Thursday, August 01, 2013

Mountaineering Camp 2013

 The Annual Mountaineering Camp was held this year out of the Bill Putnam Hut at Fairy Meadows, a significant step up in difficulty and logistics, but it offered the opportunity to spend a week on or near the Gothics and Granite Glaciers in the Northern Selkirks.

Access was a 64 km drive up the West Columbia Forest Service Road along the west side of Kinbasket Lake (aka: Columbia River).  A helicopter met us there and in under an hour we had all our gear and 19 people up at the cabin.  Four flights of about 5 minutes each was a pleasant alternative to a rough 5-hour hike through the bush.

The week was spent exploring the Granite and Gothics Glaciers and some of the surrounding peaks.  Some training sessions were held to discuss matters like roped glacier travel, crevasse rescue, self-arrest and such.

Our weather was stellar.  Almost too stellar.  It was hot and sunny the whole time we were there until the last morning as we were waiting for the helicopter to come get us.  That's when the fog, cloud, rain and hail descended.  It was short-lived, however, and we were flown back to our vehicles by mid-afternoon.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thrashers Weekend 2013 - Scrambles

Part of the activities for Thrashers Weekend was the opportunity to do some scrambles.  On Saturday, two of us made the quick ascent of Baldy, the peak just above Barrier Bluffs.  The weather was fine and the views were nice.  We even made it down in time to take in a quick climb of two at Wasootch where the rest of the group was hanging out.  

MJ working his way up on Mt Baldy  (photo- DMcC)
On Sunday, with showers and fog banks happening, a much larger group headed up to Mt John Laurie (aka: Yamnuska).  There is an interesting circuit of the whole peak and the pictures below give a taste of what the day was like.

The chain route on Mt Yamnuska (photo by MJ Afshin)

Scramblers on the skyline (photo by MJ Afshin)

Scramblers looking over into the abyss (photo by MJ Afshin)

Thrashers Weekend 2013 - Training

This year's Trashers Weekend was filled with activity even though the weather wasn't the best.

Friday was used as a training course for belaying and setting up top-rope anchors.  Many of our Section's rope leaders attended, working mostly on "D" slab at Wasootch.  It was great to see so many rope leaders out for this session.  It's taken quite a few years, but we finally have a keen nucleus of experienced, trained leaders that are able to help run weekends like this.

Paying close attention

On the Ledge, working on top rope anchors

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The redesigned

The website for the Saskatchewan Section has been updated and redesigned. The website and blog are now integrated, The Prairie Pitch Express is now found at and all previous blog posts are still there and have been included in the website. The website is also designed to look great on tablets and smartphones so make sure to check out the site on your mobile device.

Our activities our now found on the Events Calendar page as a list but can also be viewed in a calendar view.

If you are user of iCal or Google calendar you can now add events/trips to your calendar with a single click.

Along with the website change the Saskatchewan Section is now on Twitter and Google+.

So be sure to follow us if you are on Twitter or Google+ and we remain very active on Facebook so don’t forget to like us there too!

We are not done yet either, there will be small ongoing improvements over time so make sure to check back regularly.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome whether here, via emailFacebookTwitter or Google+.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sask Section 2012 Climbing Report

[report by Don Chodzicki]

It's already November and it is hard to bellieve we haven't had a trip blog for so long, so let me bring you up to speed.

In 2012 the Saskatchewan Section had some of their most successful climbing trips yet.  In January the club had such a high demand to go ice climbing we were forced to organize 2 trips! 

Choppers 1
The first ice climbing trip in February had a total of 23 people including the leaders.  The large number presented real challenges during the planning phase forcing a thorough review of options for accommodations, climbing locations, gear rental, leader to beginner ratios, trip dates, and other issues. 

Once again Nordegg Alberta was the location for our "base camp".  Day 1 the group climbed at Balfour Wall. It is always interesting to see how much the ice can vary from year to year, but once again beginners were provided with an impressive number of route options and a beautiful view of the valley. I personally really enjoyed going early with the leaders, hiking around to the top and helping to set the anchors for the ropes. 

