St Nic and Olive Randoneering

With all the snow we’ve been getting this winter it’s been tough to get into the alpine and climb peaks, with a big ol sun in the forecast on Friday I leaped at the chance to get some vitamin D.  To make the most of the mission I decided to use it as training so I brought my race gear in an attempt to go fast and light.

The Wapta is a great place for fast and light Randoneering, the approaches are usually low angle with good skintracks for kick/glide, the peaks are accessible and glaciers benign.  One of my favorite low commitment training runs is to bag St Nicolas and Olive pk above the Bow hut, once at their shared col it’s a straight forward ridge walk to the peaks, both are aesthetic and airy.

The ascent route on St Nic's South ridge, the tour starts by crossing the lake to the right in the background then gains the glacier to the left of the pk

The ascent route up the North ridge of Olive pk

The conditions  yesterday were pretty good, mostly clear skies with wind only at ridge top, light trail breaking above the hut facilitated gaining the St Nic/Olive col in about two and a half hours.  The ridges were a mixed bag of knee-deep snow, loose rock and firm hard slab, because of the latter I donned my race crampons. 

I’m really impressed with the Gignoux boots and I’m slowly gaining confidence in their durability and usefulness outside of race specific jaunts.  That said I have found their minimally lugged sole a touch slippery when it comes to firm snow, and was glad to get the chance to get in some training with the Camp XLC390 crampons.   With combined weight of crampons and axe at 580 grams there’s no good excuse not to bring them if you have the room in your bag. 

I’ve been happy with the performance of the Grivel Race Carbon mtn axe(190 grams) I bought in Andorra last winter.  When I bought it the I asked the sales guy in the shop if it was strong enough…  to which he replied in broken english while shrugging “… is very light”.   I’ve brought it on missions in the Rockies and Selkirks and found that its a great piece of “insurance” gear when using it within it’s capabilities ie. it’s not for swinging.

The other purpose of the trip was to get some good first hand info on coverage and travel conditions, I still have my sights set on the Wapta speed traverse after Reiner and my thwarted attempt last season.  With all of Canada’s fastest skimo racers converging on Golden next weekend for the Dogtooth Dash who knows what might happen afterwards…

I kept it short and lower intensity so as not to totally disregard my taper for the Dogtooth Dash but it felt great to be able to get on top of a peak or two and still be back to the car in time to make it to Laggins Bakery before closing.  Bring on SPRING.


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