself and Casey from the Crowsnest Pass. We went up to check out the bolted routes that have been put up by the Medicine Hat Climbing Club. I had been up in the valley during the winter time with Tom and we stumbled across a few bolts, so it was a must to come back this summer . From the road it is a 20 min or so hike up towere the valley flattens out enough for some rough camp sites. From the tents it is a 5 to 10 minute slog up some scree to the main wall. The main wall is the prominant blob on the west side of the valley, there are two more lines in the gully on the left.
The climbing routes are on the nicest rock I have seen in southern Alberta, it is a solid dark grey Limestone with very few loose sections. It has the same feel and style as some rock routes on EEOR in Canmore, very frictiony, abbrasive and with open handed holds during the crux sections. The bolting is top notch, not too runout nor are the bolts ever too close together, the stations are all equiped with rap rings and were well placed to keep rope drag to a minimum. There is still a touch of loose rock here and there but that will quickly change with more traffic in the area.
Our group climbed 7 out of the 8 routes that we found, the longest route being 30m in length and the shortest being 15m. The grades seemed to be in the 5.9s at our estimates with one 5.7 in the gully on the left and possibly a 5.10 or so out on the main wall. All and all we had a great time up there for two days and I would like to head up there with the people that created the routes so I could see all that I missed.
One word of warning for future parties is that we couldn't find any water up there and had to hoof it down to the Oldman river to refill our bottles. So bring lots of water.
2nd word of warning is that it gets really really hot up there the main wall is in the sun until 3pm so to stay cool climb the bolted routes in the gully.

Chris Morris


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