Day 2 the group went to Two O'Clock Falls.  2 O'Clock is a bit smaller than Balfour which during the planning phase I thought might present a few problems, but somehow things ended up working out. Both days we had fairly decent weather.  To me 2 O'Clock always seems a bit cool whenever we go there but I know at least one person felt shorts and a Hawaiian shirt were more comfortable so maybe it was just in my head!

Choppers 2
For the 2nd ice climbing trip in early March Choppers had 12 people and this time the base camp was in Canmore.  Day 1 we climbed at Junk Yards near Canmore which meant both the drive and hike in were much shorter than we experienced on the Nordegg trip.  Temperatures were pretty warm though which can help make the ice softer and potentially result in a few areas of rock being uncovered. 

If you are a beginner ice climber and don't understand the advantage of soft ice (keep in mind I am no expert) think of single swing or single kick and almost a guaranteed stick of the ice tools or crampons, so you can waste a lot less energy.  And also if you are a beginner ice climber the concept of going ice climbing and finding parts of exposed rock may seem less than ideal, but this offers you an introduction to something called Mixed Climbing!    

Day 2 the group drove further west to a location called Hafner Creek.  For me this new location was like magic.  The hike in had limited vertical and given that there was an existing path through the deep snow we had it pretty easy.  Hiking in involved going through a narrow canyon with a stream running through it.  Then when you reach the location everything opens up and you are facing rock and ice walls all around you.  But not only was this a beautiful location it also offered me a really good chance to try Mixed Climbing! 

Mixed climbing basically involves the use of ice tools to climb rock and ice surfaces.  For me the really interesting thing (like many situations with the Alpine Club) is how you start to look at situations differently.  Initially I never understood how you could use an ice tool on a rock surface since you can't swing it and make it stick.  But after my introduction to mixed climbing I would look at a piece of rock and start to see the 2 or 3 millimeter ridge and figure out that I could solidly hook an ice tool or crampon on that ridge and all of a sudden it was game on!  The idea of placing ice tools rather than wasting one's energy swinging or kicking should really appeal to a beginner.  But what further impressed me was taking that new mind set of identifying little surfaces that can hold a person's weight and applying it during the club's annual Rock Climbing trip over the May long weekend.

Thrashers Rock Climbing and Scrambling 2012
Once again the beginner trip was to the Wasootch area south of Canmore.  The location is perfect for beginners and more experienced climbers due to the large number of routes and easy drive/hike in.  The logistics of running a trip to this location are also a lot easier based on it being a repeat trip.  Like always our leaders were kept busy setting the top ropes, educating us on proper technique and moving ropes to new more challenging routes as our abilities improved over the 2 days.  

Although the trip isn't geared towards teaching lead climbing I did have the chance to try leading my first 5.5 or 5.6!  Let me tell you it is always an eye opener when you don't see a top rope above you to protect your fall!  Needless to say I did survive it.  Another bonus to this year’s trip was I had an opportunity try to a little "Trad Climbing".  With a top rope in place I did a simulated trad climb which proved really interesting as I struggled to figure out how to place the pieces of protection in little crevices and attach quickdraws to them.  Let me just say I was glad I was on a top rope the whole time!

Returning to this year’s Thrashers was a scrambling component.  On day one scramble participants explored an un-named ridge east of Canmore, part of the Mt Fable loop south ridge.  For day 2 they climber to the North Peak of Mt Kidd.  The most fun on that route was the opportunity to bum-slide almost all the way down.  The addition of the scrambles to Thrashers worked out really well offering section members who aren't climbers an opportunity to still come and socialize with the climbers in the evenings.

To close things off I really want to thank all the trip leaders we had for the trips.  Thanks for setting the top ropes, being patient with the newbies, sharing your knowledge and offering us so many opportunities for adventure!